For professional linemen and construction workers, their fall protection equipment is essential to an efficient, and safe, day at work. From their harnesses and rope connectors to their hazard vests and protection goggles, every piece of equipment is a vital tool to help them in unpredictable job conditions. While the proper equipment is an important first step in the fall protection process, these tools are only effective if you know how to use them correctly.
As workers make their way to the jobsite, it’s crucial they take the time to properly connect themselves to their safety line for optimal protection. Each full body harness has six different connection points to use at separate stages throughout a job. Each point is carefully positioned to provide the best support possible when moving during the corresponding stage. Before you suit up and begin to climb, study up on the different types of harness connection points.
One of the most important connection points, this first point is used to catch you in the event of a workplace fall. Once a climber arrives to the site of their work, they should adjust their rope grab fall protection connections to the D-ring positioned in between their shoulder blades. This connection is particularly good for fall protection, as the D-ring will evenly distribute your weight and the force of the fall. This will absorb most of the shock and prevent injury.
Additionally, lineman can attach other pieces of equipment to the D-ring to further help absorb stress from an accident. Tools such as shock-absorbing, or self-retracting, lanyards can make it easier for you to recover after a fall, and they can even help you get your footing back. Keep in mind that the tools you’re authorized to use during a climb can vary depending on location and the tasks you will perform. For this reason, it’s crucial that you check with your direct manager before you hook yourself up.
Like the fall arrest point, you’ll use this connection point while you work, as it will keep you stable and unrestricted. To transfer to this setup, convert your connections to the pair of D-rings located on the lower waist area of the harness. While you won’t be completely free to walk around in this position, you will have full range of motion to work and reach everything you need to.
Since this setup is fixed to the spot that you’ll work on, it’s considered more of a fall restraint system than a fall arrest system. Fall restraint systems keep you locked in one location, so they’re used to prevent falls as opposed to saving you during a fall. Knowing the difference, and when you use them, is a great way to ensure your stability on the work surface.
Another of the different types of harness connection points deals with protecting you as you make your way around a cluttered worksite. These connections, in particular, are more often used when you work near hazards such as holes, clutter, and slippery conditions. However, using them during your general transitions between sites is a great way to ensure your overall safety.
When you connect yourself to your travel restraint, find the D-ring in the middle of your lower back. This ring should sit at about waist level to give you the best range of motion while it supports your center of gravity. Remember that when connected to these points, a worker is often also connected to an anchor point with specialized straps. This prevents them from walking too close to nearby hazards. This will also restrict some movement, but it will make it easier to stay within designated safe zones.
Descent and Ascent
Unfortunately, some job sites won’t have a designated ramp or ladder to assist the worker as they get to their post. It’s in situations like these where ascension and descension equipment lifts the worker into position. Descent and ascent connection points have two potential positions, and those depend on the type of harness you wear.
The first is characterized as a single D-ring located between your waist and chest. This set up offers protection from falling by supporting the center of your weight if you were to slip. The second option, a pair of rings at your waist, ensures that you remain balanced whether you go up or down. Additionally, you can connect other fall protection devices to these harnesses at the same time, which further reduces the risk of an incident.
Some of the common harness connection points require specialized harnesses to properly execute a climb or descent. These instances include evacuation harnesses. With two D-rings along the shoulders or chest, these harnesses properly remove an individual from a hazardous situation after they’ve sustained an injury.
After you attach rope grabs to both rings, you can also equip a spreader bar to the harness. This can help redistribute the person’s weight as they’re carried down from the worksite. However, it’s important to remember that these harnesses aren’t typically as strong as standard work harnesses. You also generally won’t use them for very long, as they can eventually break under too much stress.
Ladder climbing connection points are another specialized case that require a specific harness to properly support an individual. While these systems more often involve a single D-ring at chest level, many models also include a second ring level with the first to provide additional support. These connections are then attached to the ladder itself to keep the worker from losing their grip and falling backwards.
Overall, these systems keep an individual as close to the ladder as possible to reduce the risk of slipping, but they’re also used to increase the success rate of fall arrest devices. Since the fall protection system keeps the worker close to the ladder, it will have more leverage to catch a worker if they fall.
At Midwest Unlimited, we know the connection points you use will entirely depend on what you do. It’s for this reason that we aim to supply you with the tools to tackle any of these situations in a safe manner.