Universal safety harnesses can protect you from falls if used correctly. You want a safety harness that is easy to put on and adjust. The one you choose needs to stay comfortable and not pinch, so you can do your job. Every element of your harness is there to provide a level of safety while you work.
How to Use a Universal Safety Harness
Before putting on your universal safety harness, inspect it for any wear and tear if it is not new or other workers have used the harness recently. You will want to check for any damage such as fraying, cuts, tears, rust, or excessive wear.
A typical harness is put on similarly to a vest with the safety D-ring placed between your shoulder blades. You will need to check the leg straps to ensure they will wrap comfortably and snugly around each thigh. The leg buckles will either pull snug with spring tension or have holes for adjustments like the ones for a belt.
You will need to adjust the shoulder straps and the chest strap to fit your frame and make the five-point harness efficient. Some universal harnesses use an abdominal strap as well as the chest strap.
As you check the fit of each strap, slide one hand under the strap. It should fit easily, however if you can fit your fist between your body and the strap, then readjust to eliminate the gap.
The D-ring should be compatible with your company’s fall protection system that is ANSI compliant. The universal safety harness you choose should meet OSHA and ANSI standards to avoid violations.
A universal safety harness may come in two sizes: a One Size Fits Most and XL-XXL. Be sure to check the weight capacity before using a harness. Most rely on total weight from the worker, clothes, outerwear, tools, and equipment. The One Size Fits Most may have a weight capacity range of up to 310 pounds. Keep in mind that some harnesses are not suitable for shorter workers due to minimum adjustments on the chest strap.
Why Use a Universal Safety Harness
Using a five-point universal safety harness can save your life while on the job as long as it fits appropriately and meets OSHA and ANSI guidelines. When it comes to OSHA violations, fall protection is listed as a frequently cited standard.
You need to use a personal fall protection system if you are working at an elevation greater than four feet in general. Workers at shipyards should use a harness at elevations above five feet while construction workers should use one at six feet and above.
To stay within the guidelines while on a walking or working surface with unprotected sides and edges, you can wear a personal fall system that includes the universal safety harness. You can also use the harness to protect against falls while working on a leading edge, around holes, and in hoist areas.
If you work with dangerous equipment six feet above or higher, a universal safety harness can protect you from a fatal fall. This includes working around skylights and roofing work on low-slope and steep roofs.
Other types of work that require a personal fall system include residential construction and wall openings.
Universal Safety Harness Options
Depending on the brand you choose for your universal safety harness, other options may be available. Some brands provide a wear indicator that allows you to easily identify when the straps or harness is damaged. This could be in the form of a color indicator within the webbing.
Another option includes a customizable patch that will not interfere with the integrity of the harness or get in your way while you are working. Finished webbing ends will reduce the likelihood of frayed ends.
Some harnesses feature one or two lanyard keepers that may break-away to keep them from getting tangled while you work.
Depending on your harness, it may come in two colors for easier orientation when putting the harness on over your outerwear. Padding is another option, but you will want to make sure the harness fits appropriately with the padding over outerwear and you do not get too hot while working outdoors during the summer while wearing the padding. This can include shoulder or leg padding.
Belts for tools and additional support are an option with many brands. You will want to confirm that you do not exceed the weight capacity of your harness when wearing a belt with additional tools attached.
If you climb a great a deal on the job, you may want to choose a universal safety harness with an additional D-ring located on the front of the harness for extra stability while scaling or using a vertical-ladder climbing system.
As you shop for a new universal safety harness, keep a few tips in mind.
*The webbing should resist the natural elements as many workers are outdoors in extreme weather. The webbing should also resist conductivity and chemical fumes, depending on the type of work required.
*The padding should be durable and able to withstand extreme weather and other conditions. You will want to confirm that the padding does not become brittle during cold weather or uncomfortably hot during the summer.
*The hardware on your universal safety harness should be the right size to use with your company’s personal fall protection system. Overly large hardware can be too bulky for the nature of the work and hardware that is too small may not work as efficiently.
All new harnesses should come with easy-to-understand directions and include the brand’s specific guidelines. Most companies print instructions in multiple languages including English and Spanish.
Whichever universal safety harness you choose needs to meet OSHA and ANSI guidelines to avoid violations as well as reduce the likelihood of an accident or fall.
Take a look at the available safety harnesses made of durable construction and materials before making a selection. You will also find several options to make your universal safety harness more efficient and personalized.