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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

It is the beginning of the work day. Everyone is arriving at the job site, breakfasts digesting, cups of coffee in hand, getting ready to gear-up and get going. The job today of one particular crew will take them three stories up in an unfinished office building. Gray rebar juts out from the building’s frame. Sparks and metal are flashing out from a welding project on the main floor. The blaring alerts of a reversing concrete truck signal its arrival.

It’s a typical day, and like all other days, before they can begin work, the first thing our crew needs to do is put on their fall safety equipment. It’s become routine for them, but they all understand its importance. Their first step is always grabbing a harness, so they all walk by the designated bin and pull one out. This process is always a little frustrating for them, because since all harnesses are shared, the likelihood that they get to use the same harness in consecutive days is slim at best, and getting a different harness means time wasted having to make fitting adjustments. Writing their names on the harnesses had been suggested in the past, but they were told not to; their employer didn’t want to have to buy a new harness for every worker that rotated in and out of the crew. The employer’s reservation is understandable, but there is a far more important reason why workers should never write directly on harness webbing.

Using pens, permanent ink, paint, or other methods to mark webbing can be harmful in multiple ways: it can mask damage to or fraying of harness stitching or webbing; it can potentially function to corrode or weaken a portion of the harness; and if the harness is contaminated with dirt, chemicals, or other harmful substances, a tip of a pen can grind contaminants deeper into the webbing, thereby increasing the likelihood for the harness to perform below standard should a fall occur. And here at Guardian Fall Protection, we strongly believe that safety supersedes all other concerns, and our training supervisor, Tommy Lee, reiterates this when he tells us, “I would recommend users DO NOT write on webbing.”

For instance, let’s suppose that one member of our crew is at the maximum ANSI regulated weight of 310 pounds, and that another is at the minimum ANSI regulated weight of 130 pounds. And then let’s suppose that today these two workers have chosen the harnesses worn the day before by their counterpart. A lot of adjustments are going to need to be made in order for both of these harnesses to fit their new users. Harnesses must fit snugly, but still allow for a full range of movement, so our larger worker is going to have to significantly loosen their straps, while our smaller worker is going to have to do a lot of tightening. But what if, in the pressure to begin work, the smaller worker doesn’t tighten their straps sufficiently? And what if today this worker is involved in a fall? The harness might still function to catch and save the life of the falling worker, but may not provide the shock absorption and cushioning necessary to prevent serious injury.

At Guardian, we believe that any harm befallen upon a worker is unacceptable, especially if it’s caused by a simple obstacle like not being able to personalize a harness. This is why all Guardian harnesses are designed with a customizable tag on which workers can record their names and any other pertinent information. And what if a worker leaves the employment of the company that supplied them with their harness? All that needs to be done is to cover up the name of the former worker with acceptable labeling material (contact Guardian for recommendations), and the harness can be re-customized all at virtually no cost to the employer. It might seem like a small concern, but in the fall protection industry the mere use of a pen can bring about the possibility of diminished equipment performance. But when used in combination with customizable Guardian harnesses, that same pen can transition from a destructive force to a protective one.

Sometimes what lies at the heart of innovation is simplicity, and by allowing workers to customize our harnesses without risking webbing integrity, we at Guardian Fall Protection continue to lead the way in maximizing worker safety.