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17 Feb 2022

Working at heights can have dramatic consequences and requires special skills, particularly in terms of safety and standards. In companies, many professionals are daily exposed to a major risk: falling from a height. Today, the market is full of many models of fall protection harnesses. From the standard harness to the more complete model, which one should you choose for the best protection?

 

 

Fall protection

As soon as a worker is exposed to the risk of falling, the employer is obliged to identify the risks in order to define preventive measures to protect the employee. In France, individual protection complements collective protection. Both types of protection are essential and complementary to ensure a safe working environment. By “collective protection” we mean all the fixed installations: floor markings, non-slip floor coverings, the installation of guard rails, etc. In addition to these devices, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used to ensure the safety of the employee by eliminating or reducing the risks at source. In the event of a risk of falling, fall protection becomes essential and must be put in place whatever the activity. Fall protection is becoming the essential PPE for professionals and companies working at height (scaffolding, roofs, work platforms, ladders, etc.).
The 3 essential components of fall protection: the fall arrest harness, the anchor point, the connection system.

 

The safety harness

VIT'O safety harness

 

 

The fall arrest harness must be worn during any work at height. Compliant with the NF EN 361 standard, it can be adjusted to each operator thanks to its adjustable straps and buckles. There exist many types of harnesses, each for a different use.

 

The anchor points

Safety tripod

 

The anchor point can be fixed (type A) or mobile (type B, e.g. a tripod). For greater safety, it is recommended that the anchor point is located above the user to reduce the fall and pendulum effect. It must be able to stop and restrain the operator in the event of a fall from height.

 

 

The connecting fall arrest system

Longe

 

 

A connection and/or energy absorption system connects the harness to the anchor point. Connecting and energy absorption systems come in different forms: lanyard, retractable fall arresters, etc…

 

3 recommendations for choosing the right fall arrester

The fall factor

The fall factor

 

 

When the anchor point is located at or above the harness attachment point, the operator is safe. However, if an energy absorber is not used when the fall factor is equal to 1, the impact can be violent and range from 900 to 200 daN. When the fall factor is equal to 2, the anchor point is located at or below the operator’s feet.

 

 

 

The minimum clearance

The minimum clearance

 

 

This is the 6.5 meter minimum required vertical freefall distance without obstacles. This height is calculated as follows: A+B+C+D

A = Overall length of the fall arrest device used

B = Stopping distance according to the fall arrest device used

C = Height from the fall arrest attachment point of the harness to the user’s feet

D = 1 m safety margin required by the standard

 

 

 

 

The pendulum effect

The pendulum effect

 

 

A pendulum fall occurs when the user is close to a fall risk zone without being secured vertically to the anchor point.

The risk of injury increases due to the user’s uncontrolled swinging after the fall.

 

 

 

Fall arrest harnesses

The “economical” fall arrest harness NUSL1ECO and NUSL2ECO

Fall arrest harness NUSL1ECO and NUSL2ECO

 

 

The NUSL ECO harnesses are “entry level” fall arrest harnesses for occasional use or very dirty work. The NUSL1 ECO harness only has a back attachment point on a “D” suitable for work on scaffolding or platforms. The NUSL2 ECO also has a sternal attachment point on webbing loops to be connected.

Suitable for the following industries: aerial work platforms, roofing, steel construction, building
Complies with the standard: EN 361

 

The Pack & Go fall arrest harness

The Pack & Go fall arrest harness

 

The Pack & GO is a fall arrest harness with an integrated carry bag. It is comfortable to wear and its integrated storage bag makes it particularly practical. It has 2 attachment points: 1 sternal point on a textile buckle and 1 dorsal point on a metal “D”. It complies with the EN361 standard (personal protective equipment against falls from a height).
Suitable for the following industries: building, steel construction, scaffolding, aerial work platforms, roofing
Complies with the standard: EN 361

 

The versatile NUS65A fall arrest harness

The versatile NUS65A fall arrest harness

 

The NUS65A is a versatile fall arrest harness that combines performance, comfort and lightness. Equipped with automatic buckles and padded leg straps, it adapts easily to all body types thanks to its high-performance adjustment and locking systems. It is a 2-point harness: 1 sternal point on textile buckles and 1 dorsal point on metal “D”.
Suitable for the following industries: industry, construction, steel construction, scaffolding, aerial work platforms, roofing
Complies with the standard:
EN 361, EN 1497

