WomenFall Protection

Even when workers are in the habit of wearing fall protection, not everyone on the job site plays it safe. Visitors—including architects, executives and consultants—may not be part of the construction crew, but they still need fall protection equipment if they’re at height. “They have to be harnessed as well. If the project has already begun, it’s an OSHA violation if they’re not,” says Tammy K. Clark, a consultant and member of National Association of Women in Construction’s safety committee

Clark observes that sites aren’t always prepared for female visitors. The contractor often has spare hard hats and gloves, which fit both men and women. They’ll also have standard H-style harnesses, but they may be too small for some women. Some manufacturers offer an alternate cross-front harness designed for female anatomy. Clark recommends having different styles of harness available, including Ms. Miller harnesses from Honeywell.

Fitting an H-Style Harness

For many women visitors and workers, an H-style harness will perform safely, so long as it’s worn correctly. For proper fit, the strap should be low and tight across the sternum. When worn this way, female workers may find the chest strap uncomfortable.

Don’t be tempted to wear the harness higher than is safe. Although it might be more comfortable to position the chest strap above the breasts, it can create a dangerous situation. Because harnesses tend to rise up during a fall, a chest strap that’s located too high could rise into your throat. One recommendation is to wear extra layers of clothing. This allows the chest strap to be positioned correctly without causing irritation.

Remember, when it comes to fall protection equipment, the most important thing is that it perform properly during a fall.