Looking On The Bright Side of Safety

How to Ensure Proper Usage of Fall Protection Systems

Fall protection systems consist of solid rails, wire rope rails and even travel restraints (those harnesses that are attached to lanyards and prevent you from getting to the edge from which you may fall), and more. Fall arrest is what workers usually mean when they say “tied-off – you have a harness, a lanyard, and an anchor point.

Proper Harness Usage

The first thing that should be done when putting on a harness is to examine it. Scan each strap, buckle, plastic fitting and grommet for signs of wear and tear. Find out as well when the harness was last inspected (this bit of information is usually found in the tag). If you feel absolutely sure that the harness is good for use, then put it on and adjust as necessary (not so loose, not so tight). Make sure all the ends of your straps are well tucked into their fasteners – anything that hangs around might loosen entirely or get caught in something.

Proper Lanyard Usage

When choosing your lanyard, you must one easy question: how high from the lower level is my anchor point? Now check whether it has been attached properly. If your lanyard comes with a deceleration device, that device must be firmly attached to your D-ring for proper deployment. For retractables, the casing must be attached to the anchor point. A lanyard that looks like a bungee cord will be worn either way.

Proper Anchor Point

As per OSHA guidelines, anchors used in fall arrest systems must have a minimum capacity of 5,000 pounds for every attached person. Unless you’re using structural steel or an engineered anchor point (in aerial lifts, for example), you should know for certain that the anchor point is enough. Definitely, this must be done only by a registered professional engineer. Safety is all or nothing. And if you want to be safe all the way, you should only trust certified experts.

Proper Fall Clearance

Additionally, your anchor point must limit your free-fall distance to only a maximum of 6 feet. Scenario: you’re tied up at the feet with a 6-foot lanyard that comes with a deceleration device. You need to freefall past 10 feet for that deceleration device to engage (6 feet for the length of the lanyard and 4 feet for the distance between your feet and the D-ring). Such forces can be extremely dangerous for your body’s internal organs. In other words, the anchor point and the D-ring should at least level. If not feasible, retractable lanyards, nets, railings and other alternatives must be explored.

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