Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

Beware of fall protection gear packaged in buckets

Canadian Contractor

Some big box stores carry buckets packed with a variety of fall protection items. Purchase them at your peril.

Get serious about fall protection photoLast week I watched a contractor walk out of a big box store carrying two fall protection systems in sealed buckets. When he gets round to opening them, he will find the following items: a temporary anchor, a lifeline, a rope grab, a lanyard (with shock absorber) and a full body harness.

Sounds great, right? All that safety gear in one cost-effective package? Sure, the price is right, but there’s a potentially devastating item included in that bucket: A false sense of security.

What’s wrong with this kind of merchandising? Well, let me compare it to the purchase of safety boots. What would you think if you went into a store and found that they only carried these boots in one size? Would that lead to good safety on the job site? Obviously, not. Well it’s the same with body harnesses; Bodies also come in different shapes and sizes and harnesses need to be sized to fit the wearer. If you wear the wrong size harness, it can be fatal, because you can be catapulted out of a poorly-fitting harness during a fall. So your safety harness is doing nothing but providing you with a false sense of security.

A group of CARAHS contractors inspected the “harness in a bucket” at our training facility in Pickering, Ont., last week. I made sure the harness was fitted tightly, especially the chest strap, and I adjusted the shoulder straps as best I could. But in our test, the harness did NOT stay in place. Both shoulder straps could easily be pulled downward off both my shoulders. Meaning, I could be ejected from the harness if I bounced around during a fall. We rated this particular harness as useless.


Choose a full body harness – and the rest of your fall safety system – carefully. Don’t buy based on convenience or price alone, as your life and your workers’ lives depends on quality gear. Select a harness that suits your specific body size.

Remember in Ontario, you cannot use fall protection systems unless you’ve completed the NEW Ministry of Labour Working at Heights standard training course – or you currently carry a Fall Training card and are using the current transition rules.

If you need information on the new MOL standards or are confused about transition rules, we have the answers. Call us toll free 1-866-366-2930.

By providing education and training, CARAHS reduces your risk of fines, job site closures and prosecution under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. We are independent of unions and government.

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