Safety harness

A safety harness is a body support device used in a fall arrest system. It consists of straps, fittings, buckles and other individual components. A safety harness is designed to suspend an individual whose fall has been successfully arrested. Safety harnesses are manufactured according to the requirements set down in EN 361 and tested according to EN 364.

Special requirements that apply to safety harnesses

All safety harnesses must be equipped with adjustable chest, shoulder and leg straps. Two other factors that a safety harness has to fulfil are 1) that the wearer is safely caught up and suspended following a fall and 2) that it is easy to check that the harness is functioning safely.

For example, the fact that all the supporting straps of the safety harness must be at least 40 mm wide ensures that the first requirement is met. A further requirement is that the attachment eyelet of the safety harness must be located directly over the wearer’s centre of gravity so that his/her body is held in an upright position after a fall.

EN 361 permits safety harnesses to be integrated into items of clothing. These items of clothing may also be part of a PPE kit, such as a high visibility vest, for example. However, it must still be possible to inspect the safety harness. Another feature that makes it easier to inspect a safety harness is that all the seams need to be of a different colour or shade to the straps. As a result, all the seams are clearly visible.

Attachment eyelets - specially labelled

All the eyelets that may be used to connect the harness to a lanyard, for example, are marked with the letter A. Particularly in the case of attachment eyelets located at the chest, it is common for these to consist of two loops. These are each marked A/2 and may only be used together. Any other eyelet to be found on the safety harness which is not accordingly marked, is not designed to serve as an attachment eyelet. A good example of this are the eyelets attached to the sides of the harness. These are used to adjust one’s work position.

What do I need to watch out for when choosing a safety harness?

When choosing a safety harness, make sure that it can be easily adjusted for a perfect fit. It is absolutely vital that your harness is equipped with appropriate means of adjusting it. Only if your harness fits correctly can it serve its purpose. For this reason, all workers who have to regularly wear a safety harness for their work must be provided with their own safety harness free of charge. This must fit properly and only be used by the intended wearer. As with any PPE equipment, the costs are to be borne by the entrepreneur.

Safety harnesses are tested according to EN 364 using a body weight of 100 kg (including clothing and any equipment that needs to be carried). However, safety harnesses are often tested using much higher weights - going well beyond the requirements of EN 364. In such cases, you then have to make sure that all the other components of your arresting system are also designed to cope with these higher weights.