If your job has you working on elevated structures, poles, and towers, you need a tower harness to protect you in the event of a fall. These safety harnesses are made slightly different than a universal safety harness. If you choose the correct one for your frame and the type of work you do, you will not only be comfortable, but you will also be
meeting OSHA guidelines.
How to Use a Tower Harness
Tower harnesses are similar to universal safety harnesses, but are made specifically for climbing structures like towers and poles. Before using a tower climbing harness, inspect the straps and hardware for any excessive wear, damage, or frayed ends.
Slide your arms into the harness just like you would a vest and center the harness on your torso. The leg straps should fit comfortably and attach either by a spring tension or a belt hole adjustment. You should be able to slide your hand between the strap and your leg, but not be able to slide your fist through. The tower harness should be fully adjustable with shoulder, leg, and chest straps.
Around your waist should be two D-rings used for positioning with one on each side, so you can attach easily to the tower. You will need to use both D-rings when getting into position. Never attach only one D-ring while working.
The chest strap features a D-ring as well as a D-ring between your shoulder blades across your back. These D-rings are for use with the fall protection system. The seat strap has an additional D-ring for extra support while working.
Your tower harness may include a double lanyard to help you climb as well as positioning straps and carabiners.
Why Use a Tower Harness
OSHA violations can lead to hefty penalties and fall protection is the number one standard frequently cited. By using an OSHA compliant tower climbing harness, you can avoid any penalties.
According to OSHA guidelines, anytime you are working at an elevation of four feet or higher in the general industry, you should use a fall protection system. If you are working in shipyards or construction sites, you are required to use a fall protection system at elevations of five feet and higher or six feet and higher, respectively.
If the nature of your work has you climbing to install skylights, work with dangerous equipment at high elevations, residential construction, work in areas with unprotected edges and sides, or on leading edges, a climbing tower harness and a fall protection system could save your life.
Your employer should provide tower climbing harness training before you start using the harness and fall protection systems. Each harness should come with easy-to-read directions.
Tower Harness Options
Depending on the brand of tower climbing harness you choose, there are several options available. Some harnesses are easier to put on than others, such as ones with fully removable chest straps.
Leg straps can either be connected, so that you have to step through each one and adjust, or hang so you can step through the waist and strap on the leg straps each time.
Padding is another option. Several harnesses offer padding, but some may hold up to extreme weather conditions better than others. You will want a brand with padding that will not become brittle during the cold winter months as well as fit comfortably over your outerwear. Padding in the saddle will make suspension work more comfortable.
Tower climbing harnesses should be easy and quick to adjust, but still provide comfort and security. You may be wearing your harness over heavy outerwear or over a thinner uniform, depending on the season and weather.
The clips used on tower harnesses vary. You may see a clip-in type buckle with position lock straps or a clip-in buckle. The position of your D-ring when not in use can make attachment easier. Some D-rings stay upright making attaching and positioning easier and quicker.
You will need to check out a harness sizing chart to ensure you receive the correct size for your frame. Sizes are typically available in Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large. Specific brands may also have sizes Extra Small and Extra Extra Large available.
Your tower climbing harness will probably come with loops for attaching gear. Depending on the brand, these loops could be sewn on or attached on a slide.
The harness may come in two contrasting colors to make orientation easier when putting the harness on and adjusting.
If you work on an oil rig, your harness may come with an optional derrick belt for workers on the monkey board. This additional fall protection may have a wide pad on the front with two D-rings.
The harness should resist extreme weather and temperatures. Choose a harness made of a durable construction with polyester webbing and plated hardware to resist corrosion. Depending on the brand, you may find break away lanyards or built-in lanyards.
Certain styles also feature an integrated hydration and cool pouch for your long climbs. You can also incorporate a harness hydration system during hot weather that holds up to 50 ounces of fluid.
If you work in high elevations with wind turbines, you can find a tower harness style with features to make the job comfortable while protecting you from falls, such as one dorsal and one sternal D-ring for fall arrest and one ventral D-ring at waist level in front for rope access.
Additional features you may want to consider include a lineman belt or a suspension seat. A lineman belt typically comes in several sizes to accommodate a wide range of shapes. A suspension seat has a wide sturdy seat with padding and breathable mesh for added comfort whether you are working two hours a day or twelve hours.
Tower climbing harnesses are available to protect you from falls and other accidents while you climb towers and work on poles. Choose an OSHA and ANSI compliant harness to work with your fall protection system and avoid OSHA penalties.