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Ensuring Correct Use of Fall Protection Systems

Fall protection covers, but is not restricted to, wire rope rails, solid rails and even travel restraints (harnesses with lanyards that stop you from reaching the edge from where you might fall). 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

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 find out when the harness was last inspected professionally (the tag should have this piece of information). 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 Use

When deciding on a lanyard you have to ask one basic question: what is the distance between my anchor point and the lower level? Now check whether it has been attached properly. 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. For a retractable lanyard, the casing and your anchor point must be attached together. Lanyards that resemble bungee cords may be used 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. Unless you’re using structural steel or an engineered anchor point (in aerial lifts, for example), you should know for certain that the anchor point is enough. Of course, this should be done by no less than a registered professional engineer. Safety is all or nothing. And if you want to be safe all the way, you should only trust certified experts.

Proper Fall Clearance

Additionally, your anchor point must limit your free-fall distance to only a maximum of 6 feet. Let’s say you have a 6-foot lanyard with a deceleration device and you’re tied up at your feet. 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). Such forces can be extremely dangerous for 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.

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