What does H.A.L.O. fix in safety harnesses for fall protection?

Safety harnesses used for fall protection have historically been attached to a safety line at the rear (dorsal). A significant reason for this is that sternal attachment causes violent neck and head hyper-flexion (whiplash) at the point of fall arrest.

H.A.L.O. logo

Unfortunately, dorsal attachment leaves the victim of an arrested fall suspended in a vertical position while they wait to be rescued. It is this vertical suspension which causes the onset of suspension trauma / suspension intolerance and puts the victims’ life at risk. However, the harness industry continues to supply product putting users at risk using solutions with major limitations to preventing a potentially fatal problem.

Current product “solutions” to avoid suspension trauma / suspension intolerance
  • the use of suspension trauma straps for the victim to stand in while suspended to push their legs against (if the user has some)
  • activation of self rescue devices by the victim (if they have one and if the device is suited to the height the victim is working at)
Dorsal fall arrest vertical incorrect

BUT – What happens if the fall arrest victim is incapacitated in some way – cannot deploy straps or self-rescue devices?

  • What if they are unconscious (may be the cause or the result of the fall)
  • What if they are injured (again, may be the cause or the result of the fall)
  • What if they are emotionally incapacitated because of the stress and anxiety of the moment

So…. let’s get logical and introduce a simple thought process change. What if we design something to protect the head and neck at the moment of fall arrest ?

Does that allow harness manufacturers a far wider scope to create sternally attached harnesses resulting in a more horizontal post fall arrest position? Of course it does.

Does that more horizontal position also reduce the potential onset of suspension trauma / suspension intolerance? Again, of course it does.

Hence the invention of H.A.L.O. neck and back support device for heights safety harnesses. A more robust and rounded fall protection system can now be designed.

Solution

Get the victim into a more horizontal position post fall arrest to stop gravity pooling blood in the lower extremities of the body.

How?
  • Provide neck and back support to reduce neck flexion at point of fall arrest.
  • This now allows use of sternal (front) attachment point.
  • Ensure harness design raises legs at point of fall arrest.
  • Harness design provides lanyard keeper to ensure work space in front of user is not obstructed during normal wear.
Sternal fall arrest horizontal correct

The three short videos below clearly demonstrate the near elimination of neck flexion (whiplash) in an arrested fall using a safety harness incorporating a H.A.L.O. and attached to a lifeline sternally. The videos are at various speeds and angles and carried out by Australian Emergency Services.

Note: Countries will have variations as to the maximum amount of horizontal level able to be designed into a harness. These restrictions are in place due to the old fashioned reliance on dorsal attachment. The closer to horizontal a victim can be when sternally attached in conjunction with raising of the legs, the less effect gravity can have on blood pooling.

Benefits to end user / purchaser / rescuers
Dorsal fall arrest vertical incorrect
  • Dramatically improved chance of fall arrest survival:
    • Closer to horizontal post fall arrest position.
    • Gravity now working for rather than against the victim.
    • Significantly more comfortable and less painful harness wear post fall arrest.
    • H.A.L.O. provides neck support post fall arrest to ensure airways are unobstructed.
    • Significant extension of time for rescuers to safely retrieve the victim – beneficial for both victim and rescuers
    • Safer transition to stretcher post rescue – already better positioned.
Sternal fall arrest horizontal correct
Dorsal fall arrest rear reach and visual incorrect
  • Instant benefits gained simply through the use of sternal attachment and H.A.L.O.
    • Significantly increased chance of self-rescue due to ease of reach to the tensioned lanyard now in front of the victim rather than behind.
    • Visual contact with attachment points assists in integrity of fall arrest system.
    • Overall increased fall protection as a system.

Although unusual circumstances occurred, the video below clearly demonstrates how the tree stand fall victim would have been in a better position for self rescue and reducing strangulation if he had been attached sternally.

Sternal fall arrest front reach and visual correct
Dorsal fall arrest neck and head support incorrect
  • H.A.L.O. provides neck support post fall arrest to ensure airways are unobstructed.
Sternal fall arrest head and neck support correct
Neck support in rope access / rescue work 1
  • Fatigue management in rope access and general rescue work is also provided through H.A.L.O. neck support
Neck support in rope access / rescue work 1

Occupational benefits provided by H.A.L.O. in fall protection

  • Provides working at heights companies with strengthened ability to address WH&S responsibilities of employees and contractors.
  • Reduces return to work turnaround time for victims of fall arrest.
  • Reduces associated return to work costs for employers.

Are you interested in adding H.A.L.O. to your harness models?