You may be familiar with iconic images of men working on the Empire State Building in the 1920s, none of which are wearing any form of fall protection. Many pictures show men eating lunch while perched on steel beams, their legs dangling dangerously above the ground. Even though it sounds dangerous, that was just the nature of the job at the time. Reliable fall protection equipment for at-height workers was still years away from being developed.
The First Form of Fall Protection
The body belt, which utility linemen used to climb poles, was the first type of height safety equipment to have been developed in the 20th century. The downsides and risks of using a body belt as a fall arrest device quickly became clear since dangerous fall arrest forces were transmitted to a worker’s midsection and spine. In order for the belt to successfully arrest a fall, the worker had to fall “right,” which still left the person suspended horizontally. In the worst case scenario, if a worker fell “incorrectly,” the belt might be pulled up to their armpits, or even worse, they could slip out of the belt.
Further Progress in Height Safety Equipment
By the 1940s, manufacturers had concentrated on reducing the chance that a worker could slip out of the fall protection system and on refining the distribution of fall arrest forces across the body.
The first full-body harness, which was inspired after the military parachute harness used by paratroopers, was a substantial improvement over the body belt. However, it was difficult to operate and uncomfortable to wear due to its heavy, bulky materials.
Modernisation of Safety Harnesses
The harness was updated in response to end-user feedback and a growing industry demand for a harness that was easier to use. Manufacturers created harnesses in the triangle and X-fit styles, both of which were simpler to use. Users could easily put on the harness by grabbing it by the dorsal D-ring feature, saving them from having to untangle a mass of straps.
The first premium comfort harness was created in 2001 with input from ergonomics specialists, industrial designers, and mechanical engineers. It combined padding and soft edges with strong materials while being almost as light and comfortable as a piece of work clothing.
Increasing Demand for Height Safety Training and Regulations
Despite the development of more contemporary fall protection systems, there were still numerous reported working at height injuries and deaths, many of which were caused by a lack of sufficient training and outdated standards.
With the introduction of The Work at Height Regulations in 2005, employers and anyone responsible for working at height activities now have a legal duty to ensure that all work is properly planned, supervised, and done by competent people.
This later proved to be an effective standard that has led to the development of relevant height safety training courses in order to ensure those who wish to work at height are equipped with the best knowledge and expertise to keep themselves and other safe.
Leading fall protection provider Eurosafe has launched its own training centre where it offers essential height safety training courses to those who work at height. Because of their extensive expertise in the height safety industry, they are well recognised and accredited.
For more information about the various height safety training courses that Eurosafe Solutions provide, please visit: