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
Trained, the first thing that needs to be done when wearing a harness is inspecting it. Check for signs of wear and tear on every strap, plastic fitting, grommet and buckle. Also see the last date of inspection (the is usually indicated on the tag). If you feel absolutely sure that the harness is good for use, then put it on and adjust as necessary (not so loose, not so tight). Make it a point to tuck the ends of your straps into their fasteners – anything flopping around could get caught in something or be knocked loose.
Proper Lanyard Usage
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 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. A lanyard that looks like a bungee cord will be worn 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. Of course, this should be done by no less than a registered professional engineer. Besides, safety is an all-or-nothing proposition. And if your goal is to achieve safety, you should only give your trust to certified experts.
Proper Fall Clearance
Additionally, your anchor point must limit your free-fall distance to only a maximum of 6 feet. Say you’re tied up around the feet, and your lanyard is 6 feet long and has a deceleration device. You have to freefall beyond 10 feet before that deceleration device works (6 feet for the lanyard and 4 feet from your feet to the D-ring). These forces can cause serious, if not fatal, damage to the body’s internal organs. In other words, the anchor point and the D-ring should at least level. If not feasible, retractable lanyards, nets, railings and other alternatives must be explored.