 

The VIT’O fall arrest harness

The VIT’O fall arrest harness

 

The VIT’O fall arrest harness combines performance, comfort and lightness. It adapts easily to all body shapes thanks to its high-performance adjustment and locking systems. The shoulder straps can be adjusted from above and the leg straps and Bavarian belt can be closed with automatic aluminum buckles.
Suitable for the following industries: steel construction, building, roofing, aerial work platforms, events
Complies with the standard: EN 361, EN 1497

 

VIT’O TEC fall arrest harness

VIT’O TEC fall arrest harness

 

The VIT’O TEC is a fall arrest and rescue harness for use in confined spaces. It has a dorsal attachment point on an extension strap and a sternum attachment point with two textile buckles for fall arrest and rescue. It also incorporates a specific ergonomic belt for wearing the self-rescue mask.
Suitable for the following industries: sanitation
Complies with the standard: EN 361, EN 1497

 

Anchor points

There are different anchor points, each with its own type of use. However, all anchors must provide a safe fall arrest system and are required to comply with the EN 795 standard.

 

Existing anchor points

The first step is to ensure that the structure is strong enough to support the weight of the user in the event of a fall. Namely, the structure must resist 12 kN (i.e. 1.2 tons) and the human can withstand a maximum impact and/or energy of more than 600 daN. The choice of anchorage point can be: lifelines, strap rings, false forks, etc.
The choice of the position of the anchor point is also important because it defines the fall risk factor for the user.

 

The safety tripod

The safety tripodTo make your choice easier, we recommend PPE that complies with the 2016/95 Directive and the EN 795 B standard.

The safety tripod must also be made of reinforced aluminum legs as well as a telescopic structure to allow the operator to adjust the length of the unit.

Very often the tripod is accompanied by a self-retracting fall arrester with rescue winch, a lifting winch (optional), cable return pulleys under the head of the tripod and a carrying bag.

 

The connecting fall arrest systems

Lanyards

The lanyard with energy absorber

The lanyard (EN 354) with energy absorber (EN 355) is a connection system consisting of a lanyard of up to 2m and two connectors. Due to their elasticity, elastic lanyards offer extra comfort. For example, a strap lanyard will be 40% shorter in the retracted position than a standard strap lanyard. The system ensures that the operator’s movements are safe and limited  around the anchorage point.

 

Retractable fall arresters

Retractable fall arresters

Fall arresters are available in straps or cable in different lengths. On the one hand, the strap fall arrester is specifically designed for work at height (AWP, scaffolding, roof, etc.) with a short connection length (from 2 to 5 meters). It is very light and equipped with an automatically retractable high density polyethylene lanyard. On the other hand, the cable fall arrester is heavier and more bulkier than the webbing reel. It is equipped with a very strong steel cable and is more specifically designed for difficult or severe areas such as manholes (risk of cutting) or confined spaces.

 

Fall arrest equipment standards

Fall arrest equipment standards

                   
  • NF EN 354 : Lanyards (max. length : 2 m)
  • NF EN 355 : Energy absorbers
  • NF EN 358 : Work positioning systems               
  • NF EN 360 : Automatic fall arrest system               
  • NF EN 361, NF EN 358, NF EN 813, NF EN 1497 : Full fall arrest harnesses              
  • NF EN 362 : Connectors               
  • NF EN 795 : Anchor points (type B)

 

 

Good to know:

  • the manufacturer’s instructions are compulsory and must be written in French
  • the regulatory “CE” mark must be affixed to each product
  • the instructions must contain a reference to Regulation (EU) 2016/425
  • harnesses must be inspected every 12 months
                                                                  

Protecting yourself is essential!

When you know that 10% of accidents at work in France are due to falls from height, protection becomes and must be a priority. Don’t neglect other PPE, such as safety shoes, helmets and protective gloves. They can protect you at all times. Safety is priceless and should not be taken lightly.
No pun intended, but don’t fall off the wagon and opt for the equipment that best suits your needs!

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