No matter how safe your fall protection is, you must conduct safety inspections regularly. If you want to know what to do for your fall safety equipment inspection and how often to conduct this task, find out more in this guide to safety and fall protection care.
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.
Though not part of OSHA’s mandatory guidelines, the organization does offer suggestions that include training employees on the importance of conducting inspections on their safety equipment, including fall protection devices, before each use.
Learn more: What kind of fall protection training do I need for my team?
How often do harnesses need to be inspected in the construction industry? OSHA says before every use. Workers must examine their personal harnesses for signs of wear, deterioration, and damage. The worker must discard any component or system that shows any defects.
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 before the installation of or after the removal of fall protection systems, OSHA allows for exemptions of the fall prevention requirement in these cases. Unlike the 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 includes inspections before 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 could also lead to failure to protect a worker during a fall.
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:
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.
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.
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 similarly 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.
If a personal fall arrest system is used to stop a fall or sustain 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.
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.
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 online or call us at (800) 494-1840.
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