Choosing The Right Harness
Monday, 22 August 2016 | Martin
Confused by the shear volume of height safety and full body harnesses available to buy online? Need some simple and honest advice? Well look no further.
For most of us buying a harness is something you only do once, until the time comes to replace it due to end of life-cycle or accidental damage of course. So let's get it right first time and avoid expensive or uncomfortable mistakes!
Any harness that you plan to buy must, and most importantly, be certified and tested to the European Standard EN361. Although a harness may be tested to this standard it does not guarantee that the item was manufactured with the European Union, even if the manufacturer is based in Europe so it's important to understand the origin of the items.
Anchorage Points - You'll find that most harnesses have two basic options when it comes to connection/anchorage points and this, in my view, should be your first thing to consider. Harnesses will offer either a single point or two points. A single point harness will have an anchorage point only at the rear, between the shoulder blades, which will allow connection of a Lanyard or Fall Arrest Block/Personal Fall Limiter. Two point versions offer a front connection point as well which is commonly used for when climbing Ladders with a Fall Arrest System such as Söll GlideLoc. This front attachment point may also be used for Restraint Lanyards and Rope Grab type Fall Arrest Systems. If you know the applications your harness will be used in then this should be an easy choice although if you're not sure then consider choosing a harness that offers front and rear connection to cover yourself for all possible eventualities.
Work Positioning - If you are working on a ladder, telecoms pole or similar structure where you need to have your hands free for maintenance or installation work then a harness with a built in work positioning belt is essential to ensure your safety. This feature is covered under an additional European Standard, EN358. You'll find these harnesses have a belt built in to the webbing which is at waist height. They should have two metal D-Rings at each side, similar to a Rear Attachment point. Using a work positioning lanyard or 'pole strap' you can wrap the lanyard around the structure or ladder with the karabiner ends connected to each side of the belt thus giving you three points of contact whilst working. The belt also offers an additional element of comfort to the user.
Buckles - Again we find that there are two common types, Mating and Automatic. The Automatic options come in either Quick Connect or