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Class E Harnesses: what you need to know

If you or your crew uses harnesses on a regular basis, it’s extremely important to understand the differences between the CSA classes of harnesses. We covered the key things you need to know about Class P work positioning harnesses and now we’re exploring what you need to know about Class E harnesses.

Class E Harnesses

Class E harnesses are designed for confined space entry and retrieval. This style of harness has one attachment point located on each shoulder strap to facilitate upright entry and/or retrieval from a confined space. This is done by attaching the egress shoulder D rings to the snap hooks on a spreader bar which is attached to a winch or three-way self-retracting lifeline (SRL) that helps allow a person to remain upright during rescue from small, tight spaces. A winch is used to lower a worker into a tight space or hole and then to retrieve them from that space. A three-way SRL would be used in a situation where a worker is able to get into the space on their own, but allows for retrieval via a tripod or davit arms if they slip or fall within the space. 

Defining confined spaces

An area must meet three key characteristics in order to be considered a confined space:  

  1. The area is large enough to enter but access and egress is limited. Entry to a vessel may require descending through a hatch or crawling into the space.
  2. The area is at least partially enclosed and has limited or restricted means for entry or exit.
  3. The area isn’t designed or intended for continuous human occupancy. If the space was not designed for people to work inside for long periods of time, it might not possess the conditions needed to support human life and could present hazards beyond access and egress. For example, a duct system is considered a confined space because a worker could remain inside of it for a few hours.

Common examples of areas where confined spaces are often found:

  • - Wastewater treatment plants
  • - Manholes
  • - Tank
  • - Pump stations
  • - Sewer systems
  • - Ovens
  • - Boilers
  • - Elevators

Confined spaces vs. restricted spaces

In order to be designated a confined space, it must meet the all three of the above characteristics that define a confined space. Restricted spaces can be similar to confined spaces but the key difference with a restricted space is that a worker only has difficulty getting in or out of the space. For example, an empty in-ground swimming pool meets confined space characteristics but is restricted space because the only real hazards are surrounding how to get in and out of it.

For more resources on confined spaces, please visit to read the new whitepaper and infographic.

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