7 Common Misuses Of Fall Protection Equipment

common misuses of fall protection equipment

7 Common Misuses Of Fall Protection Equipment

Every worker has the right to return home safe each and every day. The most recent report conducted by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), showed that 251,508 Canadian’s accepted claims for lost time due to work-related injury or disease in just one year.

Did you know that approximately 18% of those time-loss injuries, or about 42,000 workers a year, are injured due to fall incidents alone? You can prevent falls and incidents like these by wearing proper fall protection equipment, and wearing it right.

If you’re working at a height exceeding 3 meters (10 feet) occupational health and safety laws generally require fall protection measures to be in place. You can check with your jurisdiction as requirements do vary, but in most cases fall protection measures such as fixed barriers, surface opening protections, control zones, fall or travel restraint systems, fall containment systems or fall arrest systems are required. You can learn more about some of these systems by reading our fall protection glossary.

But it’s not good enough just to throw on the required minimum fall protection equipment and call it a day – It’s important the equipment be used properly.

In this blog, we will be talking a bit about 7 common misuses of fall protection equipment, to serve as a reminder for things to look out for, but should be used in conjunction with proper training. The Hercules Training Academy offers an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses, including a course on fall protection!

1. Misuse of Rebar Snap Hooksfall protection repair snap hooks

Rebar hooks (also referred to as pelican hooks, large gates or form hooks) are frequently used pieces of equipment in the fall protection world because their large openings make them quick and easy to use. They also allow for connection to many objects, eliminating the need for additional anchorage connectors. However, not using an additional connector can be very dangerous in the wrong circumstances and rebar hooks are only approved for specific configurations so if you use them outside of those configurations, it can present a safety hazard to workers.

The best way to mitigate the misuse of rebar snap hooks is to ensure that the anchorage connector D-ring is larger than the snap hook to avoid side loading. Since this is difficult to achieve, oftentimes workers choose to use a small anchor strap instead with some workplaces not allowing the use of snap hooks all together!

2. Misuse of Lanyards

A common mistake made with lanyards is users wrapping them back upon themselves. Most fall arrest lanyards are not designed to wrap around a structure and hook onto themselves, but a worker may try to set it up in that way if no other anchorage point is available. This can cause equipment failure due to damaged to the lanyard material or improper gate loading. This problem can be solved with anchorage straps, which are designed to be wrapped back on themselves – providing the proper strength needed to be safe while also remaining accessible.

Furthermore, regardless of if a lanyard is designed for wrapping around beams, piping, ductwork, or around a guardrail, with time, the sawing action could damage it. This problem can be mitigated by using a beam clamp or beam straps as an anchorage connector.

3. Inappropriate Anchorage Connection or Strength

A fall protection system is only as effective as its anchorage. Always ensure the anchorage is strong enough to support the weight of the individual wearing it in the case of a fall. To be sure you can rely on your fall protection equipment, always test the strength of the connection after set up.

To be certain you have the right anchorage strength, only use certified anchorages and make sure there is always someone on the scene with the correct training to properly identify the appropriate anchorage to use for the circumstances of the job. Since the average weight of the individuals using the fall protection system will very, the anchorage system must be designed for the maximum weight of any potential users.

3m dbi-sala fall protection anchorages

4. Anchoring Below The Dorsal D-Ring

Another common misuse of fall protection systems is workers anchoring themselves to a point below their dorsal D-Ring (sometimes even below their feet). This increases the free fall weight and distance, sometimes beyond the equipment’s ability to arrest it. Pushing these limits can cause the lanyard or anchorage to fall, or can exceed the allowable force on the body, which can increase the likelihood of a serious injury.

The goal is always to minimize free-fall distances, so connecting to a point above the dorsal D-ring should be the choice if in any way possible. However, if there is no overhead structure to provide an anchorage point, the worker must use a free-fall lanyard that is approved for the greater free-fall distance and force.

5. Unproperly Adjusted Harnesses

For fall protection equipment to be used correctly and effectively, workers must be wearing their equipment correctly. Most fall protection harnesses are designed with adjustable leg, waist, shoulder, and chest straps, which all must be sized to the user. A fall protection system is no good if you can’t stay in it, which is exactly the risk presented if the harness is not tightened properly to the user’s body. As you can imagine, being ejected from a harness mid-fall can lead to serious injury.

