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Safety - Fall Protection - Harnesses

Updated on March 7, 2009

Fall Arrest Equipment Instructions - Harnesses

Falls are one of the greatest causes of serious injuries and fatalities in both the work place and at home. This series of lens gives detailed information on fall prevention and fall protection. Specifically this lens has information on the use of fall protection harnesses.

About the Author

What makes me qualified to tell you about fall prevention and protection?

I have over 20 years experience of working in a variety of industrial environments that have all included working at height. These include Petrochem, Metal Manufacturing, Power Generation and Construction.

In that time I have promoted safe working at height to everybody.

For a number of years I was employed by a large American Corporation and was deemed to be the local Fall Prevention and Protection expert and introduced many new systems and methods of work.

I am now in a position where I would like to share some of the knowledge I have gained over the years.

General Warnings

1. For Safe and efficient use of the Fall Arrest Harness, it is essential, prior to use, to read, understand and comply with the advice given on this instruction sheet. Additional copies of this sheet are available on request.

2. Before using, users shall have received adequate training.

3. The user is responsible for checking the safety devices before use.

4. Never use equipment that is visibly not in good condition, any equipment showing signs of deterioration shall not be used and will be quarantined until checked.

5. Replacement of any original parts by parts from other sources is strictly forbidden.

6. The fall arrest harnesses described in this instruction sheet shall be used exclusively for personal protection purposes and not for any other purpose including slinging or lifting of tools or materials.

7. Never use the equipment for the protection of more than one person at a time.

8. Any equipment involved in a fall arrest event must not be re-used until a competent inspector has inspected it.

9. Instructions for any other equipment being used in conjunction with the lanyard must also be fully understood prior to use.

Equipment Description

The fall arrest harness is a portable personal fall arrest device. The system comprises:

- A specially designed fall arrests harness complete with a work positioning belt. It is fitted with two D-ring fall arrest anchor points and two D-ring work positioning points, attachment points will differ dependant on the manufacturer and the model of harness being used. The Fall arrest harness has a label identifying the date of manufacture, and information in accordance with appropriate standards. It is also good practice to have a label indicating the owner.

- Red tell-tale tags are often fitted to the front chest straps. If the harness has been exposed to excessive forces due to a fall these tell-tale tags will become detached or loosened from the webbing. Alternatively some manufacturers use tell-tale stitching which becomes frayed when exposed to excessive tension. The user must be familiar with the tell-tale on the harness being used.

- The fall arrest harness is for use in any vertical or horizontal position. In the event of a fall, the fall arrest harness will always arrest the fall automatically distributing loads across the body. If the user falls, shock loading is absorbed by the shock absorbing pack in the connecting components.

- This equipment must be correctly adjusted to suit the user.


The fall arrest harness must be used in all conditions where an anchor point is used to provide protection against falls or alternatively it may be used as a work positioning device. It must be used in conjunction with other fall arrest devices as part of a fall arrest system. It is recommended that the rear D-ring placed in the centre of the shoulder blades be used for all fall arrest applications other than when using ladder safety devices when the front D-ring may be used. A shock absorbing pack must be included in the system if it is to be used as a fall arrest device. The shock absorbing pack is not required when the harness is being used for work positioning. A suitable anchor point must be used as high as possible above the user. The equipment must be capable of alignment without difficulty along the direction of the load in the event of a fall. A competent person must inspect, prior to use, any assembly requiring the construction of a temporary anchorage point.

Fitting and Removal

- Note the technique for putting on a harness may vary slightly dependant on manufacturer and model of harness being used.

- Ensure all straps are not twisted.

- Lift harness by rear D-ring, pass arms through shoulder straps, as if putting on a jacket.

- Close belt connector and check belt is correctly adjusted.

- Pass each leg strap under legs and fasten to square link, tighten ensuring leg loops are not twisted and webbing emerges from buckle in forward direction.

- Check and tighten all straps according to comfort and secure all loose webbing.

- Adjust dorsal D-ring if necessary to be between shoulder blades.

- To remove, reverse steps above.

Warning: The fall arrest harness must not be removed at any time when the user is exposed to a fall hazard.

Checks Prior to USE

The following Checks must be carried out before each use:

1: Check the fall arrest harness.

- Check the inspection date is within the last six months.

- Check the condition; reject any equipment showing signs of wear, traces of rust, signs of physical damage etc.

- Check the correct operation of the fasteners by closing the fastener and checking that they are secure.

- Check that the webbing fabric is sound and that no fraying has occurred.

- Check that all stitching is tight and unbroken.

- Check tell-tale tags and stitching is in place and secure.

- Check that the anchoring to be used is above the user and in line with the working position, within a limit of 30o and that the correct harness d-ring is to be used.

