Fall Protection: Don’t Let Safety Fall by the Wayside

Stay Informed

Fall protection has progressively advanced over the years from single lap/torso belts to full body harnesses with significant safety features to quickly restrain a worker in the event of a fall. In industrial and construction settings, workers often need to reach elevated areas to retrieve material or place items for storage. This can expose them to fall hazards that are anywhere from 2 feet to greater than 15 feet in height.

Use fall protection to stay safe while working from height. Be sure to inspect your harness and use equipment correctly to stay protected in the event of a fall.

Inspect the Harness Before Every Use

Along with proper fit, a user must inspect the condition of a harness before every use to ensure that it will be adequate in the event of a fall. This is an important precaution because individual harnesses may be used by multiple associates throughout the course of the day or week. Remember, fall harnesses are often the final positive means of restraining you in the event of a fall. The condition of that equipment is vital.

When inspecting your fall protection harness prior to each use, look for the following:

  • Webbing: Cuts, tears, fraying, stretching, chemical damage, heavy soiling. Grasp the webbing and bend it toward yourself to expose deficiencies. Do this for the entire lengths of the harness, looking at both sides.
  • D-Rings: Cracks, breaks, sharp edges, corrosion. Check D-rings for distortion, cracks, breaks, and rough or sharp edges. The D-ring should pivot freely.
  • Buckles: Distortions, broken grommets, or inoperable clips. Inspect for any unusual wear, frayed or cut fibers, or broken stitching of the buckle attachments. For quick connect buckles, the outer bars and center bars must be straight. Make sure the dual-tab release mechanism is free of debris and engages properly.

Once you’ve thoroughly inspected the harness, make sure you’re wearing it correctly.

5 Steps to Properly Wearing a Harness

  1. Hold the harness by the back D-ring. Shake harness to allow all straps to fall into place. If chest, leg, and/or waist straps are buckled, release straps and unbuckle at this time.
  2. Slip straps over the shoulders so that the D-ring is located in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
  3. Pull the leg strap between the legs and connect to the opposite end. Repeat with the second leg strap. If it’s a belted harness, connect the waist strap after leg straps.
  4. Connect chest strap and position in the mid-chest area. Tighten to keep shoulder straps taut.
  5. After all straps have been buckled, tighten all buckles so that the harness fits snug but allows full range of movement. Pass excess strap through loop keepers.

A Few Reminders to Maintain a Safety Mindset

Truck and Transportation Tips

While operating a truck that requires fall protection, the harness must be securely attached to the lanyard at all times. Letting the lanyard hang while you address ground-level work leaves you open to the risk of injury when you begin the next task in an elevated area. It’s possible that you could forget to attach the lanyard.

Proper Fit First

Always ensure that your harness is maintained in its properly adjusted condition – chest strap at mid-chest, leg straps snug so you cannot fit your fist behind them, and the D-ring at the center of the back. If the harness is found to be deficient, stop the lift, readjust, and proceed with your work.

Store Equipment Carefully

When you’re finished for the day or on a break, always make sure the fall protection harnesses are properly stored. Keep them off the floor so that they cannot be run over or exposed to hazardous substances, dirt, or other influences. Take care of your equipment so that it takes care of you!

Safety Is Everybody’s Responsibility

As a visitor or observer in a warehouse facility, look for some of these risky behaviors: 

  • Leg straps dangling or loose
  • Lanyards not attached to an anchor point
  • Damaged harnesses
  • Improper storage

Coach fellow employees about the proper use of harnesses to minimize the risk of a significant fall.

Preventing Falls and Meeting OSHA Requirements

Stay protected at low or elevated heights with properly inspected fall protection that fits correctly. Preventing slips, trips and falls in the workplace is a high priority. OSHA recently revised its Walking-Working Surfaces rule to update standards on slips and falls.

Read about the new standards with this whitepaper, “Walking-Working Surfaces: OSHA Takes Major Steps to Overhaul Slips, Trips, and Falls Standard.” Download it now!

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