How to Safety Use Harness D-Rings

Full-body harnesses for fall protection come in many styles with several options for the configuration of your D-Rings. D-Rings are named because they are typically shaped like the letter D, although their exact shape can vary. We recognize them as the loops on our harnesses to which the other components of a fall protection system, such as self-retracting lifelines or lanyards, attach.

Defined broadly, a D-Ring is a main attachment point for fall protection that is integrally connected to the harness. D-Rings for fall arrest must be integral, meaning they are sewn into the harness webbing.

OSHA requires that all harnesses used for fall protection be designed to include a dorsal D-Ring on the back (dorsal is an anatomical term for the back). This is the required attachment point for any harness used for fall arrest. Attaching one’s personal fall arrest system to this single D-Ring on the back helps to keep the worker’s body upright in the event of a fall and allows the harness to do its job, distributing the force of arresting a fall throughout the body rather than having it focused at a single point.

Some harnesses include additional D-Rings on the sides at the hips. These are not intended as attachment points for fall arrest, but they are useful points to attach devices for work positioning. When a worker is held in suspension, as is often the case in rebar construction and tower applications, positioning devices can be connected to the side D-Rings. These positioning systems allow for greater flexibility when working in suspension, but they must be paired with—they do not replace—standard personal fall protection, attached to the single back D-Ring.

Some harnesses have sternal (chest) D-Rings that can be used as attachment points for climbing applications or restraints, but once again these are not suitable connection points for fall arrest systems. Other harnesses for controlled descent situations such as rescue operations or for confined spaces may include D-Rings on the shoulders—these are great for hoisting or lowering a worker safely, but are not intended for arresting an uncontrolled fall.

Choosing the right D-Ring configuration for your application allows you to make the best use of your harness and personal fall protection setup. If you have questions or want advice on which styles might be best for you and your team, the experts at Malta Dynamics are always available to help

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