Before purchasing a fall arrest harness buyers should note that they are not all the same. A compliance level harness will have limited or no extra features while a specialty harness will have unique features to meet specific applications or non-standard environments.
The following points should be considered when purchasing a harness.
What tasks do you need the harness to perform?
The H-Style harness is a full body harness manufactured for general use. It comes standard with front and rear fall arrest D’s and adjustable chest, torso and leg straps. It is a lightweight harness with simple design allowing freedom of movement for general height work.
The Riggers harness is an H-style harness with the addition of a waist belt and side D’s for work positioning. Ideal for tasks that require occasional hands free work .
The Confined Space harness comes in a variety of configurations. The feature that stands it apart from other harnesses is the addition of pickup or rescue points on the shoulder straps. These are for attachment of a spreader bar for use when there is constricted access.
The Tower Workers harness comes equipped with forward rings and a drop seat or buttock pad. This is designed to hold the user in position to allow hands free work for extended periods of time. It is ideal for all tower or pole work.
The Rope Access or Rescue style harness is designed to provide support and reduce pressure points during prolonged suspension. These harnesses differ from fall arrest-specific harnesses in that the worker is retained in a semi-sitting position.
How often will you be using your harness?
A compliance level harness is made to be compliant and cheap. These harnesses may not be padded or featured and are only suited for occasional use.
A standard level will have additional padding and may have other features like quick connect buckles. With an increased level of comfort and ease of use it is ideal for regular use.
A premium harness is ideal for use over an extended period of time. It is fully featured harness with increased padding and other features to increase its functionality.
Does the harness fit correctly?
While some workers mistakenly prefer a loose fitting full-body harness for comfort. A firm fit is required to prevent serious injury in the event of a fall.
Do not hesitate to try on a few harnesses. Placement and connection of the chest strap, leg straps, back strap and D-ring critically affect harness fit. Full-body harnesses are designed to prevent injury, but they must fit correctly to work properly.
Donning the Harness
The ability to fit and adjust a harness correctly is important. If the harness has been donned properly, it will function as intended in the event of a fall. Some manufacturers’ adjustable straps are often complicated and are easily twisted.
When adjustments are difficult to make or the harness is uncomfortable it is less likely that the harness will be used or fitted correctly.
What extra features do you require your harness to have?
The premium range of harnesses usually come standard with alloy hardware, quick-connect buckles, locking adjusters and breathable, moisture wicking, padding that reduces heat and moisture entrapment.
Extra features may include
- Webbing treated with protective Teflon finish can extend harness life offering cost savings.
- Stainless steel hardware is ideal for harnesses that are used in marine or water or sewerage utilities.
- Locking or quick adjusters and anti-slip buckles can stop webbing creep.
- Equipment or tool loops are a feature of rope access and rescue harnesses.
Is Cost Important?
If you work in conditions that mean your harness is likely to be come contaminated or dirty purchasing a cheaper compliant harness may be wise. Treating the harness as a consumable item rather than an expensive asset may mean you are more inclined to dispose of it once it is contaminated.
Do Not Hesitate to Consult Professionals for Advice
Choosing the correct fall arrest harness for your work is important and can be difficult. The advice given in the article should be used as a guide only. If you are in doubt about your needs for a specific application, or are after more general advice, do not hesitate to contact Height Dynamics for further information