There are so many choices when selecting safety harnesses—different types of buckles, padding, impact indicators, and more. All OSHA-compliant harnesses will keep workers from plummeting to the ground below, but pricier models will do more to prevent injury; they may have additional padding in essential locations, more adjustment points, additional stretch in the webbing, or other safety features.
It’s an employer’s responsibility to select the right harnesses based on the type and risk level of each job. But even the most expensive harness can fail if it’s not in top condition. It can’t be said enough: always, always inspect a harness prior to wearing it. Specifically, this includes:
1. D-rings and buckles
Carefully check that all hardware is free from cracks, is not misshapen, and does not have sharp edges, corrosion, or pitting. The D-ring should pivot freely, with no broken stitching or fraying of the attachment. Inspect pads for any damage and wear, plus check that impact indicators are not activated. All buckles should engage properly, move (or not move) as intended, and not be distorted. Any of these problems signal that the harness must be taken out of service.
Run the webbing through your fingers along the entire length of the webbing, on both sides. If it feels hard, different than it should, or has any nicks and cuts, it should no longer be used. Also, inspect it for damaged fibers frayed edges, broken fibers, pulled stitches, cuts, burns and chemical damage. Any of these defects put the safety of your employees at risk.
3. Plastic parts
Check all plastic parts for cracks or damage, as you would with the D-rings and buckles. Again, don’t take chances!
4. Check label
The label is full of important information, so make sure the writing is legible. The label will tell you the manufacturer, manufacturing standards, and instructions for wearing it properly.
Working above ground level requires a harness that will do the job it is intended to do. Make inspecting harnesses a top priority for your company. If you have even a small suspicion about the condition of a harness, immediately take it out of service and replace it. Your employees’ lives are on the line.