Like all pieces of safety sensitive PPE, a safety harness must be inspected before every use, by the person who is going to use it.
The following is a short refresher on how to perform a proper harness inspection in the field.
It isn’t a requirement to clean your harness before every inspection, but any built up dirt will make it harder to find defects in the components.
Please remember that if your harness fails on any of these points, it must be discarded appropriately as it is no longer safe for anyone to use.
Verify that the harness has its CSA label intact and is readable, as well as the type and weight classification for the harness.
Begin by placing one arm through the harness shoulder straps and hanging it from your forearm.
Inspect the metal components of the D-Ring to ensure that there are no nicks, bends, deformities, or corrosion.
Choose one of the four straps and perform an inspection of the webbing, looking for nicks, fraying, cuts, slices, burns or any signs of dryness or cracking.
Inspect any plastic or metal components on that strap length for breaks, nicks, bends, deformities, or corrosion
If your harness has a plastic clip to hang your lanyard off of and it is broken, that does not mean your harness has failed as it is an accessory hanger and not a safety component.
Repeat the same inspection process for the remaining three straps.
If you are using a personal lanyard, you must perform an inspection of that also. All lanyards must have a fully functioning lockable clip system, that is free from damage, corrosion, or bends, is easy to operate and springs closed by itself.
If the lanyard is webbed, use the same inspection method as your harness.
Look for the CSA label and weight rating
Inspect webbing and metal components
Ensure the shock absorber has not been deployed if found on the lanyard.
If you are using a steel lanyard, inspect all components for twisting, bulging, corrosion, deformities, broken strands, flats, or shiny sections that may show wear across a sharp surface
If you are using a retractable lanyard, ensure you perform a full inspection, also looking for:
Signs of damage to the drum
Verify the lanyard stops immediately with a hard tug
The unit recoils on its own
The webbing or steel lanyard must be inspected along its full length for the same signs of damage found on that style lanyard
A safety harness also has an extra requirement to be inspected annually by another qualified person. This may be performed by a third-party company, or someone inside your company who has received the appropriate training and instructor.
Remember that when you are selecting a harness and lanyard that they come in different weight classifications. An E4 is designed for weights between 100 and 254 lbs, and an E6 is for 200 to 386 lbs. This working weight doesn’t just include you, but your work clothing, equipment and tools.
Before you go out into a Working at Heights situation, ensure that all components of the Fall Protection System, including the anchor points, lifelines, rope grabs, or any other items used have been thoroughly inspected by someone competent on the jobsite and are in good working condition.
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