8 Lessons Learned: Gear

How to Ensure Proper Usage 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 people typically mean when you are “tied-off” – there’s a harness with lanyard, and an anchor point.

Proper Harness Usage

The first thing that has to be done when using a harness is examining it. Scan each strap, buckle, plastic fitting and grommet for signs of wear and tear. Also see the last date of inspection (the is usually indicated on the tag). If you are totally certain that the harness is in good shape, put it on and make adjustments as needed (never too loose nor too 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.

Correct Lanyard Usage

When picking your lanyard, you should ask one easy but crucial question: how high is my anchor point from the lower level? Now take a look an see if it is properly attached. If you have a deceleration device on your lanyard, it should be securely attached to your D-ring to ensure correct deployment. If you’re using a retractable, the casing has to be attached to the anchor point. If a lanyard looks just like a bungee cord, it may be used either way.

Proper Anchor Point

The OSHA requires personal fall arrest equipment to be able to carry a minimum of 5,000 pounds per attached individual. 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. Certainly, this should be done strictly by a registered professional engineer no less. Safety is all or nothing. And if you want true safety, you should only entrust it in the hands of certified experts.

Proper Fall Clearance

Moreover, your anchor point should limit your free-fall distance to 6 feet or lower. Say you’re tied up around the feet, and your lanyard is 6 feet long and has a deceleration device. Your freefall should exceed 10 feet for that deceleration device to work (6 feet for the entire length of the lanyard plus the 4 feet between your feet and the D-ring). Such forces can be extremely dangerous for your body’s internal organs. That’s why the anchor point must always at least with the D-ring. Otherwise, other options should be considered, like railings, nets, and the rest.

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