Harness used for lighting...?


Well-Known Member
My school has, apparently, ordered harnesses for use by lighting guys in the catwalks. They should come in the next week. As head "guy in the catwalks" I was elated, especially for our our two theaters, which are, to say the least, bad. I just realized however, I have no idea how to use said harnesses, and I don't trust my teachers enough to not get a second opinion. So if anyone can point me in the direction of any harness FAQ, or anything, that'd be much appreciated. (I'd do google, but I am unsure of the variance between the lighting world and the recreational world.)

Thanks, Charlie.


CB Mods
Well, use of fall safety gear is no small matter, and a harness is only part of a system. I don't think that there are many people on the boards here who will tell you how you should use your safety systems because we don't want to be accountable in any way if you were to get hurt taking our advice. This is the same reason why if you go into an outdoors store to buy a climbing harness they won't tell you how to put it on when you try it on.

In general your fall safety system should consist of 4 basic things:
1) Some kind of connection to a structural member of your building, this can be a safety line that runs the length of your catwalk that you clip onto, or clipping on to a structural member with the appropriate equipment.
2) Your harness. For safety work generally this should be a full body harness which is rated for fall arrest.
3) A tether from your harness to the safety line or structural member. Usually this wants to be a decelerator.
4) You and common sense. Even with safety gear you should not do anything that doesn't feel comfortable, or that doesn't seem safe. The best safety gear is the gear that never ends up being used.

I will not tell you how to use or setup any of this equipment for the reasons that I stated before.


Active Member
You should have to attend an OSHA fall protection class before being expected to proficiently use a harness. It is a short 2-3 hour class and will go over how to use the harness, how to care for it, what to tie off to, etc... It is actually required under OSHA requirements, but I have never seen it in the entertainment world. I worked as a commercial electrician and had to take the class every year. And, according to the class, it is an OSHA requirement that you have a harness on and be tied off to a suitable structure whenever you are on anything above 4 feet off the ground. This includes being in a lift.

Most unions and touring companies that I have worked with require their staff to wear harnesses, but I have never seen anyone in a harness in a high school, college, or community theater. As a matter of fact, I have focused lights several times on home made 2x4 ladders that reached from the deck up to the electric pipes and was told to hold onto the pipe as they move the ladder with me on it.


Well-Known Member
Oops! Sorry guys to put you in that position. It hadn't even occurred to me at the time, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for that OSHA idea by the way. I'll see if there are any classes starting soon.


Well-Known Member
I second the OSHA suggestion. I also have run into groups through google searches that come and set-up/install/train people in fall equipment. I can't remember where that was (and I have an exam to take shortly, so I can't try to re-find it, sorry), but a search of google should give some hints.

Does the person who ordered these harnesses know anything about fall safety? Knowing the way schools are often run, I would double (or triple) check anything that was purchased, to make sure that it is safe and authorized for what you plan to do with it.

Good luck, and safe climbing!


Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
If you guys are ordering a system (harnesses PLUS anchors and miller lines and other fall protection stuff)--well someone has to (well--they SHOULD, in a perfect world) professionally install it and ensure its done right--its not something that any school can install. A lateral line or retractable lifeline system and so forth to clip into---those guys who install it should give you a safety course in its proper use and safety. If your school is just ordering gear and expects that to solve whatever problem you have--and not having a professional instal it--I would be concerned.

Just cause you have a lanyard and harness on does not mean you just wrap it around the nearest piece of steel or whatever and consider yourself "safe"..it has to be used in conjunction properly with the right equipment. Fall arrest and safety systems of that nature are often spec'd directly for each venue and its use and is nstalled by a professional rigging or fall-arrest company like Eastern or Sapsis...

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Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
Who was the gear ordered through? Perhaps they can be hired to come give you proper training.


Well, now that you are getting proper fall arrest equipment, don't get lazy and not use it. It can be a pain snice the harness will get uncomfortable after long periods of time and the leash will always get in the way. It still beats becoming a paraplegic for the rest of your life. I'm not afraid of falling, I'm afraid of living through the fall.

Matt McCormick

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