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Safety Harnesses

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The OSHA and ANSI regulations regarding safety harnesses have gone through many changes in the past few years. As recently as the mid-nineties, it was generally considered to be acceptable to use body belts as a safety harnesses in fall protection systems. However, body belts concentrate fall arrest forces on the abdomen, which can lead to long term damage even if a fall is successfully avoided.

Body harnesses, however, distribute forces across a person's entire torso. By using specially designed webbing and modern materials, body harnesses have not only stronger and safer, but also more comfortable to wear. Strong dee-rings attached to back of the body harness connect to lanyard, deceleration devices, and ultimately, secure anchorage to provide a complete modern fall protection system.

Differences in Commercial Safety Harnesses

The main differences in the safety harnesses that are commercially available have to do with comfort and ease of use. Some less expensive models do not include features such as cushioned webbing around the shoulders, which does not only reduce discomfort from arresting falls, but also helps reduce shoulder strain from carrying other personal equipment. They also may not include padded dee-ring mounts, which are also useful for orienting a harness while donning.

Safety features for more expensive models include side dee-rings and buckles that are designed for both quick connection and to prevent accidental opening. Side dee-rings are useful when using multiple points of anchorage, and for attachment to rails and horizontal lifelines. Some more expensive models also include body belts for increased support.


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