Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best safety harnesses

A safety harness is an essential tool for people who work at great heights or in dangerous situations where a fall could prove injurious or deadly. The harness fits the body snugly and attaches to cables that help stop the wearer from falling if they were to accidentally slip. While all safety harnesses sold today meet certain safety standards, that doesn’t mean they’re all the same.

The right safety harness for you depends largely on how you intend to use it. There are different harnesses designed for different industries and applications, and it’s crucial that you understand these distinctions. Here’s a short guide to walk you through the important factors you must think about when choosing a safety harness, so you can find one that will keep you both comfortable and safe. We’ve included several of our top recommendations for your consideration, too.

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Some safety harnesses include a tool belt, so you don’t need to bring your own with you.

Key considerations

The three most important things to focus on when choosing a safety harness are the safety certification, the type of work it will be used for, and how comfortable it is to wear.

Safety certification

Any full-body safety harness that you purchase should have American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z359.11-2014 certification. This outlines the requirements that all full-body safety harnesses must meet in order to be considered safe. Most safety harness manufacturers should share this information on their website or product pages, but if you don’t see it listed, you can contact the manufacturer to ask if the harness you’re interested in has this certification.

Type of work

Certain jobs require special safety harnesses with advanced features. For example, welders should go with flame-retardant, nonconductive safety harnesses to prevent burning slag from compromising the integrity of the harness. Construction safety harnesses can usually hold more weight because the wearer needs to hold tools. These harnesses usually have more D rings as well to help you better position yourself to do your work. Then, there are high-visibility safety harnesses that are ideal for working near traffic or in other areas where being seen is crucial to your safety. Consider the types of tasks you intend to use the safety harness for and let this guide your choice.


Comfort might not seem as important as safety when choosing a safety harness, but the two often go hand in hand. A comfortable safety harness is more likely to be worn snugly and correctly, which helps workers stay safe.

A comfortable safety harness has padding to help keep rough straps from digging into the skin. Padding also helps the harness hold its shape better so it’s easier to put on, and it provides an extra layer of protection in case of a fall. If you intend to work outside in warm weather, be sure you choose a harness with breathable padding so it doesn’t make you overheat. You might also want to invest in a safety harness with removable padding so you can wash the padding between uses.

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For your safety
Some worry about the integrity of aluminum safety harnesses, but these must meet the same safety standards as the steel ones, so you can feel confident that one will support weight up to the limit of the harness.

Safety harness features

Here are some other features you should think about when choosing a safety harness.


Safety harnesses are adjustable, but that doesn’t mean that one size fits all. Most manufacturers produce harnesses in several sizes, so you can choose one that fits you correctly. The harness should rest snugly against your body without being so tight as to be uncomfortable. Check with the manufacturer for a sizing guide and use this to determine which size you should order. If you’re ordering multiple safety harnesses, size each one for the individual who will be wearing it.


If you’re going to be doing quite a bit of climbing or wearing your safety harness for extended periods of time, weight could be an issue. A harness that’s too heavy might become uncomfortable over time. In this case, choose a harness that weighs as little as possible without compromising safety. Reach out to the manufacturer if it doesn’t list any information about the weight of the harness.

One way to reduce weight is to choose a harness that uses aluminum instead of steel hardware. However, this could raise the price of the harness because aluminum components are more expensive than their steel counterparts.

Ease of use

Your safety harness should be simple to put on and adjust. This largely comes down to the type of connection points it has. There are three main types: tongue buckles, pass-through buckles, and quick-connect buckles.

Tongue buckles function like a belt. Once you’re strapped in, you don’t need to worry about the straps working loose. However, it takes a little more time to buckle yourself into a harness with tongue buckles.

Pass-through buckles are made up of two metal plates. One of these plates passes through the other to hold you in place. Harnesses with these types of buckles are usually the most affordable, and they’re fairly easy to use.

Quick-connect buckles are similar to the buckles on vehicle seat belts. These harnesses are a little more expensive than the other types, but they’re popular because it takes almost no time to buckle yourself into the harness.

D rings

D rings are small metal rings on the safety harness where you attach lanyards to help catch you in the event of a fall. Depending on the type of harness you choose, yours could have anywhere from one to six D rings. More D rings can help you to better position yourself while you work, but it’s up to you to determine how many you’ll actually need. If you’ll be doing quite a bit of climbing, more is usually better.

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Even the best safety harness can’t adequately protect you if it doesn’t fit properly. Always check the sizing chart when purchasing a new safety harness and test the fit before using it.

Safety harness prices

Safety harnesses range in price from around $35 to over $400. You don’t need to worry about big differences in safety among them because they should all meet safety standards. But a more expensive harness might have more padding, making it more comfortable to wear, or it might have aluminum hardware to help reduce weight. You can expect to pay more if you’re buying a specialty harness, such as one with flame-retardant materials designed for welders. You can expect to spend at least $100 to $300 on one of these. If you don’t need any special features, you should be able to find a harness that suits you for less than $100.


  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Do this to make sure you’re attaching the safety harness correctly.
  • Buy the right size. If the safety harness doesn’t fit snugly against your body, it isn’t tight enough. Purchase a smaller size instead.
  • Suit the fit to the season. Keep in mind that you might need to expand your harness in winter so it can accommodate the extra winter clothing.
  • Check the harness before each use. Always check the integrity of the safety harness before putting it on to make sure nothing is frayed or broken.
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Expert Tip
A safety harness with removable padding is a smart choice if you’re going to be working in the hot sun where too much padding could cause overheating.

Other products we considered

The Guardian Premium Edge Safety Harness is designed for construction workers. It has a padded waist belt for maximum comfort and D rings on the hips to help you easily position yourself while you work. There are five points of adjustment and three sizes to choose from, so most people should be able to find one that fits comfortably. It includes a slide-on tool belt, too, so you can have all your tools within easy reach while you work. Users are pleased with how comfortable the harness is and how easy it is to put on. The WELKFORDER Industrial Safety Harness is a nice budget option that doesn’t compromise on safety. It’s ANSI certified and can support up to 310 pounds. The dorsal D ring is there to catch you if you fall, while the two hip D rings help keep you in position while you work. Some users say it’s a little difficult to figure out how to put it on at first, but once they figured it out, the harness was secure and comfortable.

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If you notice any loose straps on your safety harness, stop what you’re doing and tighten them immediately.


Q. How long does a safety harness last?
While some say you shouldn’t use a safety harness for more than five years, this isn’t always the case. You should base your decision on the condition of the harness rather than the length of time since purchase. Always inspect the safety harness before using it to be sure that it’s still in good condition.

Q. Can I write on my safety harness?
This is generally not a smart move. It’s possible that a pen tip or something in the ink could cause the webbing to degrade over time. Ink or paint might also make it more difficult to notice damage to the harness during inspection.

Q. How should I store my safety harness?
If the harness has removable padding, you should wash this periodically or after every use, as you see fit. Store the harness in a cool, dry place away from UV light or chemicals that might degrade the material.

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