When I began my construction career in the early 90s jobsite safety was a priority and I was taught to use nail guns and saws safely. I remember being trained how to use an extension ladder, to always be aware of what was going on around me, and a hundred other things that related to safety. That being said, I don’t remember learning to use personal fall protection equipment. Over the years that changed; the rules regarding the use of fall protection became stricter, I began to supervise construction projects with volunteers who do not work in the trades, and as I got older I became aware of how quickly life can change for the worse. In the last few years I’ve read a lot about fall protection and OSHA, and taken an OSHA 10 class. For all of those reasons I became more safety conscious and now use personal fall arrest gear as necessary.
About a year ago I contacted a few manufacturers about trying out some of their harnesses. The ones we had in the truck were past their prime and it was time to see what was new and review them for guys who need to buy the equipment. There were too many models to test them all so we tested two or more models (basic and deluxe) from the companies that agreed to send product. Here’s what we learned from using the Super Anchor Deluxe Tool Bag Harness and Max Harness. Click the links immediately below for information on the other brands tested.
Werner (LiteFit; Blue Armor 1000; Blue Armor 2000)
Capital Safety (Protecta Pro Vest Style Harness; DBI Sala Delta Vest Style Harness; DBI Sala ExoFit Nex)
Super Anchor Deluxe Tool Bag Harness
This harness has been designed to be both comfortable and functional. It includes an attached set of nail bags so if you buy this kit you’ll have your bags and harness in one shot. The D rings on the back and the belt are small enough to be unobtrusive, but large enough to make it easy to connect to an anchor. I like how the two rings on the belt can be folded to the side and tucked away when not in use. The shoulders and back straps are extremely comfortable; they’re padded and don’t have any edges to them like the straps on more basic harnesses do. And the straps are designed not to absorb moisture—an advantage in wet climates like ours or in hot climates where a harness that absorbs sweat will begin to stink. All the connections are quick-connect and there are replaceable webbing keepers to hold the extra length of strap against the frame of the harness. This harness is easy to inspect because there are tags that show you where to look and a tag behind one of the straps to record when inspections were made.
I like this harness because it’s comfortable and easy to use. It is light enough not to be bothersome and the straps didn’t chafe around my shoulders. My only complaint is about the chest strap—which can only be adjusted looser or tighter. It can’t be adjusted up or down so after a couple of hours I found that my nipples were really sore (my crew laughed at me when I complained about it). The nail bags are functional but not “framer specific” so I couldn’t get used to them. They are too deep and the pouch where I would put my tape didn’t form to my tape which made it difficult to put my tape back and really slowed me down. It might be different for other framers or different trades.
The Super Anchor Deluxe Tool Bag Harness is great if it fits you correctly and you like the bags. If the chest strap could be adjusted up and down I’d be happy to use this rig—though I’d replace the bags with my preferred style of Occidental bags—and just hang them from the belt. Better yet, I’d buy the version that does not include bags and add my own.
The harness is available in multiple colors and configurations. We had hi-vis with bags (6151H). The company also makes them in red, silver, pink, and a couple of different camo colors. They’re available in small, large, large-long X-large, and with and without bags. The harness I tested includes bags and goes for about $360 online. That’s a lot to spend, but look at it this way: it keeps you safe and will last many years longer than a pair of boots.
Super Anchor Max Harness
This is a bare bones harness and is the style most people probably start out with. It is lightweight and very low profile. It is designed to do its job and that is it. What I likes about this harness is I could wear my nail bags over it and not really notice that it was there—though when worn over a T-shirt the straps chafed a little. If you don’t have to wear a harness very often this might be the way to go. It’s not the best or most comfortable but it is inexpensive. The Max Harness can be purchased as a kit—which includes the harness, a couple of anchors, rope, and a shock absorber—for about $130.