Protection From Falls, by Big J. in Wisconsin

I have been reading SurvivalBlog for some time now, and I have seen several articles on fire protection, and some mention of chainsaw safety, as well as other notes on being sure to safely use tools.  I have not seen, however, any topics regarding fall protection. 

In the post-SHTF we will be doing more repairs ourselves.  Things like patching the roof, modifying the gutters and downspouts to collect water, maybe installing those PV panels you bought.  In addition, more folks will be hunting, which can mean using tree hunting stands or elevated hunting blinds.  These situations present prime opportunities for a fall that could cause injuries that you don’t want or need in the new world. 

Currently, OSHA requires fall protection for all personnel working more than 4 feet above the floor in industrial settings, 5 feet in maritime settings and 6 ftee in construction.  There is good reason for this, falls account for 8% of all occupational fatalities from trauma, and they can be easily prevented.

Basically, fall prevention and arrest systems are made up of three components:

Anchor Point – to stop a falling person, the anchor point must be able to withstand 5,000 pounds of force per person attached.  Many items that we may think are adequate anchor points are not.  For example, your chimney, antenna tower, or vehicle bumper on the ground may not be adequate to provide resistance to a 5,000 pound force.  That is why I recommend that preppers install adequate anchor points on their roofs, stands, blinds, towers, etc., now, so they are available when needed in the future.

Body Harness – a belt is not adequate to stop a falling person, a full harness must be worn if you want to avoid injury.  If you fall, and your fall is arrested by your lanyard, and you are wearing a belt, there is a good chance you will suffer internal injuries, (and aren’t we trying to avoid injuries here?)  These harnesses are cheap and readily available.  They can be had for as little as $60 online.  For the most part, a harness is a harness, they all will do the same job, if you pay more, you are probably paying for comfort, rather than a performance during a fall.  There are many videos online that discuss how to put the harness on to be effective during a fall, but I highly recommend training in person.

Connecting Devices – these include D-rings and snap hooks that are used to connect the lanyard to the anchor point or harness.  These components typically must be rated for 5,000 pounds of force as well.  Buy connecting devices that are rated for this force, do not skimp and try to use items from your local hardware store.

While the topic of how to use a fall arrest/prevention system is too in depth to discuss on this blog, I highly recommend that readers purchase and learn how to use a safety harness and lanyard as part of their preparation gear.  As I mentioned above, there are plenty of online resources that will give you the basics of use, however being able to put on your harness and see how it feels when properly fitted, and being able ask questions are key to learning how to use a fall prevention/arrest system.  For this reason, I recommend that preppers take fall protection training if it is offered by their employer, whether they will use it on the job or not.  If it is not offered by your employer, it is worth while to take a class at the local tech school.  It could be a valuable tool down the road, to keep you and those who rely on you safe.