A safety harness is a component in a fall protection system that is meant to protect a worker in the event of a fall, and even to save a worker’s life!
The importance of fall protection cannot be stressed enough, especially in the construction industry. Falls are a major source of injury and death in the construction industry. Fall protection systems are utilized to protect a worker from the dangers of a fall, either through preventing the fall by keeping a worker away from a fall hazard or to arrest the fall quickly once it has occurred. An important component in a fall protection system is the safety harness.
A Safety Harness’s Purpose
A safety harness, also called a body harness, is defined by OSHA as “straps that secure about the employee in a manner to distribute the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest, and shoulders, with a means for attaching the harness to other components of a personal fall protection system.” A safety harness wraps around a worker’s body and connects to the rest of the fall protection system so that if the worker were to fall, the harness would hold up the worker while the rest of the system stopped the fall.
Safety harnesses do more than just attach to the worker, however. Many years ago, before safety harnesses were required, workers would wear body belts to attach to their fall protection systems. This was basically a belt that tied around the worker’s waist. However, during a fall, the entire force of the fall would be exerted at a worker’s waist, causing significant injury during a fall.
Safety harnesses distribute the force of a fall to those areas of the body that can withstand it, such as the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest, and shoulders, and they protect the more vulnerable areas of the body. A safety harness also holds a fallen worker upright during a fall, keeping the spine in a vertical position to minimize injury. Both of these are important purposes of the safety harness, so the harness itself must fit correctly and tightly to provide adequate protection for a worker in the event of a fall.
Safety harnesses are not meant to hold a worker suspended for any length of time, however. Suspension trauma is a dangerous condition where a safety harness cuts off the circulation of a fallen worker if suspended too long. Use of suspension straps and having a quickly deployed rescue plan are key after a fall has occurred.
Safe Keeper carries a wide range of fall protection products and accessories, from harnesses, lanyards, self-retracting lines and confined space entry equipment to anchorage points. Explore our inventory today!