Safety Harness Systems


Safety harness systems should only be used once these requirements are met and approval has been given by site management.

Before Putting Safety Harness Systems In Place

Site management must ensure:

  • A safety plan including emergency procedures is developed
  • More effective means of fall prevention have not been overlooked that eliminate or minimise the fall hazard. 

The Safety Plan

The safety plan should be monitored by site management. It should include:

  • Workers have been suitably trained in the use of harness systems
    (Unit Standard 23229 and 15757).
  • WorkSafe NZ Notification of Particular Hazardous Work form has been completed for any work more than 5m high and a copy provided to site management before starting work.
  • An effective means of rescure has been provided for in the event that a fall may result in the worker becoming suspended. 

Using The Harness

A site management representative should monitor harness use to ensure:

  • Restraint systems are chosen over fall arrest systems whenever practicable. 
  • Full body harnesses are worn and only sternal (front) and dorsal (back) attachment D-rings are used for fall arrest connection
  • All connecting lines, lanyards and fall arrest devices restrict free fall distances to a maximum of 2m and incorporate some type of energy absorber all anchorages have a load bearing capability of 15kn (1500kg) for 1 person.
  • All attachment hardware has double action locking mechanisms
  • No more than two workers connect to an anchor 21kn (2100kg required)
  • That fall arrest systems are not employed at heights with insufficient fall clearance, i.e. a 2m lanyard with shock absorber will require the anchor to be between 5.7 and 6.0 m from the level below
  • Anchor lines are not employed in such a manner that may create pendulum effect
  • Safety harness systems are not used in work environments that may adversely affect equipment
  • All harness system equipment is in good condition and stored correctly when not
    in use
  • All harness system equipment is within its service expiry date and has been inspected within the last six months. A copy of the inspection record/log is to be presented to the site management

Do I need to wear a harness if I’m in a scissor lift?

According to Worksafe’s Best practice guidelines for working at height in New Zealand, if you’re using a scissor lift, a harness should be worn unless a risk assessment has proven that the work can be done safely without a harness, and there is no risk of falling.

Tips to remember:

  • The worker operating the lift must be competent in its use.
  • Make sure to follow any instructions given by the manufacturer.
  • People must work inside guardrails and not reach or climb over the rails. Workers need to keep both feet on the work platform.
  • If you often work at height, it’s a good idea to regularly practise and review your rescue plan – that way if the worst does happen, everyone will know what to do and no-one will hesitate.
  • When using a scissor lift or other elevating work platforms, like a cherry picker, and using a harness, you should ideally be protected by a double lanyard system fitted with a short energy absorber or fit for purpose self-retracting lifeline (SRL), fixed to a certified anchor point.

Are you competent?

If you or your workers are wearing a harness, you’ll need to be trained and “competent”. Only trained and competent people can install and use harness systems on site. Untrained workers must be trained by a qualified person before they are permitted to use a harness system. They will also need to be supervised at all times by another worker who is also trained and competent. For workers completing basic work, a recommended way of showing competence is NZQA Unit Standard 23229 – Use a safety harness for personal fall prevention when working at height. If you are involved in planning, installing, operating fall arrest systems and supervising staff, NZQA Unit Standard 15757 – Use, install and disestablish proprietary fall arrest systems when working at height is recommended.

To get these Unit Standards, check out our Height and Harness Safety and Fall Arrest Systems courses. To learn more about how to do a risk assessment, download the free Risk Guide.

Rules and Regulations

Managers, Site Supervisors should ensure that all Safety Harness Systems supplied and used on their projects comply with:

  • AS/NZS 1891 (Parts 1 to 4) Industrial Fall Arrest Systems and Devices
  • Best Practice Guidelines For Working at Height 
  • Manufacturer's specifications

Employers and Workers should ensure that all work practices comply with: