I have a harness from one manufacturer and a lanyard from another, am I okay to use them together?
INTEROPERABILITY: WHAT’S THAT?
Can I use one manufacturer’s harness with a different manufacturer’s lanyard? This concept is called ‘interoperability’ and the answer to the question is not as simple as “yes” or “no”. Even if tested to the same standard, that does not mean that company A’s harness is compatible with company B’s lanyard.
Manufacturers declare whether their products, and which specific products, can be used with other manufacturer’s components to a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS). The company’s stance is usually available on the company’s website or by request.
THE ANSWER IS IN THE TESTED STANDARDS
Malta Dynamics’ stance is that if another manufacturer meets the same current ANSI standard that our piece of equipment has been tested to, then it may be compatible with Malta Dynamics’ components if the Competent Person on site deems it safe and necessary.
A Competent Person can be a crew leader or supervisor, but most often a Competent Person is a Safety Manager or the person on site with the highest level of safety training. In most cases the Competent Person conducts the training of the Authorized Persons on site.
OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502 Subpart M Appendix C Section II states:
(c) “Component compatibility considerations.” Ideally, a personal fall arrest system is designed, tested, and supplied as a complete system. However, it is common practice for lanyards, connectors, lifelines, deceleration devices, body belts and body harnesses to be interchanged since some components wear out before others. The employer and employee should realize that not all components are interchangeable. For instance, a lanyard should not be connected between a body belt (or harness) and a deceleration device of the self-retracting type since this can result in additional free fall for which the system was not designed. Any substitution or change to a personal fall arrest system should be fully evaluated or tested by a competent person to determine that it meets the standard before the modified system is put in use.
WHAT IS A COMPETENT PERSON?
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.140 Subpart I Appendix C – Personal Fall Protection Systems Non-Mandatory Guidelines states:
(d) Component compatibility considerations. Ideally, a personal fall protection system is designed, tested, and supplied as a complete system. However, it is common practice for lanyards, connectors, lifelines, deceleration devices, and body harnesses to be interchanged since some components wear out before others. Employers and employees should realize that not all components are interchangeable. For instance, a lanyard should not be connected between a body harness and a deceleration device of the self-retracting type (unless specifically allowed by the manufacturer) since this can result in additional free fall for which the system was not designed. In addition, positioning components, such as pole straps, ladder hooks and rebar hooks, should not be used in personal fall arrest systems unless they meet the appropriate strength and performance requirements of part 1910 (e.g., §§ 1910.140, 1910.268 and 1910.269). Any substitution or change to a personal fall protection system should be fully evaluated or tested by a competent person to determine that it meets applicable OSHA standards before the modified system is put in use. Also, OSHA suggests that rope be used according to manufacturers’ recommendations, especially if polypropylene rope is used.
While OSHA tends to lean towards what to do on the job site application and the responsibility of the companies using it, the language in ANSI is more specific to the manufacturing of this equipment.
Combining pieces of equipment from different manufacturers is explained in ANSI Z359.6-2016 section 4 paragraph 4.2.2:
“Compatibility. All directly connected components of an active fall protection system shall be compatible, such that they perform as intended and cannot unintentionally disengage on their own during the use of the system or during a fall event. Equipment and hardware for all components of an active fall protection system shall be specified to provide compatible connections. Combining equipment from different manufacturers is permitted as long as the components are compatible.”
THINK FIRST AND TRUST THE MANUFACTURER
It is always safest to use products exactly as intended and use the manufacturer’s corresponding items. We know that cannot always be achieved. If you have the need to deviate from that, a Competent Person at your company should research and ensure the safety of the components working together. If there is any uncertainty, you should contact the manufacturer of both components.
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