Here’s what to look for to ensure a harness is fitted correctly:

  • The dorsal D-ring sits between the worker’s shoulders blades – If it’s adjusted too high, the metal hardware could cause injury to the user’s head and if it’s adjusted too low, the user can be left hanging in a poor position with an increased risk of suspension trauma.
  • The chest strap should lie across the user’s chest at the base of the sternum – If it’s too high on the user’s chest, it can cause a choking hazard in the case of a fall by putting pressure on the user’s neck.
  • Shoulder straps cannot be pulled off of the user’s shoulders or outward.
  • Sub-pelvic straps are positioned under the buttocks.
  • Leg straps are tightened to a point where four fingers can fit between the strap and the user’s leg, but cannot pull away from the leg.
  • General observation of harness fit – Looking for things like twisted straps or asymmetrical leg straps. 

3m dbi-sala fall protection harness specs and info

6. Using Damaged or Recalled Equipment

Everything from UV exposer, corrosion, wear and tear and everything in between can impact the effectiveness of your fall protection equipment. You can avoid UV and corrosion damage by storing your equipment properly when not in use, but some amount of wear and tear cannot be avoided if you’re actually using your equipment, which is what it’s made for after all! Because of this, all users should be trained on what to look for when inspecting equipment to ensure that it is in proper working order to operate safely.

Steps to ensure your equipment is always in safe working condition:

  1. Have your equipment inspected on at least an annual basis – Another thing Hercules SLR’s experienced and LEEA certified team can take off your hands! 
  2. Register your equipment so you are always notified of product recalls or advisories.
  3. Stay current on advisories and advances in technology.
  4. Store equipment in an environment that is as protected as possible.

7. Confusing Twin-Leg Energy-Absorbing & Self-Retracting Devices

Although these two devices sometimes look and function similar, a common mistake people make is thinking twin-leg energy absorbing & self-retracting lifeline devices are the same or interchangeable. However, since they are designed and tested for specific conditions, it’s important they are used for those appropriate applications.

The self-retracting lifeline (SRL) vs. energy-absorbing lifeline (EAL) is a topic of lively debate among fall protection engineers because both devices have their benefits but the general consensus is that an SRL is preferable in an industrial environment where an overhead horizontal system is (or can be) installed and an EAL is preferable in a construction environment where workers typically do not have access to an overhead anchorage point.

3m dbi-sala fall protecton srl hercules slr

Click this image to view the full Fall Protection course overview.

The Hercules Training Academy is open with brand new classrooms and specialized training equipment enable us to provide an even higher quality of service than ever before when it comes to safety training. Through our Hercules Training Academy, we offer an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements.

In our Fall Protection course, you will learn: regulations, hazard assessments, pre-use inspections, calculating fall distance, donning a harness, selecting fall protection equipment, fall protection plans and procedures, selecting anchor points, ladders, elevated work platforms, suspension trauma

We can customize courses to fit your workplace’s specific needs. We are always willing to design a course (or multiple courses) specifically for you!



Fall for Safety | Tips for Autumn Yard Maintenance

Fall for Safety: Tips for Autumn Yard Maintenance

Who doesn’t love to watch the leaves on trees slowly turn from green to gold, orange, and red – It’s so beautiful! However, if you’re a home or business owner, your thoughts may have turned to cleaning up those very leaves once they fall—And all the other essential outdoor cleanup tasks that need to get done before the weather gets too cold and the snow begins.

You may not realize it, but many typical fall cleanup tasks can lead to injury if not done with the correct safety measures in place. We want to challenge everyone to fall for safety this year and keep safety in mind when performing their autumn yard maintenance.

Leaf Removal

Removing debris like fallen leaves is a task many people expect to be on their list once fall comes around. Raking leaves, in particular, is a task many of us probably perform without giving a second thought, or worrying about safety. But, if you come in from raking with a sore and achy body—Give these tips a try before simply chalking it up to the aging process.

