The Complete Guide to Bosun Chairs: Selection, Safety, Rigging & More

Working safely at height poses immense challenges. Efficient aerial access enables tasks impossible from the ground but also brings risks. As more specialized elevated jobs emerge across countless sectors demand has soared for stable yet versatile lifting solutions. This is where the versatility and security of bosun chair rigging have truly proven its worth.

A bosun’s chair, also known as a boatswain’s chair is an invaluable piece of equipment that enables users to work aloft on boats, buildings, bridges and more while securely suspended from above.

This comprehensive guide presents essential tips for selecting, rigging and using quality bosun chairs to maximize workplace productivity without compromising safety. Take a seat and read on!

Source: Amazon

What is a Bosun Chair?

A bosun’s chair consists of a reinforced seat platform suspended by rope or webbing straps. They allow climbing aloft while maintaining a safe and stable seated position for working with both hands free.

The seat section features a high back side guards and multiple strap attachments to customize the fit securely around the user. The strong fabric supports tool bags, pouches and holsters to keep equipment close at hand.

When rigged properly with shock-absorbing ropes or slings, a bosun chair provides much more comfort and control than basic climbing harnesses that hang users vertically. They are designed for temporarily lifting workers up structures from boats to buildings.

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Common Uses of Bosun Chairs

Bosun chairs serve countless lifting and suspension applications:

  • Accessing boat masts for inspections and sail repairs
  • Painting and maintenance on bridge structures
  • Window cleaning and high rise building maintenance
  • Tree care including pruning and harvest operations
  • Utility and telecom tower repairs
  • Theatrical rigging for aerial acrobatics and stunts
  • General construction and industrial access

Any high structure needing temporary lift access can benefit from the stable versatility of a well-equipped bosun chair!

Also read: Is the Fluff Daddy Chair Worth the Hype? An Honest Review

Key Features of Quality Bosun Chairs

With countless working at height situations suited to bosun chairs models come in all shapes and sizes. But the highest quality chairs consistently showcase these essential features:

  • Durable fabric seat and back straps
  • Supportive foam cushion and side padding
  • Marine-grade stainless steel connection points
  • Multiple lashing points for tools and accessories
  • Several large storage pouches and holsters
  • Full body fall arrest attachments
  • High strength suspension slings and ropes
  • Compliance with national safety standards
Source: Practical Boat Owner

Choosing the Best Bosun Chair

With such a wide variety of bosun chair designs available selecting the right model for your needs is crucial.

Consider these key factors when deciding:

Weight Capacity

Chair platforms support working loads of 300 to 500+ pounds. Determine your all-up weight including tools for proper capacity.

Seat Size

The ideal seat platform fits you comfortably while allowing some tool storage space. Larger seats facilitate more gear but cost maneuverability.

Suspension Type

Webbing straps easily adjust to users of all sizes. Wire rope cradles provide exceptional durability over the long haul.


Look for chairs with integrated tool bags, pouches and lashing points to customize for specialized equipment.

Compliance Standards

Legitimate bosun chairs meet various regional regulations like OSHA, ANSI or CE. This guarantees reliable performance and safety.

Reputable Brands

Stick with proven brands that specialist riggers trust for their name brand craftsmanship and responsive customer service.

Shopping for a bosun chair that meets professional work requirements takes some thoughtful research. But the improved comfort, safety and productivity soon pays off!

Source: Bosun’s chair

Must Have Bosun Chair Accessories

While reputable bosun chairs come well equipped for general usage the right accessories customize them to suit unique work environments.

Must-have add-ons include:

Seat Pads: Extra dense foam cushions relieve pressure during long periods aloft.

Suspension Spreader Bars: Prevent uprights from collapsing inward if one fails.

Protective Covers: Shielded padded layers prevent chair damage during transport and storage.

Tool Tethers: Retractable cables secure essential tools like pliers and wrenches.

Fall Arrest Kits: Some jurisdictions require redundant connections for fall protection.

Trauma Straps: Simplifies rescue by allowing easy reconnection of fall arrest lanyards if conscious.

Helmet Visors: Tinted plastic shields provide solar glare protection without limiting visibility.

Two Way Radio Interface: Enables seamless communication with ground crews.

Must read: Best Lounge Chairs for Back Pain

Bosun Chair Safety Essentials

Secure Anchor Points: Rigging failures cause most bosun chair accidents. Anchor only to structural points rated over 5 times the rigged weight. secondary lines.

Redundant Suspension: Twin leg bridles prevent catastrophic collapse. Also connect independently to structure as

Total Fall Protection: Attach a shock absorbing lanyard between the main fall arrest dorsal D-ring on your harness and reliable anchor point. No exceptions!

Frequent Inspection: Visually check all chair and rigging components before each ascent for signs of wear, fraying or damage.

