A safety harness is typically a piece of protective gear designed to protect an individual, animal, or even piece of furniture from harm or injury. The harness is usually made of nylon or leather and is attached by locking hook and fastening hardware. The harness has been used as a safety garment since the early 20th century.
Some of the most common types of safety harnesses are those worn by truck drivers, construction workers, zoo or animal care workers, machine operators, motorized wheelchairs users, airplane pilots, and football (soccer) players. Workers in these professions can be exposed to hazards on a regular basis. These workers may be working with potentially dangerous materials like corrosives, flammables, gasoline, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals. Certain occupations require the use of harnesses to ensure the safety of the workers as well as the safety of the public. An example of a profession that requires the use of safety harnesses is the airline pilot.
A serious fall could have serious consequences. If a worker is not wearing a safety harness, a serious fall could occur from between two working surfaces, resulting in serious head, arm, and spine injuries. When a worker experiences a fall, they must remain in the same position for several minutes while receiving emergency assistance. Rescue attempts often include the use of stretchers and crutches. If the fall was of a minor nature, the hospital stay for a worker would most likely be for a day or two, and their return to normal work routine would likely be delayed several weeks.
Workers who are involved in any type of transportation involving a vehicle or any other moving object are at increased risk for encountering the disabling condition of fall arrest. It is important for truck drivers and other drivers of commercial vehicles to wear a safety harness when driving. For airline flight attendants, harnesses are also an important part of their protection equipment. Both of these professions are constantly exposed to the risk of serious suspension trauma, which is the temporary condition wherein the lower limbs are accidentally trapped between the rotating wheels of the vehicle, or any other incident where the worker's body is suspended by the harness itself during the actual flight.
One of the most serious conditions for those workers who do not wear safety harnesses is the condition known as hanging death. This condition occurs when the dangling body part of the worker is dislodged during the actual suspension. This can happen during a heavy load, or when a worker is using improper positioning. Although this type of tragic event rarely occurs, it is important for all employers to insure their workers are wearing safety harnesses during all types of work.
Employers must take the time to ensure their workers are wearing safety harnesses. OSHA has specific regulations regarding workers who are required to wear the harness. Every employer is legally obligated to inform their employees of the importance of the safety harness and the proper procedure in its use. OSHA strongly encourages employers to instruct their employees to always wear the harness and provide training on its proper use.
Another valuable tool that employers must provide to their workers is fall protection equipment. Fall protection equipment is designed to keep the body of the worker from being fatally injured in case they encounter an unexpected or uncontrollable slide or fall. This can happen while working at heights, or while operating dangerous tools. An example of fall protection equipment would be an approved safety harness or fall arrest system.
If you are a business owner, it is essential that you invest in your business by providing your employees with the best workplace safety equipment available. OSHA does not recommend the use of personal protective equipment or products, such as the pPE, in an environment that could result in worker injury. However, many business owners continue to purchase these items because they feel that they are necessary to provide their workers with adequate fall protection. You may want to think again. There is no need for you to provide this type of safety equipment if you have not followed proper OSHA guidelines.