You Should Inspect Your Fall Protection Equipment
General Industry vs. Construction Industry
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has separate guidelines for both the construction and general industries for inspecting fall protection and safety equipment. In addition to the guidelines below, employers should have a competent person conduct safety harness inspection services at least once a year or more frequently for portions of the country that experience extreme weather conditions that could lead to premature wear of safety devices. Check out the video for more information on the recommended frequency of fall protection inspection.
How Often Should PPE Be Inspected for General Industry?
Though not part of OSHA’s mandatory guidelines, the organization does offer suggestions that include training employees in the importance of conducting inspections on their safety equipment, including fall protection devices, prior to each use.
How Often Do Safety Harnesses Need to Be Inspected for the Construction Industry?
How often do harnesses need to be inspected in the construction industry? OSHA says before every use. Workers need to examine their personal harnesses for signs of wear, deterioration and damage. The worker must discard any component or system that shows any defects.
OSHA Fall Protection Inspection Requirements
The biggest difference in using fall protection equipment between general and construction industries is the length of free fall the positioning system allows. For general industry, except window cleaners, the positioning system must pass a drop test of a 250-pound weight from a 4-foot fall, according to the general industry guideline 1910.140, subpart I. Fall arrest systems must prevent a 6-foot-long free fall in testing.
Fall protection for the construction industry requires workers to have a means of stopping their fall or preventing it whenever they work 6 feet above a lower level. Workers less than 6 feet above dangerous areas, such as moving engines or pulleys, must also use fall protection equipment.
However, because some construction sites have workers inspecting a site prior to installation of or after removal of fall protection systems, OSHA allows for exemptions of the fall prevention requirement in these cases. Unlike general industry where fall protection inspection training is a suggestion, it is a requirement in construction, according to part 1926.503 Subpart M.
Importantly, OSHA no longer allows workers to use safety belts, also known as body belts, as their sole means of personal fall arrest. However, you will still see these used as OSHA allows them to be a part of an overall positioning or restraining device that prevents falling more than 2 feet.
Preventative Maintenance for Personal Fall Protection Equipment
Preventative maintenance for personal fall protection equipment includes inspections prior to every use. These inspections look for signs of wear and damage to the system’s components. If you find any signs of damage, some components of the system can be repaired by the manufacturer or a manufacturer authorized repair center.
Preventing damage starts with using and storing safety harnesses, lanyards and other fall protection equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use or storage in extreme temperatures or moisture levels could lead to early wear.
Additionally, most manufacturers require that the equipment passes an annual competent person inspection and a daily pre-use inspection. Even if a safety harness appears intact and without problems, unseen wear may have already occurred. Using the device after the maker’s suggested time frame as well could lead to failure to protect a worker during a fall.
How To Conduct A Fall Protection Inspection
Prior to every use, you must conduct a safety harness and lanyard inspection. Additionally, the equipment must undergo a more thorough annual inspection from a trained professional. Here are the steps to follow when checking your system before each use:
1. Examine Metal Components
All metal components, such as D-Rings or hooks, must have intact construction without cracks, wear or sharp edges. Sharp points on these parts could damage other parts of the fall arrest system. Discard any metal parts that do not meet these requirements.
2. Look Over the Stitching and Webbing
The stitching that connects portions of the safety harness together could save your life. Loose stitches, tufts, broken strands or burned areas require you to replace the device. Additionally, check the webbing for signs of wear. Bend it to look for wear or loose threads. Carefully examine the entire length of the webbing and all stitching on the device.
3. Check the Ropes
The ropes and other cords that support fall arrest systems should not have frayed edges, loose strands or cut portions. If you notice any broken strands, immediately discard the rope. To prevent this problem, only use fall arrest ropes for personal fall protection and never as lifting or hoisting rope for cargo, tools or other loads.
In some cases, nylon or similar twisted ropes may develop kinks from normal use. Straighten out the rope after each use and store it flat to prevent this problem. As long as the rope does not have damaged strands or broken parts, you can continue using it.
4. Inspect Personal Fall Arrest System for Damage After a Fall
If a personal fall arrest system is used to stop a fall or sustains any type of load, pull it from use until it undergoes a thorough inspection by a qualified expert. The strain on the device caused by the fall may have resulted in the system experiencing damage that could prevent its future use.
5. Discard or Repair Damaged Parts or Safety Equipment
Do not be tempted to save time and effort by reusing damaged safety equipment without repair. Discard or properly repair any damaged fall arrest protection equipment to prevent risks of injury. If you discard the equipment, tag it as unusable to maintain OSHA compliance.
How Malta Dynamics Can Help
Malta Dynamics has the equipment you need to prevent falls. Stock up on lanyards, safety harnesses and more to have backup supplies if you find out you must discard your existing fall arrest devices. You can also build-your-own kits that allow you to gather everything you need for a personal fall arrest system.
While we sell equipment, we also make your task of examining your existing safety gear easier. Check out our fall protection inspection forms you can download for your annual safety equipment evaluations, or enlist our safety inspection services for basic on-site hazard analysis. You can also look over our safety resources, such as our page on fall protection.
At Malta Dynamics, we are professionals in supplying you with equipment to keep everyone on the worksite safe. For more information on how we can help, contact us today.
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