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 has to be done when using a harness is examining 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 are totally certain that the harness is in good shape, put it on and make adjustments as needed (never too loose nor too 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).
Correct Lanyard Use
When choosing your lanyard, you must one easy question: how high from the lower level is my anchor point? Now take a look an see if it is properly attached. 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. 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. Except in cases where you have structural steel or an engineered anchor point (as an aerial lift, for example), you must be aware that the anchor point will hold. Of course, this should be done by no less than a registered professional engineer. When it comes to safety, it’s always all or nothing. And if you want to be safe all the way, you should only trust certified experts.
Proper Fall Clearance
On top of that, your anchor point has to restrict your free-fall distance to a mere 6 feet or less. 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). The forces can be damaging enough to your body’s internal organs. Hence, the anchor point must at least level with the D-ring. If this isn’t possible, other alternatives have to be considered, such as retractable lanyards, railings, and more.