A new safety harness designed to accommodate the 'female form' has been unveiled by the International Powered Access Federation.
The trade body organised a competition to design a safety harness which would be more comfortable and suitable for women.
Tractel’s Ladytrac harness won the competition, and another entry submitted by ZT Safety Systems has been highly commended.
The Tractel harness (pictured, left and belofeatures several plus points that make it particularly suitable for use by female operators of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs).
The straps are not positioned across the chest; they are positioned down the side of the upper body. The harness comes with a detachable, lightweight, breathable vest fitted with adjustable Velcro fastening at multiple points.
The buckles featuring colour coding and quick release are fastened on the outer thigh, as opposed to the inner thigh. The harness is easy to put on and take off and is comfortable to wear.
“The winning entry addresses the problem of friction on the upper body caused by the traditional positioning of load-bearing straps across the chest,” said Rupert Douglas-Jones, IPAF international training manager, who led the independent panel of judges for this competition.
“In the event of a catapulting incident, this harness designed for women would take the pressure away from the chest and move it down the side of the body towards the more muscular outer thigh muscles, thus reducing the potential for injury.”
The harness from ZT, which was highly commended, features a harness with two shoulder straps built into workmen’s trousers through an alternate thick/thin webbing system. In the event of a catapulting incident, the thin, movable webbing that is fitted within the thick webbing pulls tight. The load-bearing pressure is directed around the calf muscles and the force is spread through the strong trouser material.
“The judges commended this entry for its clever thinking and the fact that no forces are applied to the chest area,” said Douglas-Jones. “This could be a step forward in harness manufacturing.”
Tim Whiteman, IPAF managing director, added: “IPAF’s harnesses for women competition has highlighted points to look out for when providing female operators with harnesses. Research suggests that MEWPs are increasingly used by women, particularly in the non-construction sector, which accounts for more than 40% of European MEWP rental activity.”
IPAF believes that operators of boom-type platforms should wear a full-body harness with an adjustable, short lanyard to prevent possible ejection from the basket in the case of an accident. Details of industry recommendations are set out in IPAF technical guidance note H1, available at the Publications section of its website.