How frequently should fall arrest equipment be replaced?

How frequently should fall arrest equipment be replaced?

When does fall arrest equipment require replacing?

This is one of the most asked questions regarding fall arrest equipment, especially from safety managers and QA managers.

Quite simply the decision to replace fall arrest equipment should be based on its condition before consideration is given to a predetermined expiry date.

Damage and wear can render the equipment ineffective, regardless of its age.

 Fall arrest equipment plays a critical role in ensuring safety and preventing injuries. It is important to assess the condition of the equipment regularly to keep workers safe. At Absafe Group, we strongly encourage workplaces to provide training, adhere to guidelines, and invest in high-quality equipment.

 Is there an expiration date for height safety equipment?

Fall safety equipment does not have mandated expiration dates because the condition, rather than time, determines its usability. This is recognized by organizations such as OSHA and ANSI, who do not enforce specific timeframes for equipment use. Even manufacturers of fall arrest equipment do not recommend a retirement date.

However it can be common practice to set an arbitrary lifetime for the equipment to ensure against hidden or unseen factors such as accumulated damage, uv damage etc.

Which is all well and good but could end up creating a false sense of security and lead to the use of relatively new but unsafe systems. Instead, the equipment should be regularly inspected and assessed, irrespective of its age.

 What factors impact the usability and safety of fall arrest equipment?

 Several factors can affect the condition of fall arrest equipment:

·         Exposure to UV rays from sunlight can cause the fibres of a roof safety harness to deteriorate.

·         Tears or stretching of a harness can create weak spots.

·         Exposure to paints and chemicals can weaken synthetic materials. It is important to follow the manufacturer's guidelines to promptly remove such substances, if possible.

·         Acids and strong chemicals can cause metal components to lose strength or deteriorate.

·         Improper storage can result in unnecessary stretching, leading to misshapen and damaged equipment.

·         If a harness has been involved in a fall arrest incident, it must be immediately retired. It should never be used again, regardless of its age or condition prior to the impact.

 Five inspection tips for fall arrest equipment:

 When inspecting fall arrest harnesses and systems, a thorough assessment should be conducted to determine their condition. Any signs of damage indicate that the equipment is unfit for use. Ignoring these signs during an inspection can have severe consequences. Here are five factors to consider when assessing the condition of a fall arrest harness:

1.      Inspect all metal and plastic components, ensuring that buckles function correctly without cracks or corrosion, indicating damage.

2.      Assess stitched and webbed components for UV damage, tears, broken threads, overstretched harnesses, or abrasions.

3.      Check the legibility of labels. Ensure that they are attached securely and can be easily read.

4.      Examine load indicators for ripped stitching or separation. If present, the harness should not be used.

5.      Document the inspection. Clearly document the assessment of the harness and consider using ready-made log sheets designed for specific harnesses to ensure a comprehensive evaluation.

 If any damage is identified during the inspection, the equipment should not be used as its safety may be compromised. While there is no definitive answer to the question of how often fall arrest equipment needs to be replaced, the condition of the equipment should be the determining factor. Conducting thorough assessments before each use ensures the safety of you and your team when working at heights.