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Ensuring Correct Use of Fall Protection Systems

Fall protection systems are composed of solid rails, wire rope rails, travel restraints (harnesses with lanyards to keep you away from the edge from which you can fall), and many more. Fall arrest is what workers usually mean when they say “tied-off – you have a harness, a lanyard, and an anchor point.

Correct Harness Use

The first thing that should be done when putting on a harness is to examine it. Look for indications of wear and tear everywhere, from straps to buckle to every plastic fitting and grommet. Also see the last date of inspection (the is usually indicated on 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). Be sure to tuck the ends of your straps safely into the provided fasteners (anything that hangs around could get caught in something or loosened all the way).

Proper Lanyard Usage

When deciding on a lanyard you have to ask one basic question: what is the distance between my anchor point and the lower level? Now check if it is attached correctly. If you’re using a lanyard with a deceleration device, be sure that device is solidly attached to your D-ring so that proper deployment is assured. If you’re using a retractable, the casing has to be attached to the anchor point. Lanyards that resemble bungee cords may be used either way.

Proper Anchor Point

According to the OSHA, anchorages used in personal fall arrest equipment should be able to support at least 5,000 pounds per attached person. Except when using an engineered anchor point or structural steel (as on a fall protection device, for instance), you should know that the anchor point is adequate. Of course, this should be done by no less than a registered professional engineer. Safety is all or nothing. And if your goal is to achieve safety, you should only give your trust to certified experts.

Proper Fall Clearance

Additionally, your anchor point must limit your free-fall distance to only a maximum of 6 feet. Say you’re tied up around the feet, and your lanyard is 6 feet long and has 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). These forces can cause serious, if not fatal, damage to the body’s internal organs. Hence, the anchor point must at least level with the D-ring. If not feasible, retractable lanyards, nets, railings and other alternatives must be explored.

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