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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

We at Guardian have a wide range of knowledge and talents. But, I wager I can name a field few of us are expert in—biology. The basic biological idea of ‘carrying capacity,’ though, is one that even a non-science-oriented brain like mine can understand: it is the largest amount of a given species that can be supported by their environment.

So, what happens if a species exceeds its carrying capacity? Well, the environment inevitably gets depleted to the point where the population “adjusts” itself back to a sustainable size. Or, in other words, its numbers go into a temporary, but painful, free fall.

In the world of fall protection we encounter carrying capacity on a daily basis, we just may not think of it that way. The environment? Your Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS). The population? You. And the size of that population (the weight of the worker) can reach a point where lives become endangered.

Our country is growing, and not only in terms of population numbers, but in waist size as well, and workers are growing along with everybody else. We in the fall safety industry therefore must grow with them.

Current ANSI regulation Z359.13, 3.1.1 specifies that the weight requirement of workers (plus all tools and equipment) for a PFAS to be tested and function correctly is between 130-310 pounds. No additional weights in excess of this range are accounted for by ANSI.

Being aware of the capacity of a PFAS is a vital part of the job of those who work near fall hazards, but this awareness becomes even more vital for heavier workers. Testing has shown that, when suspended by a PFAS, workers who weigh in above the ANSI regulated weight range experience physical pain at an increased rate and degree when compared with smaller workers. Some PFAS equipment requires special consideration even for workers in the 220-310 pound range.

OSHA regulation 1926.502(d)(16)(v), however, allows for a bit more flexibility, and states that, “If the system is used by an employee having a combined tool and body weight of 310 pounds (140 kg) or more, then the employer must appropriately modify the criteria and protocols...to provide protection for such heavier weights, or the system will not be deemed in compliance...

Luckily for our customers, the Guardian Big Boss Lanyard is designed, tested, and certified for heavier workers, which puts it on the cutting-edge of fall safety technology for higher capacity PFAS. The sturdy build and built-in shock-pack of the Big Boss Lanyard make it unique: it can serve as a standard lanyard (maximum free fall 6 feet) for workers between 310-420 pounds. It allows every Guardian harness to support these workers, too.

However, it doesn’t stop there.

Because the Big Boss Lanyard is designed with the heavier worker in mind, smaller workers benefit from its strength and flexibility in many ways:its free fall capacity goes up to 12 feet for workers within the 130-310 pound range, which greatly increases the availability, accessibility, and safety of work spaces, since it allows workers to tie-off to anchors at their feet when no overhead anchorages are available;the Big Boss Lanyard can be purchased with a variety of steel rebar and standard snap-hook connector configurations, thereby increasing the types of allowable anchor points it can attach to; and,if a fall does occur, average arresting forces will reach less than 1,350 pounds (well below the ANSI regulation of 1,800 pounds). Equipment with multifunctionality and utility, like the Big Boss Lanyard,not only saves us time and money in the work place, it keeps us safe.

The goal, of course, is to avoid falls in the first place, so the most important thing for any worker, big or small, is to read and apply all the safety information included in their corresponding instruction manuals, and to have a clear understanding of the rating system of their PFAS.

Understand your carrying capacity, and the most important member of your “species” (you) will be much less likely to experience environmental “adjustment.” If an accident does occur though, we at Guardian are confident that our Big Boss Lanyard can be an effective and integral component of a PFAS for workers of every size. But, besides our extensive testing and meticulous design, why are we so confident in this lanyard? Because our customers have been eating it up.