Safety Tips for Raking

  • Avoid twisting your body while raking—Turn with your feet and above motions like throwing over your shoulder. These movements can overly strain your back muscles.
  • Use your knees when lifting and take a break if you start feeling any back pain. Never push your limits!
  • Try to vary movements as much as possible to avoid overuse of one muscle group
  • Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect your hands from blisters and skin from thorns or other debris.
  • Wear shoes with strong traction—Wet leaves can be slippery!
  • Stay hydrated and don’t overdo it—Whether you realize it or not, raking leaves is a workout. You may need to take breaks or slow your pace depending on your personal health and fitness—And that’s okay!

Leaf Blowing Safety

Remember, leaf blowers blow far more than just leaves. If you’ve used a leaf blower before, you’ve probably noticed how much dirt and debris gets kicked up along with the leaves you’re actually trying to move. If that dirt finds it’s way into your eyes, it’s going to be uncomfortable at best—But cause an eye injury at worst. Because of this, safety glasses or goggles should be worn at all times when operating a leaf blower.

Some other things to keep in mind when you operate a leaf blower are:

  • Inspect the blower before use to make sure controls, parts and safety devices are not damaged and are working properly.
  • Don’t point an operating blower in the direction of people or pets.
  • Make sure bystanders, including other operators, are at a safe distance. Turn the leaf blower off if you’re approached.
  • Do not use a leaf blower indoors (yep, we couldn’t believe it either!) it happens or in a poorly ventilated area.
  • Never modify a leaf blower in any way not authorized by the manufacturer.

Gutter Cleaning

Clearing your gutters is one of those “I gotta do it” tasks, especially since leaves have a tendency to clog it up. So, since it’s time to clean out the gutters—Let’s make sure you do it safely!

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands—Gutters can be full of dirty, rotting leaf debris that often contain bird or squirrel droppings that are ridden with bacteria. They can also prevent painful cuts from sharp debris in the gutter or an old metal gutter that my have developed sharp edges.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or goggles—You never quite know what may fly out of a gutter.
  • If you have to get on the roof to access part of the gutter wear non-slip shoes and ensure the roof is completely dry. Fall protection equipment should be used if your building’s roof is near or above 10ft off the ground—Check with your jurisdiction for requirements when working at heights.
  • Be mindful of power lines around you, especially if electrical wires connect to your building near your gutters.
  • Practice ladder & fall protection safety!

Ladder Safety Quick Tips

Check out this article for more in-depth safety tips.

  • Try to have someone with you while using a ladder—If this isn’t possible, always at least let someone know you will be working on a ladder and have them expect to hear from you once you’ve safely completed your task.
  • Take a moment to inspect both the ladder and the area where you’re using it—Make sure your ladder is in good working condition and doesn’t need any repairs.
  • Use a safe and sturdy ladder—We recommend one with a small shelf strong enough to hold a five-gallon bucket to collect gutter debris. If you do use a bucket, ensure it’s secured with a lanyard.
  • Maintain three-point contact by keeping two hands and one-foot, or two-feet and one hand on a ladder always.
ladder touch points how to climb a ladder
3-Point contact on a ladder.
  • Use the appropriate safety devices when needed (e.g., safety belt, fall restraint, etc.)
  • Do not “shift” or “walk” a stepladder when standing on it
  • Do not reach from the centre of a ladder (always climb down and move the ladder if you cannot reach).

Trimming Branches

As leaves fall from the trees, branches that may need trimming present themselves from hiding. Taking advantage of this time can be the best way to keep up with tree pruning along your property. If you’re looking for an easy how-to for pruning trees, check out this video!

Small, cracked or dying branches may be able to be removed by simply breaking them away, but larger branches will require tools like chainsaws for removal. NEVER operate a chainsaw without the proper training—Check out some more in-depth chainsaw safety tips here.

It’s always smart to use fall protection equipment when working at heights, so check in your jurisdiction for requirements in your area—However, it’s often required when working at heights 10-ft or higher.


