One of the most challenging issues in the fall protection industry is creating a comfortable harness that a worker wants to wear, and wear correctly. Manufacturers have engineered a host of characteristics that emphasize worker comfort. Flexible webbing, stand-up D-rings and a harness structure that helps a worker put on a piece of equipment easily and correctly are just a few of the features being added to make fall safety equipment easier and more comfortable to use.
Miller Fall Protection conducted extensive research when designing its latest harness to learn what improvements workers wanted in their fall safety equipment. The company introduced the Revolution Harness with 11 key features based on user-identified needs.
"The new Miller Revolution Harness features a unique, rotary design that provides greater comfort in bending and mobility," says Puleo. "With a better ergonomic fit, the PivotLink Connection provides a natural hip rotation point, as well as the capability to independently adjust the upper and lower torso of the harness for greater comfort."
Miller also incorporated a more pliable webbing, easier to use adjustment buckles and a semi-flexible back shield. According to Meyer, DBI/SALA's ExoFit XP harness has removable padding in an x-design on the shoulders and back, leg padding, quick-connect buckles and other comfort features so workers can wear the harness for an extended period of time.
"Workers will wear it, thus increasing productivity because workers won't take it off and put it back on so many times in a work day - it's that comfortable," he states.
MSA recently introduced its TechnaCurve harness system to the market. The curvilinear comfort system, secure-fit buckles and shoulder and sub-pelvic pads add to wearer comfort.
The company's self-retracting life lines also have a unique feature in the industry. "Our self-retracting lanyards come with a field-replaceable life line," explains Apel. "The customer can replace the line in the field without sending the equipment back to the manufacturer."
The bottom line is that fall protection is an important element in keeping your workers safe and alive. Educate them through training, teach them how to calculate total fall distance and demonstrate the proper fit for fall safety equipment.
Also allow worker input when it comes to choosing fall safety equipment. They're more likely to wear the equipment if they know it will be comfortable and easy to use throughout their work day.
Without the proper anchorage point, your fall protection system won't be much help during a falling incident.
"You can't hook up an anchorage connector to a water pipe or a stairway railing because that won't hold 5,000 lbs.," says Kim Meyer of DBI/SALA. "You need to have an engineer okay the structural integrity of the anchorage point."
OSHA requires that anchorage points be selected and evaluated by a qualified person, usually a structural engineer. In new construction, the engineer on site could also provide that information.
Bob Apel of MSA points out a few quality features of an anchorage point. "A good anchorage point will be higher than the back D-ring of the harness on the wearer. This limits your total fall distance. Also, it should be located directly overhead, which limits your potential for a swing fall," he states. "It should have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 lbs., and should be easily accessible by the user."