The Guardian Fall Team Blog

I get it – when shopping for a new harness, you want the latest and greatest; the one with all the bells and whistles, with the most connection points and lanyard keepers, and hey, maybe even a custom color! And while I agree that more is often better, in the case of D-rings, having more of them also comes with the responsibility of knowing how to use them correctly.

Harness D-Ring Locations

Harness D-Ring Locations (Sternal D-Ring Not Standard On Seraph Construction Harness)

Let’s say you decide on the Seraph Construction Harness – good choice! The Seraph is one of the more popular Guardian offerings, and its ease of adjustability ensures quick and proper fitting for the lucky owner. Because you want the ultimate in flexibility, you order your Seraph with the additional side D-rings, giving your harness a total of five connection points. With your bright, shiny new harness in hand (or on your body, as it were), you hit the roof and begin your work.

On this latest job you are working in Fall Arrest, and during the course of the day you find that it might be slightly more comfortable to move your SRL connection from the dorsal D-ring on your harness to the side D-ring. Good idea? Eh, negative Ghostrider, the pattern is full. Just because you’ve got a D-ring there, doesn’t mean it is a compatible connection point for Fall Arrest. Bring your bird back to base and let’s meet in the briefing room for a quick refresher on proper procedures pertaining to the prevention of personal pain.

Going Back To Ground School

As I mentioned above, having more D-rings comes with the responsibility of knowing under what circumstances they can – and cannot - be used. In the case of Fall Arrest, where a worker is exposed to a fall and potentially being suspended by their harness, the only suitable connection point is the dorsal (or back) D-ring. Period. Using any other D-ring a) is outside of the design specifications of a Fall Arrest harness, b) could result in the your fall being arrested in a particularly hazardous manner, and c) many more bad things that are too depressing to mention.

Think about it this way: if you fall, the safest way for you to fall is feet down, in as upright a position as possible. Deviations from this position induce stresses that can result in much greater injury to the body, and in addition negate some of the impact-reducing designs of fall protection harnesses, such as tear-away straps and the stretching of the harness webbing itself. If you fall with your SRL connected to your side D-ring, none of these features will come into play, and (forgive me for stating the obvious) the result will not be good.

So what about those side (and other) D-rings? Once you move away from Fall Arrest and its one-to-one relationship with the dorsal D-ring, things get a little more flexible. Note I say flexible, not willy-nilly, free-form, or any other hyphenated phrase that means do anything you want.

In Fall Restraint (preventing a worker from reaching a fall hazard entirely) a worker may utilize dorsal, chest, side, or shoulder D-rings. Because no free fall is allowed in Fall Restraint, different rules apply since the potential stresses generated in a fall event are simply no longer present. Of course, the work environment may dictate one D-ring connection is more appropriate than another, but in Fall Restraint you are free to use whichever D-ring works best for you.

Work Positioning is when a worker is held in suspension so they may work freely with both hands. Rebar construction and tower work are two common fields where workers use positioning devices. In these cases, the positioning devices should be connected to the side rings of the harness for greatest comfort and work flexibility. Keep in mind that when working in Work Positioning, you should always use a back-up Fall Arrest system. I hope at the mention of a Fall Arrest system a little bell went off in your head and you thought, “Which must be connected to the dorsal D-ring only.” If it did, excellent. If not, back up two paragraphs and start over.

And lastly, we can’t forget the Rescue or Confined-Space application. In both instances, applicable D-ring connections are dorsal, chest, and shoulder. It’s easy to see that in both of these cases the intent is to keep the body in as upright a position as possible. In the case of rescue, a fall victim’s life could be literally hanging in the balance, and to ensure no more harm is done after a fall, minimizing trauma to the body by maintaining correct body positioning is paramount. For confined spaces (think lowering a worker through an opening), the use of shoulder rings is obvious. Easy in, easy out.

Hit The Skies

It turns out your new Seraph is one flexible harness, no? It has the capability to work well in just about any situation you could find yourself in, which means that you have no excuse to not use proper fall protection (and correctly!). So do it – now.

One more thing… you know those two little black rings on the vertical chest straps? Those are lanyard keepers. When using a dual leg lanyard (for 100% tie-off) only ONE leg of the lanyard may be attached to an anchor at a time (except for that fraction of a second when transitioning between anchor points). When one leg of your lanyard is free, attach it to one of these handy lanyard keepers. Do NOT feel tempted to simply hook your extra lanyard leg on a side D-ring or directly to your harness webbing. The lanyard keepers are designed to break away in the event of a fall so that your lanyard does not hang up and put you in a precarious (and dangerous) position. Remember all that stuff I said above about maintaining ideal body position during a fall? Good.

Alright rider of the roof ridge, climber of the carapace (work with me, metaphorically), towerer of the, well - tower, get back up there with your new-found knowledge and tie on – the right way. You’ve got a job to do, but that doesn’t mean you should risk your life to do it. Be safe up there.

OK, and one last thing (really)…for those of you who prefer visuals, here is a handy little graphic explaining proper D-ring selection, taken from our brand spankin’ new 2016 full-line catalog. What? You didn’t hear about our new catalog? No problem…follow this link to download your very own copy today!

D-Ring Applications Table