  • Make sure you are properly trained on how to use any equipment being used. Some jurisdictions may have regulations about the type of training required for tree cutting and trimming—It’s always a good idea to get trained whether it’s necessary or not. (Training rarely hurts, but injuries do).
  • Before trimming a tree, inspect the area to identify possible hazards (e.g. power lines, broken or cracked limbs). Don’t use conductive tools near power-lines (e.g. certain ladders, pole trimmers).
  • Mark off your work area and prevent bystander access.
  • Inspect your fall protection equipment, lines and ladder before each use.
  • If climbing the tree, inspect the tree and its limbs for cracks and weakness before the climb.


  • Wear the right PPE for the job, like:
    • Leather gloves to protect your hands.
    • Hard hat to protect your head from any branches that may fall above you.
    • Safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from dust.
    • Ear protection to muffle loud noises coming from equipment.
    • Non-slip shoes
    • Pants or chaps with sewn-in ballistic nylon pads, preferably ones that extend to the beltline rather than ones that stop at the upper thigh as they provide extra protection.
    • Fall Protection – If working at a height (necessary if above 10ft), fall protection equipment like body belts, harnesses and lanyards should be used. Need fall protective equipment? We’ve got you covered!
  • Break small dead branches off by hand as you climb – Remove larger branches with the proper tools.
  • Be sure that you can see the cut you’re making, so you d not cut hand lines, safety ropes, etc. unintentionally.
  • Work with a partner – It’s always a good idea to work with another person who stays on the ground while you’re climbing. In the event of an emergency, both you and your partner should have training in CPR and first aid.


Safety at Stake: New MSA V-SERIES™ Fall Protection

msa v-series


The MSA V-SERIES harness line is now available!  Introducing the V-FLEX™, V-FIT™, and V-FORM™—each designed for your comfort and safety needs.

Focus on your work instead of your harness. Why V-SERIES? We have three reasons:

1. Exclusive racing-style buckle eliminates the need for chest straps, creating a closer, more comfortable harness 

2. Athletic cut contours the harness to the body for increased upper torso mobility

3. Pull-down adjustment allows wearer to easily and quickly make adjustments to get the right fit

The safest fall protection harness is the one you’ll actually want to wear. Each V-Series harness delivers exceptional comfort – so you can focus on your work, not your harness.


Exclusive racing-style buckle allows for a close, comfortable-fitting harness—Eliminating the need for bulky chest straps or cumbersome buckles.


Racing-style buckle creates an athletic cut, contouring the harness to the body for improved upper torso movement on the job. 


Pull-down adjustment allows you to quickly get the right fit that lasts throughout the work day.




So, what’s included in the MSA V-Series™? msa v-form series



Racing-style buckle

Athletic cut

Pull-down adjustment

Easy-to-inspect stitch patterns 

msa v-series


Has all the benefits of V-Form™, plus:

Body-conforming shoulder pad 

Coated webbing

Horizontal leg straps

Dedicated attachment point for Personal Fall Limiters 

msa v-series



Has all the benefits of the V-Fit™, plus: 

Thermoform shoulder pad designed for cooling

Leg padding

Swiveling hip juncture for mobility 

Integrated suspension 


MSA Safety Fall Protection Systems








Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

Fall Protection Training: don’t get left behind

Fall Protection Training: don’t get left behind

Fall protection and training for is easy to overlook when there’s a job to be done—who has time to strap on a safety harness? You do.

Worker at height with SRL

At Hercules SLR, safety is a priority in all areas of our company. We spoke with some experts around the office about fall protection safety training – think safety harnesses, self-retracting lifelines and anchorage lines. They all agree that equipment alone is not enough – workers must be trained to use it properly. Training should be engaging, hands-on and fun to have workers actually use this equipment.

We want workers and employers alike to be aware of fall protection’s importance and the difference the right training makes. Read on to discover tips from our safety experts that will make you and your employees want to use their fall protection gear.

Fall Protection Training: are you credible?

Credibility is a large aspect of effective training and communication—do you sit behind a desk all day? Do you climb a 12-foot ladder daily? Regardless of the words you say, who you are will effect the message you’re trying to deliver.

“I had a professor in University who was from Poland, and her Family had escaped from the Nazi’s during their reign – her experience gave her credibility when she taught us European history, and even as students it made us pay attention,” remarks Business Development Manager, Consultant and Safety Trainer & Inspector Lou Gould on the difference credibility makes.

