When selecting a fall protection harness consideration must be given to the harness material, d-ring locations, buckle styles, and working load limits. Basic harness materials include nylon (excellent strength and comfort), polyester (excellent chemical resistance) and Nomex®/Kevlar® (flame retardant and commonly used in arc flash and welding applications). Center back d-rings are found on every harness and they are the only connective point allowed for fall arrest scenarios. Side d-rings are for used positioning when workers need their hands free for certain work functions, chest d-rings are used for positioning work such as ladder and tower climbing applications, and shoulder d-rings are used for lowering workers into tight spaces or rescue applications. Harness buckles are offered in mating, tongue, friction and quick connect styles.
Once a harness is selected the other pieces of the system follow. Fall protection systems break down to three primary components, which are known as the ABC’s of fall protection. The “A” is the anchor or anchorage point - what you are attaching to that can withstand the impact of a fall. The “B” is the body harness. Lastly, the “C” is the connection device, the critical link which runs from your body harness to the anchor point and provides the deceleration in the event of a fall.
Working load limits may be key to the harness and fall protection system that is selected. ANSI/ISEA testing protocol has a 310-pound limit. OSHA permits capacities above 310 pounds and 400 – 420-pounds are typical. Fall protection equipment is a system and all components in the system must be rated to the same working load limit. If there is a need for a 420-pound rated harness, then the connector must also be rated for 420-pounds.