The Evolution of Safety Harnesses

Today, it’s common knowledge that construction workers and linemen need to properly protect themselves from the risk of falling while at work. However, this wasn’t always the case. Not too long ago, not much was known about fall protection or how to best keep these professionals safe. The evolution of the safety harness began with great dangers and, unfortunately, many casualties.

The Unregulated Age

Fall protection guidelines weren’t always as regulated as they are today. In fact, before the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted in 1971, businesses rarely looked out for their workers’ safety. In the years prior, for example, construction employees often worked on projects while walking along suspended iron beams. Though some protection devices did exist at the time, the workers believed them to be too restrictive and often didn’t use them.

The Development of Body Belts

After the development of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA, in 1970, companies were required to protect their workers from falls. Around this time, industries began looking for new ways to design safety equipment. Inspired by the straps and wires used by professional rock climbers, these companies worked toward developing the first body belt.

Consisting of a single belt worn around the midsection with two attachment rings on either side, these belts offered a bit more mobility than their predecessors. However, they still couldn’t reliably hold a person if he or she were to fall in certain ways, and OSHA would later rule them as unsafe.

The Modern-Day Harness

Through years of trial and error, developers eventually discovered a model that protected the worker without restricting their movement. This harness, known as a full-body harness, is built to evenly distribute an individual’s weight as they climb as well as support each limb with snug-fitting straps. According to modern regulations, workers must use these harnesses when the worker is climbing above a specified height to further reduce the risk of injury.

At Midwest Unlimited, we pride ourselves on offering premium safety equipment for any job. Using our climbing safety harnesses and quality connection ropes is a great first step to protecting yourself from a fall.