Fall Protection Training: know your audience

It’s important to know that while there’s overlap, there are differences among the industrial trades—it’s important to know the differences and not generalize when explaining the importance of fall protection gear.

Says Gould “Once, I was at a meeting where the topic was roof workers safety. The guy who was giving the presentation was an electrician, but was only speaking from his experience. I noticed right away a lot of guys in the room ‘check out’ so to speak, since he wasn’t addressing their specific problems or issues. It’s important to know your audience, especially when you’re trying to get an important point across.”

Experience is a great teacher. He continues, “The classroom is a sharing experience with everyone you’re with. Personally, I am a story-teller, and I’ve found this makes a great environment to learn. Whether it’s a situation you’ve been in or just witnessed, being able to say ‘I’ve seen someone use this before and protect them’ tends to stick in everyone’s head better than reading straight from a text.”

Use industry-specific examples to show how fall protection gear will improve and enhance their daily work. For example, talking to roofers? Mention how slippery roofs become during inclement weather – something your audience relates to.

Fall Protection Training: risk management vs. risk communication

When you reflect on an incident, there are typically thousands of tiny moments that led to that one disaster. All are entirely preventable – nothing is random. However, explaining how a fallen wrench can lead to a fatality isn’t something all trainers can do.

In the safety industry, we talk about risk management all the time, but we never talk about risk communication. Risk communication is the ability to explain the process of an injury, how they can escalate and what is being done to mitigate or in worst-case scenarios, investigate and provide conclusions. In the safety industry, many trainers have extensive knowledge but are don’t deliver it in a way that makes their audience pays attention.

Hercules SLR employee at height with their safety harness

It’s not enough to say “an 8-lb wrench dropped can cause fatal injuries” – which is an approach many trainers take. Hercules SLR trainers know that reading out facts is not enough. It’s much more effective to say “an 8-lb wrench dropped from 200 feet above has 2,833 pounds of force per square inch – which is equal to a Clydesdale horse hitting a 1 square inch area.”

It’s important to explain causation when you emphasize the need for proper PPE equipment and fall protection training. Many workers have the perception that fall protection PPE and training is only essential for “big accidents” – think falls from height or worksite explosions. But the right training emphasizes PPE’s role in daily work.

Causation vs. Big Accidents

Help workers visualize common accidents that occur on worksites and the role causation plays in daily workplace safety. For example, the nursing profession has many different hazards to mitigate. A few factors that contribute are, long shifts, high-stress nature of the job, aggression in the workplace, high emotional environment, poor housekeeping and lifting at awkward angles. The stressors through the day can contribute to injury and low-productivity. Financially, employers and owners can expect to pay much more to repair or replace misused equipment, rather than taking measures to maintain it in the first place.

The proper equipment and training will reduce discomfort caused by misusing PPE & fall protection gear, while reducing worksite injury and accident and improving productivity.

Fall Protection Training: most importantly, make it fun

We hate to break it to you—but if you’re boring no one will listen to you.

Many Hercules SLR students that enroll are actually already certified riggers. Often, they’ll start to work on-site and realize they’re making too many errors, or they enroll in other rigging courses and realize their skill isn’t on par with their peers.

Going forward, a big trend is the transition to a blended-training model. Blended training involves both a practical and classroom/online component, with a focus on engaging, hands-on activities, demonstrations.

Our Aerial Work Platform Training course is a great example of this. We spend 3-4 hours in the classroom and cover theory, and then we operate machines all afternoon. Right now, industry trend is to complete an online module that before the practical, then students come to the facility and complete their final practical test. This gives our trainers more hands-on training with the students and equipment than is available with more traditional training models.

Hercules SLR Training

Hercules SLR offers high-quality safety training and certification courses. We’ll customize courses to fit your workplace’s specific needs, and we’ll provide training on-site or at a Hercules SLR facility.

We don’t just offer safety and fall protection training – we’ll inspect, repair and certify your equipment too. Have your inspection done with Hercules SLR and gain access to our exclusive asset management tool, CertTracker. CertTracker maintains inspection records, gives advance notice of inspection due dates and schedules service times – Consider it your tool for great safety compliance.

Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.