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Friday, October 13, 2023

Gearing Up for the Job: A Buyer’s Guide to Fall Protection PPE


Having the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial for workers in industries where fall hazards are present. Falls remain a leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities across many sectors. Understanding the options available and choosing PPE that provides adequate fall protection could save your life. This guide will walk through the key considerations when buying fall protection equipment to keep you safe on the jobsite.

Harnesses: The Foundation of Your Fall Protection System 

The full body harness serves as the attachment point connecting you to other components in a fall protection system. It distributes fall forces across your thighs, pelvis, chest, and shoulders rather than concentrating impact on one area. Harnesses come in different styles but make sure any harness you select is ANSI or OSHA compliant. Key factors to consider are:

  • Comfort level - Consider padded straps and material that breathes if working in hot conditions.

  • Adjustability - Look for adjustable straps to get a snug, customised fit.

  • D-ring location - Dorsal (middle back) D-rings are safest for fall arrest, while side and chest rings provide options.

  • Other features - Look for things like reflective materials or tool loops if needed.

Lanyards: Your Lifeline to the Anchor Point 

Lanyards connect your harness to the anchorage point so you can move around while staying protected. Shock absorbing lanyards provide some deceleration if a fall occurs. Choices include:

  • Rope or web material - Webbing is generally more durable while rope is more shock absorbing.

  • Length - 6 feet lets you work further from the anchor but avoid excessive slack.

  • Self-retracting lifelines - These can reduce trip hazards while automatically keeping the line taut.

Anchorage Points: Securing Your System

A properly chosen anchor point is strong enough to hold the sudden force generated if a fall occurs. OSHA requires anchors sustain at least 5,000 lbs per attached worker. Options include:

  • Structural beams - Installed eye bolts anchored into concrete pillars or steel framework provide fixed anchorage.

  • Rooftop anchors – Fall restraint systems installed permanently at roof edges give you flexibility to move.

  • Portable anchors - Attaching to sturdy objects like beams allows you to set up anchors as needed.

Full Fall Protection Systems: Putting it All Together 

Combining a harness, lanyard and anchors provides a complete system to protect from falls. But additional PPE enhances safety:

  • Descent devices - Used to rappel down if needed after a fall.

  • Retrieval mechanisms - Allows rescuers to safely bring you back up to the surface.

  • PFAS - Personal fall arrest systems stop you before hitting the ground.

Training: Ensuring Proper Use 

Any PPE is only effective if used correctly. Seek out thorough training for:

  • Proper fitting and inspection of equipment.

  • Understanding capabilities and limitations of each component.

  • Developing techniques to prevent material handling or positioning that could lead to falling.

  • Knowing how to properly anchor into different structures.

Following this guide when buying fall protection PPE allows you to invest in durable gear you can trust to keep you safe working at heights. The right harness, lanyards, anchors, and accessories give you flexibility while minimising risk for a fall. But proper training remains crucial - your equipment is only as effective as your knowledge in using it correctly. Take the time to learn techniques, inspection procedures and develop skills wearing your fall protection equipment. Doing so ensures you can work confidently knowing you are secured and protected from serious injury while on the job.


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