2: Check the connectors.

- Refer to the relevant instruction sheet for the connectors being used.

3: Check other system components.

- Refer to the relevant instruction sheet for the components being used.

4: Check the potential fall area.

- Check that the potential fall area is free from obstacles.

- Clearance must allow the user’s fall to be stopped before encountering any obstacle, allow a 3m safety distance for extension of the shock-absorbing lanyard.

- Ensure that no obstacle is liable to be struck because of any swinging motion.

5: Check the surrounding area.

- Check that the fall arrest harness is not liable to come into contact with any sharp edges including any tools being carried in a tool belt.

- Check that the harness or any connectors will not be exposed to temperature exceeding 100oC or to Mechanical or Chemical corroding agents.

- Check that there is a competent person nearby to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency.

6: Have a rescue plan in place before starting work.

WARNING: The fall arrest harness is an adjustable item. For maximum performance it must be adjusted correctly to suit the user.


- With the unit correctly attached to the anchor point and adjusted to suit the user, the user has no more to do to operate the fall arrest system.

- In the event of a fall the user will be restrained immediately by the system.

- In the event of a fall where the fall arrest device has been deployed all equipment being used must be quarantined for inspection.


- Each person should be issued with a fall protection harness and have an individual locker for the storage of the harness. Harnesses must be returned to this locker after use to allow regular inspections to be carried out. A master key will allow the inspector to inspect harnesses without having to contact the individual.

- Upon completion of the task, the harness must be neatly placed in the storage locker.

Checks and Maintenance

To ensure safe operation of the fall arrest equipment it must be kept in good condition.

- Clean the outside of any components (use soapy water for textiles and De-solv-it for metal parts), allow to dry in air, away from the sun and any direct heat and sheltered from damp.

- Any metal part showing signs of damage or deformation must be removed from service and be checked by a competent person.

- Check tell-tale tags or stitching are in place and secure.

- When checking the fall arrest harness it must be fully inspected and checked visually.

- Harnesses must be checked by a competent person every six months.

Permissible Attachments

In conformity with EN363 and good standard practices, this equipment may be integrated into a fall arrest system which shall comprise:

- An anchor point (for roof work this anchor point can be the installed lifeline cable system)

- Rope grab and textile rope, retractable lanyard

- A connector (including a lanyard with shock absorber)

- A fall arrest harness (a back attachment is recommended)

Any other combination must be authorised by a competent person before use.

Warnings against Hazardous operations

The following should be avoided:

- Use of equipment that has not been inspected.

- Use of the equipment without a minimum clearance of 3m.

- Connection to the harness at points other than those specified.

- Deviation from the vertical of the anchorage point by more than 30o

- Use of the equipment where there is a risk of injury due to swinging.

- Use of a knotted or looped fall arrest harness.

- Use of equipment that has been put into quarantine for any reason.

- Use of the equipment for more than one person at a time.

- Hindrance of the free movement of the system.

- Attaching the equipment by means other than the attachment point.

- Use of the equipment for purposes other than the intended use.

- Use of the fall arrest harness lanyard for slinging or lifting.

- Insertion of foreign substances into the equipment.

- Playing with the equipment (for example “bungee jumping”)


If the equipment appears to be faulty in any way it must not be used and must be inspected by a competent person before being put back into service.


The information in this lens is provided for information only and does not intend to replace any training that a user must receive. The author can accept no responsibility of any kind for any accident, injury, damage or loss resulting from a person or persons using this information.

This information must not be used to replace local standards, procedures and training.

Every job must be fully assessed for risk and method before any works are performed.

Buy a Safety Harness - Make yourself safe before it is too late!

Safety Harness Related Products - Get the right attachments to suit your work.

It is important that you use the correct accessories with your harness. Check the type of lanyard that you need, or other items such as caribinas.

Safety Books

If you want to know more these books are well recommended.

Do you have information to add? Is there something more that you would like to see? Have I missed something out?

Add your comments here for all to read.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Every people involved especially in construction industry must be careful because they are prone in job risks. Thatâs why in Australia, they must undergo in special induction training and get their White Card as they passed it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Every people involved in construction industry must be careful because they are prone in job risks. Thatâs why in Australia, they must undergo in special induction training and get their White Card as they passed it.

    • profile image

      storagelockers3 6 years ago

      This lens is written in, I was looking for the storage lockers information. Thank

      you and your share this storage lockers lens at here.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I just recently bought my first seat harness and made a chest harness from webbing (with a water knot) for use in rock rescue. So this was of particular interest to me. Hanging off 100-foot cliffs kinda makes me a bit safety conscious. :)