Basics of Working at Heights Fall Arrest

DISCLAIMER: This is not meant to substitute our certified working at heights fall arresst training. What is discussed here is not meant to be taken as legal advice. The following is basic fundamental information that encourages you to expand upon all things involved in working at heights in Ontario safely. With our blog posts, you will be more prepared to take your training with us.

This harness looks to be in good shape, right?

When you're inspecting a harness, there's a lot of different things you really do have to check depending on the harness.

This harness does not have a guard over the steel bar of the D ring.

So, it's instantly wearing the inside of this harness when you start using it.

It requires an inspection to make sure there's no damage in there.

Because there can't be any:

1) Damage

2) Wear

3) Defect

Those three things are important to remember.

I'm also going to be checking for the FALL INDICATOR TABS.

Every harness has them.

If you're involved in a fall, these single stitches in the webbing will separate.

There's one missing on this side (as pictured above on the left).

So this has been involved in a fall.

Any harness involved in a fall, automatically has to be removed from service.

It only actually requires a few minutes of handling to check your harnesses:

1) Stitches

2) Buckles

3) Webbing for any frays or tears

4) ID tag

The ID tag (sometimes) has no expiry date, but it has the manufacturers date, CSA standard, serial number, and weight capacity.

It all has to be legible (and current).

If it's not legible, this harness would not pass inspection and it cannot be used for working at heights fall arrest.

If you have a harness, like this one (pictured above) that has padding, even if it's an after market padding, it also has to be checked to make sure there's nothing that can hurt you like a piece of steel that's grinding. If it's caught in this webbing, then that can rub on your skin and neck.

That's unacceptable as safe work practice for wearing a harness!

You also have to identify where the label is - sometimes it's really obvious and easy to find...

...Sometimes, not so much.

Depending on the company, you're going to have to really look.

SAFETY TIP: The weight is a combination of yourself plus your equipment you wear & hold.

Rope Grab Inspection

(Used with working at heights fall arrest systems, travel restraint systems, fall restricting systems)

Rope grab inspection again like everything else is fairly simple, you just have to get to the key points.

The stamped information has to be clearly visible.

If it's been rubbed out, it's not going to work because you could put it on upside down, and that makes it defunct.

Working at Heights fall arrest equipment: Rope grab

There's an up arrow, and it usually says up on the inside and the outside.

The CSA standard is stamped right on the outside.

It has to be current, has to be legible.

After that, the spring loaded part of the mechanism and the spring actually has to work.

The hinge part actually has to hinge and to be able to swing freely, thread in. The safety mechanism closes, and stays closed.

Pretty simple.

But, we'll go over it again (watch the below video for a visual).

In a real world application, with a vertical life line, the spring works, hinges over, threads in smooth, barely finger tight, safety mechanism closes, slides freely, moves up and down the rope, locks when I pull on it.

It passed.

It's functional, I can use it.

Brief Introduction to Anchors

Anchors are always going to fall into three categories:

1) Permanent

2) Temporary Fixed Support

3) Existing Structural Features or Equipment

Permanents are stainless steel or galvanized (steel).

Temporary reusables are something that you can attach, fasten, and then remove when you are done.

It can be a plate one that you screw in. It comes with instructions and their correct screws when you buy them.

It can also be a titanium cable one, where you drill a hole, let go of the docks, it gets plugged in. When you want to remove it, you just pull the docks back up, pull it back out and away you go.

This also too, will have instructions on use based on how thick the concrete is, is it rebar, which is freeform, different requirements for different concrete.

When it comes to using existing structure, you can use things like an I-beam clamp, the generic name for this is beam buddy.

You can also use loop straps/web slings.

I can loop this around the same piece of I-beam, and because it has the safety webbing on it, as long as this meets the basic requirements for the weight - I've got an anchor.

The basic requirements for the weight of an anchor is 3600 lbs.

Every anchor that you're going to use in working at heights has to meet the minimum requirement of approximately 3600 lbs, that's what we're asking for.

Any less than 3600 lbs is probably just not going to do the job.

And it can always be more...

I can tie into an I-beam that can carry 10,000 lbs with that strap/sling, it's a 5,000 lbs strap/sling. I instantly have a 5,000 lbs anchor. So, now I'm compliant with what the regulation is asking for.

It's only your imagination that will hold you back.

We have had times in the past where we have helped people out by just figuring out systems that will work.

Example: Creating an anchor point in a finished apartment to complete balcony vinyl coating

A balcony 50 ft in the air, has to be covered.

Do you guys know what Duradek© is?

Duradek© is a vinyl coating for decks.

So, you can't tie off around posts. The whole deck has to be clear. So, What are you going to tie off to? In a finished apartment that's getting Duradek, that's really, really hard. No one wants you to screw the floor.

There's no walls, no posts or anything (to anchor to).

But if I take a 20 ft. vertical life line, I put a strap around some laminated 2x10's or 6x6 posts out in a hallway. It's got to pull against the interior load barring wall, which is several thousand pounds.

Instantly now, I've got an anchor that will work.

It's always your imagination, right?

You just need the basic information of: 3600 lbs (the weight of a small car), and then secure it so that when you put your life line onto it and then your rope grab, then your shock absorbing lanyard, your body harness, it will all function for your fall arrest or travel restraint system.

Working at Heights Fall Arrest Extra Resources

safety harness checklist
Download PDF • 97KB

What does Ontario's Ministry of Labour do during a working at heights safety inspection? Click here to watch!

Ready to book Working at Heights training? We have them happening weekly. E-mail us here!

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