Falls are among the most common causes of serious injury and death in the workplace. To prevent such accidents, employers and workers must take the necessary precautions and use the appropriate equipment, including fall arrest systems. However, not all fall arrest equipment is created equal.
With so many available options, it can be overwhelming to determine which fall arrest equipment is effective and suitable for your specific workplace needs. In this blog, we will discuss the factors to consider when selecting effective fall arrest equipment to keep yourself and your employees safe while working at heights.
3 Essential Components of Fall Arrest Equipment
Selecting the appropriate fall arrest equipment is crucial for those working at elevated positions, as it helps to prevent severe injuries or fatalities. Safety officers have noted that in most cases where a fall transpires, injuries are caused by the absence or incorrect usage of fall protection equipment and by employing the wrong equipment for the task. To ensure maximum worker safety, a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) must incorporate three essential components – a harness, a connection, and an anchor/anchorage point.
- Harness: The full-body harness is a critical component of the PFAS, designed to distribute the force of a fall across the wearer’s body in a way that minimizes injury. The harness should be properly fitted to the user, with adjustable straps to ensure a snug and secure fit. Additionally, it should have a dorsal D-ring for attaching the connecting device and should meet appropriate safety standards.
- Connection: The connection serves as the link between the harness and the anchorage point. This can be achieved using a lanyard, a self-retracting lifeline (SRL), or a fall arrest device. The choice of the connecting device depends on the specific work environment and conditions. For instance, shock-absorbing lanyards are ideal for situations with adequate fall clearance, while SRLs offer more mobility and are better suited for areas with limited fall clearance.
- Anchor/Anchorage Point: The anchor or anchorage point is a secure attachment point for the connection component of the PFAS. It should support at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) per worker or be engineered to maintain a safety factor of at least two. Anchorage points must be carefully chosen, considering the work type, the surface material, and potential hazards.
While these components alone cannot prevent falls, when used correctly and in combination, they form a comprehensive Personal Fall Arrest System that significantly enhances worker safety on job sites. Proper training, inspection, and maintenance of the PFAS components are also essential to ensure their effectiveness and reliability in protecting workers from falls.
How To Select Effective Fall Arrest Equipment
Fall arrest equipment is crucial for ensuring the safety of workers working at heights. Choosing the right fall arrest equipment is important for preventing falls and minimizing the risk of injury. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting effective fall arrest equipment:
- Understand the work environment: The type of fall arrest equipment you need will depend on the nature of the work being performed and the height of the work area. It is important to understand the type of hazards that workers will face when working at height.
- Choose the right type of fall arrest equipment: There are different types of equipment, such as harnesses, lanyards, and self-retracting lifelines. Select the equipment that will best protect the specific task at hand.
- Consider the weight capacity: Ensure that the fall arrest equipment can support the worker’s weight and any tools or equipment they may be carrying. Be sure to check the weight capacity of the equipment before making a purchase.
- Check for compliance: Ensure that the fall arrest equipment you select meets the safety standards of regulatory bodies such as OSHA. This will ensure that the equipment is safe and effective for use.
- Training and maintenance: Proper training in using fall arrest equipment is crucial for the safety of workers. Also, ensure that the equipment is regularly inspected and maintained to ensure it is in good working condition.
- Comfort and fit: The fall arrest equipment should fit properly and comfortably. This will encourage workers to wear the equipment at all times, increasing their safety and minimizing the risk of injury.
By considering these factors, you can select effective fall arrest equipment that will help to protect workers and prevent falls.
Different D-Rung Harness Placement For Different Jobs
D-rung harness placement is important when selecting a harness for a particular job. The following are different types of harnesses and their corresponding D-rung placements for different jobs:
- Standard Harness: The standard fall arrest harness includes a D-rung placed on the back, making it suitable for high-distance jobs. This type of harness can be used with rope descent, rope grab, and lifeline systems.
- Climbing Harness: A climbing harness is recommended for jobs requiring a lot of climbing. The D-rungs are placed on the front of the harness, allowing a fall away from the structure being climbed for a safe landing. Front D-rung placement also makes using a rope grab connecting device easier.
- Positioning Harness: These harnesses are used in high jobs that require hands-free movement. The D-rungs are located on the hips, allowing attachment from either or both sides. They are also referred to as ventral harness systems.
- Retrieval Harness: This type of harness is used for fall arrest rescue or drops in enclosed spaces like a stairwell. The D-rungs are located on both shoulders, offering a connection from above.
- Construction Belt Harness: Similar to a positioning harness, this type offers D-rung support from the hips. The difference is a construction belt offers alternative attachment options, supportive padding, and accessory placement.
It’s important to note that the placement of D-rungs on the harness should be determined by the specific job performed and its associated hazards. Employers should train their workers to use and adjust their harnesses based on the job. Workers should also ensure their harness is properly fitted and adjusted for maximum safety while working at heights.
Selecting effective fall arrest equipment is crucial for ensuring the safety of workers working at heights. To select the right fall arrest equipment, it’s important to understand the work environment and the type of hazards workers will face. Different types of fall arrest equipment, such as harnesses, lanyards, and self-retracting lifelines, should be chosen based on the specific task. Other important factors to consider include weight capacity, compliance with safety standards, training and maintenance, and comfort and fit.
By considering these factors, workers can select effective fall arrest equipment that will help prevent falls and minimize the risk of injury. Remember, safety should always be a top priority when working at heights, and proper fall arrest equipment is crucial to achieving that safety.