Having worked on multiple hotel & casino projects in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, I know how important fall protection is to avoid fatal accidents. The onsite safety manager has one of the toughest jobs, and it shows. Fall-related deaths are nothing new in the construction industry, and they continue to be one of the leading causes of death on construction projects. The aim of this article is to help your choose the best ironworker harness for fall protection in construction.
Before we check out an overview of the Top 5 safety harnesses, I want to share a list of OSHA and ANSI fall protection standards to consider when shopping for a safety harness:
- OSHA 1926 Subpart M
- OSHA 1910 (1910.140 Personal Fall Protection Systems)
- ANSI Z359.1-2007 (Fall Protection Code)
- ANSI A10.32-2012 (Personal Fall Protection in Construction and Demolition Operations)
ANSI Z359.1-2007 is a comprehensive fall protection standard covering:
- Personal fall arrest systems, subsystems, and components
- Minimum requirements for a complete onsite fall protection program
- Work positioning
- Travel restraint systems
- Assisted rescue and self-rescue systems
OSHA standard 1910.140(b) lists minimum requirements for a personal fall protection system, including but not limited to:
- Body belt
- Body harness
Those are just some of the components that are required in an OSHA-compliant personal fall protection system.
So, with that out of the way, let’s take a peek at the harnesses before moving on to the reviews of each harness.
Top 5 Best Safety Harnesses for Construction
|#1) 3M DBI-SALA ExoFit NEX Construction Harness|
|#2) Guardian Fall Protection Premium Edge Harness|
|#3) Guardian Fall Protection Seraph Construction Harness|
|#4) KwikSafety Hurricane Construction Harness w/ Back Support|
|#5) X XBEN Comfortable Fall Protection Safety Harness|
Best Safety Harness Reviews
Depending on the number of days per workweek your wear a harness and the number of hours per day, you may or may not want to opt for a professional-grade 3M or Guardian harness.
Below, we share reviews of each of the ironworker safety harnesses we selected for our guide along with tips to help you choose the best safety harness for your situation. Also, be sure to check the pros & cons sections to see what to expect.
#1) 3M Personal Protective Equipment DBI-SALA ExoFit NEX Construction Harness
Ironworkers who value comfort, function, and their own safety will find that the 3M ExoFit harness is the best on the market for the money. This is the type of harness that allows you to work 10+hour days without experiencing discomfort. The harness itself is packed with useful features, including back & lumbar support.
Some of the more useful features that you’ll like are:
- Duo-Lok Quick Connect buckles for one-hand operation
- Integrated velcro pockets for holding valuables
- A break-away molded lanyard keeper to prevent trips and snags
- Revolver vertical torso adjusters for quicker, more precise adjustments and to prevent slippage
- Lightweight moisture-wicking padding throughout the harness
- Reflective materials for low-light conditions
Aside from the features, 3M Personal Protective Equipment uses top-notch materials that stand the test of time. Plus, you can be assured that this harness complies with all applicable OSHA and ANSI standards for fall protection.
The only real drawback is the high price compared to other options in our guide, which is the reason it’s important to consider how much you plan to use the harness before you buy one. For everyday users, this is the pick of the litter.
- A wide variety of sizes to choose from and the highest weight capacity of 420 lbs
- Approved for all-day comfort during 12+ hour workdays
- The integrated belt is good for hanging tools and bolt bags
- Approved by 6’+ tall users
- Very durable materials that can take a beating
- Recommended for working on a boom lift
- Trusted by power linemen
- Approved by union ironworkers
- Gets warmer in summer months than thinner nylon harnesses
- The leg straps may cause some discomfort
- You might require more room on the belt for bags and tool frogs
#2) Guardian Fall Protection Premium Edge Harness
Guardian’s award-winning Edge model is the first place to look in the Guardian lineup for a top ironworker safety harness. Compared to the 3M model above, the Edge is lighter, yet the largest size still manages to safely secure up to a 420lb user. You’ll find that the mesh-lined, closed-cell foam padding breathes well and traps sweat during the summer months.
Currently, the Edge harness is available in three sizes to suit everyone. One thing you’ll immediately notice upon receiving this belt is the high-quality craftsmanship. Every touch all the way down to the stitching ensures that this harness will not fail you. Most users find that it’s a good budget alternative to pricier 3M models for all-day comfort.
Other highlights of this harness are the quick-connect friction torso buckle w/ release tab, an integrated tool belt with slide-on strap, convenient storage slots, 5 points of adjustment, side positioning D-rings, and even an inside pocket in the back pad to house a cool-heat or hydration pack.
