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5 Features to Look for When Shopping for a Safety Harness

  • Safety Resources

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Today's fall protection manufacturers offer safety harnesses, especially full body types, with features that increase the wearer's comfort. Modern harnesses are lighter, have more cushioning, and better distribute weight in tandem with other fall protection gear, such as self-retracting lifelines (SRLs).

More importantly, these products improve comfort while maintaining safety for their workers. With so many options on the market, finding a full body safety harness that keeps users safe while encouraging consistent use may seem daunting. 

Here are five things to keep an eye out for when searching for the best safety harness for your team.

1) Optimal Attachment Location

SRL-Category-home-page copyPersonal self-retracting lifelines (SRL-Ps), attached to the back of the harness, are lighter and more compact devices compared to SRLs that attach to an anchor. Users can select a single- or twin-leg SRL-P for their safety harnesses for a more extensive range of movement and increased usability.

As you search for fall protection harnesses, you may see products with different attachment points for an SRL-P. For your team's safety, you should only attach the SRL-P to the dorsal D-ring for fall arrest.

The dorsal D-ring SRL-P attachments on many full-body safety harnesses present several safety risks.

For instance, on some harnesses, the SRL-P attachment point has four to six inches of webbing that hangs below the dorsal D-ring, which adds to your freefall distance and is a factor that is often overlooked during fall distance calculations.

This design makes the SRL-P hang lower. Like a heavy backpack with loose straps, the weight will pull more heavily on your back and shoulders. The additional strain increases worker fatigue, pain, and the risk of injury. It also pulls the dorsal D-ring down faster, putting users at greater risk of fall injuries.

If you've ever bent down while using one of these harnesses with an SRL-P, you've likely experienced another safety issue. As soon as you lean over, the device swings down and can hit you in the back of the head. It's distracting, annoying, and often painful. If it knocks your helmet off, it can also be dangerous.Harness-SRL-Tunnel

Luckily, the latest generation of full body harnesses like the FT-Iron™ have an SRL-P tunnel situated directly under the dorsal D-ring. This serves as the SRL-P attachment point on the D-ring plate, facilitating ease of movement and preventing fatigue by keeping the device high on a worker's back and close to his or her body.

2) Leg Straps

Traditional safety harness loops into a pair of leg straps at the bottom. These straps are designed to sit up against the groin and under the buttocks. Since the harness essentially has one strap that runs from the shoulders to the legs, it can sometimes restrict your movements to the point where people often unbuckle the leg straps throughout the day to work with greater comfort, which causes a highly unsafe condition. Some people may remember to re-buckle them before working at height. Many others, at their great risk, don't.

Recent innovations like FallTech's horizontal Comfort Legs™ no longer require workers to loosen or remove leg straps to find comfort. This design features separate straps go around each leg laterally, giving users a full range of motion and maneuverability. They sit across and around the thigh, rather than against the groin, for additional comfort.

This design allows more blood circulation after a fall, as well. The sub-pelvic strap supports user weight, while enabling leg movement while awaiting rescue. 

You can find Comfort Legs standard on the following FallTech harnesses:

When your workers don't need to unbuckle their leg straps to feel comfortable, that's one less safety risk to worry about. Your team will be more comfortable and safer with fall protection equipment made precisely for their needs.

3) Adjustability

ft-one-fit-harness-blogFinding the proper harness for every body type can be difficult. Women, in particular, often have to size up to a larger harness to find the right fit for their hips. They then have to try to adjust the torso webbing to position the harness safely, even though it's a size too large.

Thankfully, you can find numerous body harnesses with extensive adjustability and personalization options for men and women of all sizes and shapes.

The FT-One™ Fit body harness for women is made specifically for workers whose hips and chests may not comfortably fit traditionally sized-full-body harnesses. Equipped with patent-pending hip adjustability, this harness allows workers to adjust the straps to their exact shape. They can find the specific safety harness they need without sizing it up or down to fit their hips, bust, or shoulders.

4) Shoulder Padding

Abrasion-Shoulder-panel-pad-FT-one-copy-2-1Some industries, such as construction, require workers to carry heavy tools attached to their harnesses. This weight can pull on shoulder straps and wear on the upper back. Users may be tempted to loosen or shift the harness to relieve the discomfort, putting their lives at risk. 

Adding extra padding to the shoulder straps can mitigate this problem. Options such as our Shoulder Yoke Pad distribute the weight more evenly and add a buffer between the straps. Most shoulder pads attach to a majority of harnesses, allowing you to offer additional comfort when needed. 

Look for products that are made from breathable materials to ensure they maintain airflow. If the padding makes users hot and uncomfortable, they may not use them consistently or correctly. 

You can consider getting padding that uses gel instead of foam as well. Foam padding will compress and break down over time. Gel, however, retains its shape and disperses weight more effectively. 

5) Waist Belt and Padding

Heavy-Duty-Belt-Bags-System-copy-1You can find both belted and non-belted body harnesses for fall protection. Waist belts are more common in industries where workers carry tools, though they’re also used to provide additional attachments and lumbar support. 

First, make sure the harness you choose meets the application it will be used for. You may need products with heavy-duty belts that can support heavy tool loads or work-positioning applications. If the belt is too flimsy, it may develop hot spots that cause discomfort and distractions. 

Next, consider the fit. These belts should sit closely and comfortably on the wearer’s waist. If it slips or digs in, try a harness with a different style of belt. 

You will also need to consider how much padding you need. A worker who carries several heavy tools or requires more lumbar support might do better with thicker and/or wider padding. Others might prefer an option that uses less padding, especially in hot outdoor environments. 

Like shoulder pads, these products should encourage airflow to prevent overheating. Try to find options made from breathable materials.

Don't compromise safety: Find the best full body harness for you and your team. FallTech full body harnesses are designed by specialists to the highest standard and made proudly in the USA. For help choosing the right full body harnesses for your team, reach out to FallTech's fall protection experts at 800-719-4619 or use the "Contact Us" form on the right.


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