Clear Communication: Agree on whistle or hand signals for controlling ascent/descent and emergencies. Confirm understanding before proceeding aloft.

Established Rescue Plan: Ensure prompt response by anchoring haul lines and having equipment for rope rescues onsite. Pre-rig secondary climb systems if feasible.

With Advance planning, safety remains the top priority when working aloft in a bosun chair. Never compromise established precautions under deadline pressures at height!

How to Use a Bosun Chair Safely

Using a properly equipped bosun chair is straightforward. But working aloft demands a high degree of responsibility and care at every step of the operation. Here are some best practice usage tips:

Pre-ascent Checks

  • Don harness with all buckles and webbing correctly fastened
  • Ensure all chair components are undamaged
  • Connect to compliant fall arrest anchors
  • Verify dragging straps will not snag during ascent
  • Test radio and helmet headset communication with the ground operator

Ascending Procedures

  • Board seat cautiously to avoid falling
  • Affix tool tethers, glasses, and helmet
  • Confirm enough ballast weight for stability
  • Request hoist and stop if chair contacts structure
  • Detach fall arrest only after securing work anchors

Working Aloft Protocols

  • Pause lifting before surge stops to reduce swing impacts
  • Keep legs, arms and accessories inside the chair perimeter when moving
  • Lean away from towers when rotating to prevent pinch hazards
  • Take micro-breaks every 20-30 minutes to stand and stretch
  • Stay alert for weather changes including wind and lightning risks

Controlled Descent Best Practices

  • Stow all loose gear securely before descent
  • Keep an eye on obstruction hazards below
  • Attach fall arrest lanyards before any rigging transfers
  • Use ballast counterweight if needed for stability
  • Keep legs/arms inside until grounded
  • Inspect entire chair for defects to avoid continued usage if compromised

With careful operation, bosun chairs provide stable work access anywhere ladders and scaffolding prove unfeasible. But rushing even minor details when suspended aloft multiplies accident potential.

Inspecting and Maintaining Bosun Chairs

Any equipment exposed to outdoor working conditions requires careful inspection and maintenance to reach full life expectancy. Bosun chairs prove no exception.

Before and after each use

  • Check the fabric seat, straps and back for rips, tears, or UV damage
  • Verify structural connections remain straight, clean and tight
  • Confirm emergency descent components function properly
  • Ensure pouches hooks and pockets sit flush with no snag hazards

Monthly in depth inspections

  • Smooth any frayed webbing strands with flame-retardant sealant
  • Lubricate side release buckles if slow latch engagement noticed
  • Use leather cleaner and vinyl protectant on all fabric sections
  • Confirm durable stitching with no loose threads or gaps
  • Replace worn shock-absorbing ropes and slings proactively

Annual recertification

  • Thorough overhaul by certified rigging inspector
  • Testing of all weight bearing components and anchors
  • Documentation of passed inspection with updated ID tags
  • Clearing of backlogged repair requests

Remember, when working at height equipment faults prove catastrophic. Follow all manufacturer guidance for servicing chairs in use. Remove compromised chairs from inventory immediately to prevent a potential tragedy.

Safe Bosun Chair Storage

Proper storage between jobs ensures equipment longevity and reliability when needed again.

Consider these tips:

  • Allow to fully air dry before packing away if wet
  • Brush off any dirt, sap or debris stuck to the fabric
  • Detach suspension ropes and slings if feasible
  • Maintain any assigned identification numbers
  • Store with adequate padding in clean, dry, dark conditions

For additional protection during transport, collapse and insert the chair into a well-labeled padded storage bag or case. Shielding from UV exposure twists and crushing impacts leads to a longer chair lifespan.


Bosun chairs enable crucial accessibility for overhead tasks too unstable for ladders. When rigorously equipped, carefully inspected and properly operated, they empower low-impact suspended access on worksites ranging from sailboats to skyscrapers.

Working comfortably aloft requires selecting reputable chair models and components suited to the job scope. Skimping on quality jeopardizes not only efficiency but also user safety. Consult closely with certified rigging professionals and follow all safety procedures without exception.


How much weight can quality bosun chairs support?

Industrial models support over 300 pounds, with heavy duty versions rated beyond 500 pounds depending on suspension type.

What standards regulate bosun chair design and testing?

Legitimate chairs meet safety standards like OSHA, ANSI Z359 or CE EN795 confirming reliable performance. Retroreflective tape also improves visibility.

Can bosun chairs operate in adverse weather conditions?

Avoid using chairs in high winds or storms with lightning. Gusts over 35mph risk loss of stability and control. Descend immediately if conditions deteriorate aloft.

What causes most bosun chair failures?

Over 70% of failures trace to improper rigging, faulty anchors or lack of redundancy. Never hoist from unrated points or compromise inspection protocols even under deadline pressures.

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