A fall protection harness is a device a person wears when working at a high elevation, such as on a building structure or bridge, to help prevent falls. The harness is worn around the body and secured to a rope or other type of strap, and the rope or strap is connected to a solid object to support the person should he or she fall. A fall protection harness can also be used for recreational purposes, primarily during rock climbing or high ropes sports, though the design of such harnesses is much different.
For work purposes, a fall protection harness may be a full body unit or a hip and seat unit. The full body unit will loop around various parts of the body, including the shoulders, chest, hips, and legs. A hip and seat harness may only loop around the legs and hips. Any construction project that requires workers to do work at a high elevation should outfit workers with fall protection harness options.
The harness itself is made from material called webbing, which is wide fabric stitched together and load tested to ensure it can support the weight of the person during a fall. The webbing is often connected to support devices such as carabiners or other hardware. This allows the person wearing the fall protection harness to connect the harness to other objects with other carabiners or hooks. Very often, a worker will attach a piece of webbing with hooks or carabiners on either end to the harness so he or she can connect the other end to a stationary object such as a crane or lift frame, or even parts of the structure being constructed. The user can clip and unclip the carabiner or hook easily from one stationary object to another to make movement throughout the structure much easier.
A person wearing a fall protection harness must first be educated on how to properly wear the harness and how to operate all equipment used in conjunction with the harness. The harness itself must be worn a certain way, and the straps must be secured properly to ensure the harness does not accidentally open in the event of a fall. Self-arrest techniques may be taught to ensure the person knows how to stop himself from falling even if he is working on his own, and he or she may also need to be taught what to do should someone else fall nearby.