Employees working at 4 feet or higher in general industry—and 6 feet or higher in construction—are at risk of serious injury or even death if they fall, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. To protect them, employers must provide the correct protection. Here’s what you need to know about using safety harnesses and lanyards correctly. 

Working at height is an unavoidable part of some jobs. And even though there are rules and safety regulations to prevent falls, every employer should make sure their employees are using their personal protective equipment (PPE) properly. After all, just one misstep could cost an employee who is not properly protected or trained his or her life.

It’s little wonder, then, that fall protection—in construction, from ladders or from scaffolding, or missed fall protection training requirements—feature prominently in the top 10 list of safety violations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA publishes the list to prompt employers to take steps to fix these commonly cited issues.

“Those who have never worn or used a full-body harness before—or have not received training in how to use one correctly—are at risk, given that improper use can lead to a serious injury.”

While workplace falls are all too common, they’re also preventable. The national tally of nonfatal emergency room visits is dominated by fall-related injuries, representing 32 percent of all preventable nonfatal injuries in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts website

Read more: Safety Tips for CNC Machinists: 5 Must-Know Rules for the Workplace

Adequate training and taking sufficient measures to prevent falls are key.

“Passive” approaches to fall protection do not require participation from the worker (guardrail systems, safety nets and edge protection). An “active” fall protection system, such as a personal fall arrest system (PFAS), is a system that is said to be “tied-off,” in that it includes a full-body harness and a shock-absorbing lanyard or lifeline secured to an anchor point.

All workers should receive training by a competent person on how to correctly use a PFAS, as well as the fall hazards they will face. Those who have never worn or used a full-body harness before—or have not received training in how to use one correctly—are at risk, given that improper use can lead to a serious­­ injury.

To avoid fall accidents, follow these six steps to properly fit your full-body harness:

Safety Harness Instructions – Fall Protection
Safety Harness Instructions – Fall Protection

In addition to understanding how to use a safety harness, workers who are using a PFAS should understand the following:

Using a Safety Lanyard

A safety lanyard is a worker’s link to a fall protection anchor point. This short length of webbing or cable typically attaches to the D-ring of a worker’s safety harness and can have a shock-absorbing feature, or simply is attached as a lifeline. 

When selecting a lanyard it’s important to know your fall clearance distance, or the distance required to prevent someone who falls from coming into contact with the nearest obstruction below the work surface. 

To calculate your fall distance from a rigid anchor point add your deceleration distance, the height of the suspended worker and the clearance distance to any obstruction during full arrest. Learn how to calculate fall distance here!

Read more: Working in Confined Spaces: 5 Vital Safety Procedures for Your Employees

OSHA Fall Protection: Using an Anchor Point

According to OSHA, “anchorages used for attachment of personal fall arrest equipment shall be independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms.” Those anchorages should also be capable of “supporting at least 5,000 pounds” per employee attached. 

Unless you use an engineered anchor point, such as a device manufactured for fall protection, the selection of an anchor point should be done “under the direction and supervision of a qualified person,” OSHA says.

Slip, trip and fall prevention: Watch this video to be in the know about the safety risks your workplace can face:

Tips to Amplify Your Fall Protection Plan

Here’s a collection of our best articles on fall prevention and safety:

Ladder Safety Tips: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Workers

How to Choose the Right PPE: Fall Protection Harness

5 Things About Fall Protection You Need to Think About

5 Quick Tips for Passive Fall Protection

Fall Protection Spotlight: Safety Railings and OSHA Guardrail Requirements


How are you making sure employees take fall protection seriously? What approaches have you found most successful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Hi Roland,

First of all, thank you for sharing these amazing steps for full body safety harness, i personally was going to put together an article on this for our website, I was researching about it and look, here I am. :)

And I must say, the things you've put amongst all via this article are way more than of I was going to try, like the infographic that you have used in it.. it is way beyond what i was trying to do.

Definitely my colleagues as well as others will reach out to this article. 


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