We are going to take a time out from traditional rappelling and talk about something else for a minute – rappelling as a career! Careers in rappelling are very specialized and can be highly lucrative. You can rappel and get paid for it for everything from window washing to geology. For any of these types of jobs, you will need a very sturdy construction harness that you can haul tools and equipment with, and you will probably be hanging in that harness for a while, so you’ll want it to be comfortable.
Not only are these great for career rappelling, but for all construction jobs where you will work above ground. OSHA reports that the leading cause of death in construction is falls. Always wear your harness!! If your employer doesn’t have a harness and you are uncomfortable in your elevated work environment, ask for one!
I have a couple of favorites to share with you. The first is the top of the line. 3M DBI-SALA ExoFit (available on Amazon). I would recommend this harness if you are going to be using it for long hours
The straps are easy to adjust for all body types, and has click and roll technology to minimize any lose straps. One cool feature is the relief straps. Should you fall, you will be able to release webbing from a pouch on the legs, and you can stand on the webbing to release pressure from your upper legs, where the harness wraps around your thighs, while you wait to be rescued. It has all the gizmos and gadgets you can think of, but most of all, its sturdy. Its a great investment if you’re going to be out working all day in a harness. I could go on all day about this. I am so impressed with the whole design of this harness. Go check out the pictures and video on Amazon and you will be too!
Guardian Fall Protection
Now for a more affordable construction harness option. The Guardian Fall Protection 11171 XL-XXL Seraph Harness with Side D-Rings (check it out on Amazon). This is a great harness as well, but lacks some of the features that I love about the 3M ExoFit. For example, the relief straps. But for a harness, it’s not necessary. This harness is just as comfortable, and most importantly, will keep you safe and feeling secure while you work. This construction harness has six points of adjustment and stretchability in the shoulder straps. It also has shoulder pads and a padded waist for comfort, a cradle seat (The only thing I wish the 3M Exofit harness had), and D-ring lanyard keepers which can double as retrieval hoists), and loops for those tools we talked about.
This particular model does have some size restrictions. If you are over 6’3 and 250 pounds, they recommend getting a bigger harness, however, I have heard many people say this fits the big and tall men as well. Something that I love about this harness is that it does not restrict any range of motion, which is so important when you’re out there trying to get a job done. If you have a cheap harness, I highly recommend you upgrade! There is a ton of bang for your buck with this product and can not find one thing wrong with it. You’ll feel comfortable and secure.
Those are my recommendations. If you’re ready for an investment, and you know you’ll be using your construction harness for quite a while, go with the 3M ExoFit construction harness. If are using your harness on an as needed basis, you will get HUGE bang for your buck, the Guardian Fall Protection construction harness is for you. It has all the protection and everything you need to get your job done safely.
One last thing you’ll need! Don’t forget those shock lanyards. There is no point in having a harness
Always check your harness for wear and tear before putting it on. You may have put it on the day before and it looked great and worked great, but its important to do these checks every time. You may have missed something or rubbed up against rock or equipment on the work sight and hit a snag. Don’t rush this step, even if you are in a hurry. Your safety is so important! If you see any fraying strings or on your harness, its time to retire it and get new one. Speaking of retiring your construction harness, the rule of thumb is to retire your construction harness after 5 years of moderate use. Construction harnesses that are heavily used will need to be retired sooner. Also, retire your harness if you have fallen in it. The integrity of the harness will have been compromised and you won’t want to put your harness under that pressure again. Best to let it go.
How to Put on a Construction Harness
These things look a little confusing to put on. You have leg straps and all sorts of clips and what not everywhere. The first time I looked at one, I thought what in the world am I doing here and am I going to be able to get it off once I get it on? Let me assure you, these things come on and off pretty easily. We will go over inspecting the harness as well.
Before you put on the harness, pick it up by the D-ring, and give it a little shake. All the pieces of the harness should fall into place. Run your hands over ALL the straps, webbing, buckles. Look for any cracked, frayed or worn webbing or stitching. Make sure the grommets are firmly attached.
After the harness has passed your very careful and thorough safety inspection, Slip the harness over your shoulders like a vest. Be sure the D-ring is placed directly in between your shoulder blades. Attach the leg harnesses around your thighs so they are nice and snug. Stand up straight and adjust the straps on the chest. The straps should fit nice and snug with no slack. Buckle the chest strap. It should fit across the middle of your chest. Adjust the chest straps so it fits snug. Make sure the shoulder and leg straps are snug but still allow for full range of motion. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit your hands, laid flat, underneath the leg straps, with out too much more slack. Do one last final check to make sure there are no loose straps and all loose straps have been tucked in appropriately. I can not stress this enough. You want this fitting properly so that the energy of a fall will be evenly absorbed by your body and not just in one area. A properly adjusted harness could be the difference in a huge injury or just a little soreness after the fall. In 2016, OSHA reported that 384 out of 991 deaths in construction where due to FALLS! That number is far too high and more deaths can be prevented. Do not take any short cuts and follow all safety procedures.
When you are looking for a construction harness find one that is comfortable and will be able to safely carry all of your tools and equipment to get your job. Be sure the harness is approved by OSHA and follow all safety procedures at the work site. Never compromise your safety and take your time to do your safety checks and properly put on your safety harness. If you fall, you will be grateful you took the time to do this. If you are looking for the bells and whistles from top to bottom, check out the 3M ExoFit harness. You will not be disappointed. If you are looking for more of an occasional use harness, that is well made, and comfortable, I’d suggest the Guardian Fall protection.
Remember those shock lanyards and never forget to latch in!