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What happened to waist belts and why have they been replaced with full body harnesses?

We live in a world of constant evolution in technology and science. When fall protection precautions were first established, the safety solution came in the form of a body belt that attached around the waist of the user. These waist belts had connection points to attach a lifeline and in a fall restraint or positioning application, this is still acceptable. However, if a fall did occur, the waist belt could slide up the body and crush internal organs or break ribs.

Why the Harness?

The full body harness has been designed to strap around the legs, chest, and shoulders. This design works to distribute the forces of a fall all over the body instead of focusing all the pressure on the torso.

Full body harnesses come in a variety of designs and each one is suited to a different work environment.

OSHA. Standards 

Each year OSHA cites more violations related fall protection than any other safety category.

OSHA requires that employers provide the proper fall protection equipment and safety training for employees that must work at heights or in hazardous situations. This includes knowing which products to use in different work environments. OSHA states that a body belt is permitted to be used as a restraint or positioning device, but under §1926.502(d), it is mandated that “body belts are not permitted to be used in a personal fall arrest system, and the requirement is not negated by the use of a positioning device that limits any fall to 2 feet.”

Do You Still Have Body Belts in Use?

If you still have body belts in use as part of your fall arrest system, you should remove them from your system immediately and replace them with OSHA compliant full body harnesses. While you’re purging the outdated equipment, you should consider examining all the components in your fall protection system. You can download free safety inspection forms here that will help guide you through an examination of your gear. You should also have a competent person conduct a yearly in-depth inspection of your fall protection equipment.

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