- The padding is comfortable for those long workdays
- Lighter than the 3M model above
- Approved by big & tall men for comfort
- Sturdy, high-quality D-rings
- Good belt for holding tools and pouches
- Ample adjustments
- Heavy-duty materials that hold up well
- Supports the body evenly
- Easy to put on and off
- The smallest size might be too big for short & skinny guys
- Heavier than a normal harness
#3) Guardian Fall Protection Seraph Construction Harness
A step down in price is the Guardian Seraph harness that’s better for ironworkers and construction workers who only use a harness a couple of days a week or for fewer hours each day. This harness is also worth a look for managers who want to stock a harness for their employees that’s better than a basic harness.
The most obvious difference between the Seraph and Edge models is the shoulder straps. The Edge model features more robust padded shoulder straps than the Seraph, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your work climate. Folks working in Las Vegas or other warm climates may prefer lighter shoulder straps to avoid trapped heat.
One missing feature is a quick-connect torso buckle, which does make the Seraph a little harder to put on and take off than the Edge model. Outside of that missing feature, you get most of the same key features in this harness as the Edge model, including side D-rings, tongue-buckle leg straps, and a heavy-duty reinforced tool belt. All in all, when you compare the price of the Seraph model to the Edge, the Seraph does deliver excellent value for the money for people on a budget.
- The best budget safety harness for construction
- Six points of adjustment to ensure all-day comfort
- A good choice for managers and contractors who want to stock harnesses for their employees
- Excellent customer service marks
- A lot more comfortable than one-size-fits-all harnesses
- Approved by big guys over 6’5″ and 250lbs
- ANSI and OSHA compliant
- Enough room on the belt to fit a carpenter’s tool bag on each side
- A top safety harness for warm climates
- Less padding than the Edge model
- Sizing can be tricky
- People with long torsos may not be able to get the best fit
#4) KwikSafety Hurricane Construction Harness w/ Back Support
The KwikSafety Hurricane harness is another good budget-friendly harness for construction workers. KwikSafety designs and tests its harnesses to comply with both ANSI and OSHA standards (ANSI/ASSE Z359.11-2014) for safe use on job sites. Compared to the three harnesses above, the KwikSafety Hurricane is lighter weight, and it’s the lightest of the five harnesses in this guide.
Of the KwikSafety models currently available, we like the Hurricane the most since it does provide back and lumbar support. The Tornado and Thunder models do not feature back support, which is a dealbreaker for people who plan to use a harness daily and for long hours.
One thing to keep in mind should you choose this harness over the first three options is that it’s one-size-fits-most. This makes it a good choice for contractors who want to stock a universal safety harness for their employees but not the best choice for ironworkers who prefer a more customized, comfortable fit.
- Tested to be ANSI & OSHA-compliant
- Solidly constructed and high-quality craftsmanship for the money
- A good universal harness for contractors and managers who want to stock OSHA-approved harnesses for their employees
- Surprisingly comfortable for the price
- Easy adjustments when switching from winter and summer work clothes
- No pinching in the leg and groin regions
- The belt provides good back support
- Easy to maneuver in
- Approved by big guys over 6′ and 250lbs
- Less comfortable than Guardian and 3M harnesses
- The waist belt may be too short for men’s waist size 44 and larger
- May require readjustments to keep the buckles tight
#5) X XBEN Comfortable Fall Protection Safety Harness
The final budget safety harness that’s good for construction is this one by X XBEN. Compared to the KwikSafety harness above, the XBEN harness has more padding in the leg and waist straps for enhanced comfort during long workdays. Additionally, the XBEN harness features five D-rings compared to three D-rings in the KwikSafety model.
One minor qualm we have with this harness is that the company is relatively unknown compared to the three companies above. According to XBEN, its harnesses meet or exceed the requirements set forth by OSHA and ANSI for fall arrest systems. If you decide to buy this harness, it’s not a bad idea to check with your manager to get the green light.
Lastly, the major advantage of this harness is that it costs about the same as the KwikSafety and Seraph harnesses at the time of this writing, yet it features more padding. Also, be sure to consider that this is a one-size-fits-all harness before you buy it.
- Features more padding than the KwikSafety harness for about the same price
- 5 D-rings for a wide variety of applications
- The belt provides some lumbar support
- OSHA and ANSI compliant according to the manufacturer
- Lighter than the 3M and Guardian harnesses in this guide
- You’ll most likely be pleased by the level of comfort
- Premium materials for a budget price
- The company is relatively unknown compared to the other brands
- It might arrive without instructions
When choosing the best ironworker harness, it’s a wise idea to get a basic understanding of the OSHA and ANSI standards we linked to in the introduction to get a better understanding of the components that make up a compliant personal fall arrest system. Additionally, after you receive your harness, be sure to read through the directions and give it a test run before bringing it into the field. This way, you not only ensure your own safety but the safety of others around you.
If you want a reliable harness that’ll stand the test of time, 3M and Guardian are the best safety harness brands. When you invest in a harness from one of these companies, you know for sure that it’s both ANSI and OSHA approved for safe use on the job site. Lastly, the level of comfort is noticeably higher, which makes these brands the ideal choice for guys who use a harness daily for long hours.