SAG-AFTRA is warning the stunt community about “knockoff” stunt harnesses that don’t meet industry standards and pose a threat to safety on the set. Used to suspend actors and stunt performers in the air, one of the phony harnesses already has failed, the guild reported. “Thankfully, no one was hurt,” it said.

“This SAG-AFTRA safety bulletin is an urgent advisory to alert you to these dangers and to remind everyone to be very diligent about the harnesses and other safety equipment used in the performance of stunts,” the guild said.

An approved stunt harness
Rex/Shutterstock

The imitation harnesses, the guild said, are labeled “Made in China” and “Made in Korea” and look very similar to those the stunt community has long used, but they are “built with sub-standard materials and are not rated for the loads and demands of stunt work.” The harness that failed was purchased at a store in Australia.

Load-testing of a fake harness, the guild said, showed that it failed when suspending as little as 566 pounds, when “other reputable harness suppliers advertise a minimum ultimate breaking strength of 4,000 pounds.”

The SAG-AFTRA Stunt & Safety Department and National Stunt Committee recommend the following:

  • Only purchase stunt or flying harnesses directly from known reputable suppliers that have open communication with their customers, experience serving the stunt community, long, successful and safe histories with harnesses, and that guaranty and warranty their products.
  • Never buy a used harness—especially from an online source or supplier.
  • Never buy a new harness online from any non-specialized site (for example, eBay or Amazon, etc.). Only purchase online from a known reputable supplier.
  • All stunt coordinators, stunt riggers and stunt performers should inspect all harnesses to ensure proper labeling is on all harnesses. If in doubt, do not use the harness until it can be inspected and certified for use. If certification is not possible, retire or preferably destroy the harness.