The importance of… safety harnesses

By Jason Godfrey, Safesite General Manager

Fall protection is vital for anyone working at height, both collective protection such as guardrails and personal protection such as harnesses.

In the work at height hierarchy, collective equipment is preferable to personal – as it doesn’t require the user to be trained in its use, or rely on their competence – but in situations where personal protective equipment is required, it’s hugely important the user knows how to inspect and use it properly.

We have put together this blog to outline the importance of harness training, so the next time you come across a situation where it’s necessary for you or your team to wear one, you’ll know what to look for.

The importance of… choosing the right harness

When you’re selecting your harness, it’s important you choose one designed specifically for the work that needs to be done, as well as the anchorage point. For an electrical installation, for example, you’ll want a combination of fall arrest and positioning, such as a 5 point harness with waist connectors for positioning. Harnesses will usually feature:

> Webbing

> Side, rear and frontal D-rings

> Lanyard connections

> Adjustable waist and leg straps

Wearing the wrong type of harness, or wearing it incorrectly, can lead to serious injury, or worse.



The importance of… proper harness inspection

As with all PPE, you need to examine your harnesses fully every 12 months, at least. They should also be subject to pre-use checks, detailed periodic inspections and interim inspections.

Remember: harnesses could save your life one day, and it doesn’t take much to make sure they’re in working condition.

Pre-use checks must be carried out before each use and should include the following visual and tactile inspections:

> Webbing: Check for signs of damage such as bobbling/strained or badly pulled webbing, cracks, cuts or fraying as well as loose stitching or fading which may indicate the fibre structure has been compromised.

> Buckles: Make sure all rivets are tight and buckles aren’t bent, chipped or have sharp edges protruding and that all stitching is intact.

> D-Rings: Check for any signs of distortion, fatigue or rust and make sure the ring pivots freely.

> Plastic Loops: Check for broken, cracked or damaged loops.

> Straps and rope:  Carefully check straps for signs of fraying or broken fibres.  Inspect clips on straps and check for loose stitching.

> Label: Make sure the label includes the serial number, manufacturing and inspection dates.


The importance of… wearing a harness properly

If you wear your harness incorrectly, you may as well not wear one at all, so it’s essential that you or your team know how to put one on correctly when necessary.


Better safe than sorry

Harnesses are an integral part of many fall protection systems, so making sure yours is safe to use and fitted correctly is vital, as the person who eventually uses it could suffer serious injury in the event of failure.

All managers and users should be trained on harness selection, inspection and usage, so they fully understand the ins and outs of harness use, and when a harness is unsafe. It could save a life.

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