Falls remain one of the most common causes of work related injuries and deaths. According to the National Safety Council, 805 workers died in falls in 2020 with another 211,640 injured badly enough to require days off of work.
As one of three primary components to a fall arrest system, a quality safety harness is a worker’s first defense to staying alive.
A critical piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), a harness is the bodywear portion of a personal fall arrest system. Full body harnesses are designed to protect vital organs by distributing the forces of a fall over a person’s upper thighs, pelvis, chest, and shoulders.
Fall restraint harnesses come in many different configurations and are sometimes designed for specific applications, so choosing the right harness can be overwhelming. To find the right harness for a given application, you’ll need to assess the physical characteristics of the equipment to ensure it’s suitable for your industry or task. You’ll also need to account for the correct fit and other factors.
To choose the correct harness, use our helpful guide
Named for their common shape, D-Rings are sewn into the harness webbing and serve as loops to attach other components, such as lanyards and self-retracting lifelines (SRLs). D-Rings help ensure the body stays in an upright position during a fall.
Full-body harnesses comes in various D-Ring configurations. These different configurations determine the appropriate harness uses, so it is critical to choose one designed for your specific job.
Given its job is to save a life, it’s reasonable to understand the need to occasionally replace even well maintained harnesses. The lifespan of a harness can range from 6 months to 6 years, so multiple factors should be evaluated when determining whether you need a new harness.
Common things to look for include:
Cuts or fraying on the webbing
You should always replace a harness if it’s been compromised or involved in a fall. For a full list of considerations for replacing a safety harness, review our guide: Is it Time to Replace Your Harness?
While a safety harness is designed to protect vital organs inside the body, there is danger to prolonged hanging in a harness. An often overlooked aspect of a fallen worker is what happens between the time of the fall and the worker’s rescue, which is why suspension trauma relief straps are an underutilized piece of equipment for a safety harness.
Few harnesses come with trauma relief straps, but this low-cost item provides an extra safety feature to every personal fall arrest system. When used, a relief strap alleviates and relocates pressure on the body and provides relief to areas that can be affected by a worker hanging in suspension.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires workers at height to utilize fall protection, but does not regulate manufacturing of the equipment. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets testing standards for the equipment, and manufacturers use a qualified third-party laboratory to ensure compliance to the standard.
Malta Dynamics designs and manufacturers all its products to meet and exceed standards set by ANSI.
Integrated into fall protection equipment and typically found on body support connectors and certain anchorage connectors, D-Rings attach connecting devices such as lanyards or self-retracting lifelines (SRLs).
This connector is located on the harness’s front side, around the sternum.
Consisting of two mating flat metal frames, the female frame is an open rectangle permanently connected to a loop located at a strap’s end. Its male counterpart is connected to the joining strap by putting the webbing through the frame’s two slots.
Similar to a belt buckle, the user puts the webbing strap through the buckle and then puts the buckle tongue in the grommet hole, adjusting for comfort and fit.
A strap around the waist that attaches to a lifeline, lanyard, or deceleration device. It’s used for fall restraint and work positioning.
Alternatively called the back D-Ring, the dorsal D-Ring refers to the point of attachment located on the harness’s backside, located between your shoulder blades.
D-Rings on the sides offer simple work positioning and tying off in any environment.
A buckle that can be operated with just one hand, allowing for easy, fast donning of the harness.