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Anti-Fall Safety Harnesses Can Save Your Life

Photo courtesy of the US Dept of Labor (via Wikimedia Commons)

In a lot of workplaces, there's often a lot of grumbling and complaining when it comes time to put on anti-fall safety harnesses. Climbing into a harness before stepping onto a forklift lift platform, a scissor lift, or another type of lifting device can often seem like overkill to some workers.

After all, people have been safely working at heights for generations without having to wear these cumbersome devices. So why are they suddenly standard equipment?

The fact is that using these types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can help reduce your business's liability should an accident occur. But more importantly, they could save your employees' lives.

Body Harnesses Absorb Force of Falling

Prior to the 1990s, if employees working at heights wore any type of anti-fall equipment, it most likely was a body belt. But these devices, which fit around the worker's waist, focused the force of a fall on the belt line, often resulting in serious injury even if a fall impact didn't occur.

Modern personal fall arrest systems are comprised of a full-body harness that distributes the force of a fall to a variety of areas. Using a combination of straps and buckles, the body weight is distributed to the larger muscle masses of the body, including the upper thighs, the chest, and the shoulders, as well as to the bony mass of the pelvis.

As a result, the force of a fall is diverted from the more vulnerable body parts, especially the stomach, neck, and groin.

Keep Your Head Up

Industrial anti-fall harnesses are designed to absorb the force of a fall safely but they also will keep your body upright during a fall, which is important for keeping your spine vertical. This prevents the compressive forces of a fall from being transferred to your back, which could result in a serious injury.

Upright is also the optimal condition for rescuing or lowering a worker after a fall. Unlike harnesses made for mountain climbers, industrial anti-fall devices aren't designed for prolonged suspension.

In fact, the sooner you can get a worker to a place of safety, the less likely that blood can pool in the legs. When emergency workers retrieve someone whose fall was inhibited by a safety harness, they usually will lay them flat for exactly this reason. Blood that pools in the legs can rush to the heart, potentially causing cardiac arrest.

So while some workers may gripe about having to put on an anti-fall safety harness, those same employees will be thanking you if the device ends up saving their lives.