A personal fall arrest system should be inspected daily before each use and at least annually by a Competent Person. Depending on your environment, it may be necessary to have your Competent Person inspect your fall protection equipment more than once a year. If you are in a very hot or very cold climate, it might warrant that inspection more frequently.
The daily pre-use inspection is performed by the user of the Personal Fall Arrest System that day. It is a quick look at the safety harness, SRL, lanyard, etc. to ensure every piece is in working order. The Competent Person inspection is performed by someone who is trained and empowered to make decisions about safety products and practices for the company or job site. The Competent Person inspection is much more thorough, going over each product top to bottom to ensure safety and compliance of that item for up to one year following inspection.
There are many factors to consider before continued use of your harness. First, always be sure to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer; some require replacement even when the harness looks fine. This is your first step! If the label says it must be replaced after a specific date, then it's time to replace it regardless of the condition.
It’s critical to consider deterioration and the results of past safety equipment inspections. You should be inspecting your harnesses regularly before every use, and it should be thoroughly inspected by a competent person periodically to ensure it is still in safe condition for use. When inspecting your fall arrest equipment, take a good look at the material and the hardware. If anyone notes fading of the webbing or pitting of the metal components, it may be time to take the harness out of service. In addition, if any of the hardware and attachments, such as D-Rings, belts and buckles appear to be damaged or worn down, replace your safety harness. If your safety harness has been exposed to moisture, fumes or daylight that ultimately cause the nylon fibers to break down, it’s best to replace it.
It’s common for safety harnesses to experience normal wear and tear; just be sure that it is in safe condition before you use it.
There’s more, though.
When determining whether or not to replace your safety harness, consider the following:
- Is there a chance that your safety equipment is compromised? If so, replace it.
- Is there a chance that your safety harness been involved in a fall? If so, replace it.
Everyone in your organization who uses fall protection equipment must know that a safety harness needs to be replaced if it fails an inspection for any reason. In order to meet OSHA requirements, any type of equipment that does not pass inspection must be “withdrawn from service immediately” and “tagged or marked as unusable or destroyed.”