New safety harness removes suspension trauma and may improve safety

It is rare to see any major innovation in in the area of working at heights, particularly in relation to fall protection harnesses.  Yet coming soon to the Australian and New Zealand markets, via the Galahad Group, is the ZT Safety Harness, a fall arrest harness without a groin strap.

The ZT Safety Harness has been designed to eliminate the potential for suspension trauma which can result from being suspended for some time in a traditional harnesses.  A video is perhaps the best way to understand this harness which, in the absence of the groin strap, is integrated into a pair of work trousers or coveralls with webbing extending down the leg of the trousers to gaiters on the lower calf.  This configuration provides for a suspended worker to be in a seated position with the shock from the fall being distributed more evenly along the body.

There are advantages other than the elimination of suspension trauma.  Groin straps in harnesses can be uncomfortable and this discomfort can deter people from using harnesses.  If the ZT safety harness encourages the wearing of personal protective equipment, this is a big positive.

The ZT trousers  are standard Dickies-brand work trousers reinforced with webbing on the waistband and with the gaiters in the trouser leg.  Work clothes on construction and building sites are easily torn so replacement cost may be a consideration, if the trousers cannot be repaired or patched. However the condition of the pants is unlikely to affect the harness structure so functionality should be maintained.

The process for washing the gear may need some explanation (an a brochure is available on this process, but not online).  Standard machine washing is the way to go and the company provides a special pouch for some of the metal components of the harness.

IMG_1265The function of the gaiters is difficult to understand without seeing them. I initially thought the gaiters may tighten around the calf and impede the ankle-high safety boots that many construction workers are required to wear but the gaiter is loose and only comes into play during a fall.

In some ways the optional harness coveralls may be a more attractive option as this allows for regular clothing underneath.  However, as with many other safety products from Europe such as cut-resistant clothing for instance, their suitability for the hot climate of Australia can be dubious.  As workwear in Australia increasingly becomes lightweight and has ventilation designed into the clothing, some of the European products need to look at hot weather fabrics and appropriate designs.

The ZT Safety Harness shows a new perspective on safety harnesses for the Australian and New Zealand markets which is not just a new buckle or different lanyard.  The removal of the groin strap is a good move resulting in an alternative approach with the design of the trousers and coveralls.  The products are still not ready for retailing here yet but, when available, should be checked by those who work at heights.  There is merit in the concept but only those who may need to work in this PPE can truly assess the practicality.

Kevin Jones

Categories construction, design, ergonomics, hazards, height, innovation, OHS, safety, Uncategorized

8 thoughts on “New safety harness removes suspension trauma and may improve safety”

  1. Interesting design. A big problem that I can see with this innovative design is that because it is combined with the work wear, it would require frequent washing if used during construction work, therefore requiring multiple units to be purchased for each user. There are harnesses on the market that come with a built in devise to eliminate suspension trauma from a conscious suspended person. I can see this design would be good in some work situations, just not in construction.
    Good on someone coming up with a potentially improved product though.

  2. Hi Kevin, I was about to post a lengthy response in relation to the extremely poor Worksafe brochure your link refers to but thought better of it. I am aware of that brochure and we considered lodging a complaint as the contents relate to a \”kidney style rigid\” belt only and does not consider any other design. We chose not to take this course of action as we have considerable experience in dealing with government safety bureaucracy and quite frankly we were not prepared to waste resources.

    We have now thought about the matter again and we will now make contact with Worksafe Victoria with a view to them reviewing their brochure or withdrawing it. We would be very happy for them to conduct comprehensive independent testing of the Tolai product and publish the results as they find them. We did just that with early University testing ( all at our cost but independently undertaken) that showed there is value in the device but as usual there is always room for more testing and conclusions.

    We do not post access to those test results through links as we like to understand who is inquiring and for what reason, as part of our commitment to safe use of the Tolai product. This is not a sales or marketing ploy as we will not supply product to any individual or organisation if we do not believe the product will be used appropriately or safely. we have rejected many sales where we believed the product would not be used in a safe manner.

  3. Good article Kevin. It is incumbent upon all in the safety profession to promote innovation and give good exposure to product that has potential with the usual caveats of proper assessment and being fit for purpose. We should not shy away from doing this if \”product promotion\” is an accusation made, as the objective is to provide information to industry that will potentially improve safety outcomes.

    I have significant experience in product development for safety and one that I am involved in is a back support that was originally designed for shearers and is now supplied around the world for all manner of industry as an injury prevention device, as well as a rehabilitation prophylactic. for those interested in solutions to injury prevention where a fixed work station is not possible this device provides quite some flexibility, a small video is available on You Tube, just type into the search bar \”Tolai all purpose back support\” and you will see true Aussie innovation. There are university testing results available for interested persons and my contact details are on the video.

    Please don\’t see this as product promotion, the information provided is for information only and in the interests of a safer workplace.

    1. Tony, I thought long about any article on this innovation as I don\’t endorse or advertise products but the innovative design of this product was worth mentioning.

      If you can provide links to the university testing results of the back support, I will gladly look at them because WorkSafe Victoria has been very critical of backbelts, particularly, through its information sheet called \”Back belts are not effective in reducing back injuries\” issued in August 2009.

  4. We are working towards getting the right mix of materials for the Australian market to make the harness lightweight, yet durable and most off all ventilated so it can be warn comfortably in summer. Well keep the blog posted.

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