Harness hang syndrome also known as suspension trauma occurs after a worker has fallen and is suspended in a hanging position. While hanging in a fall arrest harness, the leg straps support the body’s weight causing reduced blood circulation to the femoral arteries in the legs. During this time blood starts to pool in the legs and the brain does not receive adequate oxygen causing the person to pass out. Harness hang syndrome can occur in as little as 15 minutes and can be life threatening. Even after being rescued the sudden rush of blood from the legs to the heart can be dangerous. For this reason it is important to have a rescue plan in place to get the fallen worker down quickly. Trauma straps are a safety feature available on some safety harnesses that support the legs and help to maintain circulation while waiting for a rescue.
Safety harnesses should be checked before each use and assessed by a professional annually or after a fall has taken place.
These five checks should be performed before each use:
A safety harness only works if it is worn and adjusted correctly. If it is not, serious injury can occur to the part of the body that takes the full force of the fall. The harness consists of a waist belt that attaches to a shoulder strap and a crotch strap that connects to a leg loop. The waist belt and shoulder strap form an X across the back that serves as a connection point to the anchor.
When putting on a safety harness all straps should be free of tangles and buckles should lock together with an audible click. The straps should be adjusted to fit snugly across the shoulders and chest allowing a good range of movement, but not so much that the arms are able to escape from the straps. The straps across the hips should fit more tightly to minimise movement while moving around the job site. All straps should feel snug, but not restrictive. An individual wearing a safety harness should still be able to bend over and touch their toes, put both hands over their head and feel comfortable wearing the harness all day.
Safety harnesses are not one size fits all and there are important considerations to make when buying a safety harness. Here are some features to look out for:
Safety harnesses range in price from $100 - $1,000. There are many factors that influence the overall price of the harness. These include harness specific specifications such as the amount of padding, weight limit, the number of connection points, level of adjustability and compatibility with tool belts. Other factors affecting price include build quality and brand.
Safety harnesses serve many functions across a broad range of industries. Most notably they keep the body upright in a suspended position in the case of a fall. Other applications include holding individuals in a work position and allowing full use of both hands. Safety harnesses provide crucial points of contact in the case of ladder climbing and moving between scaffolding. They also allow workers to be raised or lowered into confined spaces and to self belay down a work site in the case of window washers.
Most popular Safety Harness suppliers and brands on IndustrySearch are R.J. Cox Engineering, Sayka, MHA Products, MSA Australia.