How to Ensure Proper Usage 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.
Correct Harness Use
The first thing that should be done when putting on a harness is to examine 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 feel completely sure that the harness is in safe form, wear it and adjust accordingly (not too loose or too 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.
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 your lanyard comes with a deceleration device, that device must be firmly attached to your D-ring for proper deployment. For retractables, the casing must be attached to the anchor point. Lanyards that resemble bungee cords may be used either way.
Proper Anchor Point
According to the OSHA, anchorages used in personal fall arrest equipment should be able to support at least 5,000 pounds per attached person. 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. Certainly, this should be done strictly by a registered professional engineer no less. When it comes to safety, it’s always all or nothing. And if you want true safety, you should only entrust it in the hands of 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. Scenario: you’re tied up at the feet with a 6-foot lanyard that comes with a deceleration device. Your freefall should exceed 10 feet for that deceleration device to work (6 feet for the entire length of the lanyard plus the 4 feet 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. Otherwise, other options should be considered, like railings, nets, and the rest.