Inspection Of Fall Protection EquipmentSafety should always be the number one priority on any job site. Taking the proper safety precautions and making sure employees are fully aware of all possible dangers is an essential part of running a successful business.
This is especially true when employees are working at heights where fall protection equipment can mean the difference between life and death. In this sense, ensuring that your company's equipment is well maintained and properly inspected is one of the most important things you can do to prevent accidents, injuries and potential lawsuits.
There is a reason that government safety regulations are so strictly enforced and that companies that don't follow these regulations can face such stiff penalties. It is solely the responsibility of the employer to create a safe work environment and to provide employees with the necessary tools and equipment to perform their tasks with as little risk as possible.
However, just buying the proper safety equipment isn't enough. You also need to make sure that all equipment is properly inspected. Even minor tears or other seemingly insignificant damage can be enough to cause the equipment to fail in case of a fall. This makes it vital that employees remember to fully inspect each piece of safety equipment before use.
Inspecting Your Safety Equipment
All fall protection devices and other safety equipment needs to be in good condition in order to function properly. A tiny tear in the webbing lanyard of a harness can lower its failure point by up to 40 percent, showing just how important it is to fully inspect the equipment each day.
One of the primary components of most standard fall arrest equipment is a shock-absorbing lanyard, which connects the body harness to the anchor point. In the event of a fall, this lanyard absorbs much of the energy from the fall and should help to prevent serious injuries. However, this shock-absorbing capacity can be severely reduced when the webbing becomes damaged. Unfortunately, the synthetic fibers used to create these lanyards can be quite susceptible to all of the following sources of damage.
- General wear and tear
- Exposure to paint, solvents, and other chemicals
- Dirt, grit, and grime
- Ultraviolet light
Due to the risk of catastrophic failure, these lanyards need to be inspected daily for any signs of surface or edge damage, cuts and tears or softening/hardening of the fibers. It's important that to take the time to both visually inspect and physically go over the entire surface with your hands in order to detect even tiny cuts or tears. The inspection should always be performed in a well-lit area, and it generally should take 5 to 10 minutes to perform a thorough inspection.
While these lanyards may be easy to visually inspect, most other fall protection equipment isn't nearly as easy to inspect and usually requires specialty testing equipment. This includes testing the strength of anchor points and inspecting welds, bolts, beams, clamps, etc.
Should an OHS inspector show up on your job site, he or she will want to see records documenting these inspections to prove that you've been maintaining your safety equipment as required by law.
Only a fully certified fall protection equipment inspector has the tools, skills and knowledge to do a proper inspection of every piece of equipment. This means it is vital that you either provide one or more employees with the required fall protection training or hire a professional inspector. Not only these inspections required by law, but they'll also go a long way towards ensuring that your employees and your business are protected from any potential accidents.