3M Fall Protection Safety Tip

Fall Protection Safety Tip: How do Impact Indicators Work on Fall Protection Harnesses?

Do you know what an impact indicator is on fall protection gear? Let’s explore more about this important safety feature.

Harnesses involved in falls or exposed to impact forces are required by OSHA, ANSI, CSA, and CE regulations to be removed from service. Current product standards, such as ANSI/ASSP Z359.11, require fall impact indicators to be built into each full body harness. This feature is included to help facilitate inspection of the harness by providing a quick visual aid to the inspector or user.

Why is the Impact Indicator on Fall Protection Gear Important?

There are two types of impact indicators that harnesses may be fitted with. The first type is incorporated into the harness D-ring. When these harnesses are involved in a fall, the visual impact indicator is deployed, and the D-ring is retained within the harness webbing. The second type is a fold-over style impact indicator in which the rear vertical harness webbing is folded and stitched together. When these harnesses are involved in a fall, the stitches tear causing the webbing to unfold. These visual impact indicators help users and competent persons to quickly determine that the harness has been exposed to a fall or impact forces and should be removed from service.

The visual impact indicators will typically activate when a force of 450-650 lbs. has been applied. Deployed impact indicators cannot be re-set or repaired. During repeated activities, such as training exercises where a student is suspended or bouncing while positioning or is jolted during training, 450-650 lbs. of force may be exceeded and the visual impact indicators may deploy even though no fall was experienced. You should always inspect the impact indicators after these exercises to ensure they have not deployed. 

Most 3M harnesses now incorporate a fold-over webbing style impact indicator. These are often preferred for training and suspension work as they are typically not affected by general position, suspension, or rescue activities. Harnesses with the D-ring style impact indicators for suspended dorsal D-ring activity may be more prone to false deployment of impact indicators.

When a visual impact indicator is deployed during training exercises, but no free fall has occurred, 3M allows the harness with a deployed visual impact indicator to be used for further training exercises provided that a competent person has inspected the harness and found it to be otherwise acceptable and in safe working condition.

Aside from training exercises as noted above, if your harness shows visual impact indication it should be removed from service immediately. If you have further questions, please contact 3M Fall Protection.  

Always thoroughly review the User Instructions provided with your product. To keep the above information at your fingertips, we encourage you to bookmark this technical bulletin. For help with fall protection equipment and other PPE, please contact us today for assistance.