Working at height requires that the number one priority be the worker’s safety, and for this, a safety harness comes in handy. A personal protection element (or PPE) allows the operator to work safely and comfortably, when repairing a traffic light on public roads or changing a signal lamp in a cell phone tower. There are different models of safety harnesses – depending on the work they are subjected to – with each manufacturer offering diverse configurations for each model. Here is a small guide to choosing a safety harness correctly.
A little history
The safety harness as a fall arrest device invested at the end of the 19th century in Holland. Its invention goes to the mountaineer Jeanne Immink. However, it was not until the early 1970s when the Occupational Health Safety Administration (OSHA) began regulating work at heights, that the use of fall arrest devices was mandatory in the workplace.
Old-fashioned safety harness
At that time, the maximum protection was simply a leather belt with steel eyebolts, which prevented the fall but not the injuries caused by the sudden stop in the air. Only in 1998, with the prohibition of using these primitive devices, began the actual evolution of safety harnesses, until reaching the current models, based on harnesses for the military use of the mid-20th century.
Safety harness components:
A safety harness design allows support for general purposes. It mostly consists of three D-rings for attaching the connectors to the anchor, leg loops, adjustment points, pads, and hardware. Optionally they can have a fourth chest ring D for greater security, although it is not mandatory.
The body of the harness forms a safety strap. A safety harness is made of a polyester compound for greater security and resistance. The D-rings are located (the rings where the connectors, cables, or cables link the harness with the anchor points).
They also have adjustment points, which allow the harness to be adapted to each operator’s body. Additionally, at the junction points, where the harness will receive the greatest stress in the event of a fall, there is hardware. Finally, at the points where the harness will hold the operator’s body the most, are the pads.
Classification of safety harnesses according to the protection offered.
- Class 1:These body belts have a design to position the worker in a specific place and prevent falls. However, do not offer protection against falls of more than one meter.
- Class 2:they are chest harnesses that prevent falls in slippery places. However, the design is such that protects the operator from vertical free falls. They also allow users to lift loads from tanks or underground facilities.
- Class 3: the full-body safety harness protects against the most severe free falls.
Within the Class 3 classification, there are dozens of safety harness models. Each one adapted to a different work scenario: there are dirt-proof, reflective, with protection against electric shocks, with rings to hang fall arrest tools, and so on.