Part of maintaining company compliance with ANSI Z359.14 fall safety standards involves regular inspection of self-retracting lifelines (SRLs). While it's good practice for workers to inspect their fall safety equipment every day before heading up to work, more exhaustive scrutiny needs to be completed by a competent person during regularly scheduled times during the year to maintain compliance.
Part of the requirement to be compliant with this voluntary general industry standard is that written or electronic records of these inspections be kept on file for the entire service life of the unit. Luckily everyone in construction, working for utilities, and in light, medium, and heavy industry loves paperwork .
The frequency of inspection depends upon how often the particular SRL is used. SRLs that are employed for infrequent inspection and occasional maintenance are considered "light use" fall protection. Rescue and confined space entry SRLs may also fall into this category. In general this equipment tends to be stored in relatively clean environments and isn't subjected to situations that would rapidly deteriorate the essential safety mechanisms of the devices. Inspection of these devices by a certified competent person needs to be conducted annually. Additionally, the SRL needs to be taken out of service and sent in for a factory-authorized inspection at least every 2-5 years, but not longer than is required by the manufacturer. This is a pretty wide range of time, and your company will need to be aware of the manufacturers recommendations.
Moderate to heavy use is the next category defined by ANSI. They consider this to be SRLs used in transportation, residential roofing and construction, general utilities work, and other areas where fall protection is used regularly, but not in high heat or in extremely dirty environments. The fall protection in this category is used with greater frequency and it stands to reason inspections will happen more often. In this case inspections by the competent person should happen semi-annually to annually, and factory inspections are required every 1-2 years. Again the interval for the factory inspection cannot be longer than the intervals required by the manufacturer.
Severe to continuous use is probably the easiest to understand. If you are working in one of these environments, you know it. ANSI considers commercial construction, mining, and oil and gas production to fall into this category, though there are clearly others. The work environments are defined by either extreme hot and cold temperatures (or both), dirty conditions that can degrade the fundamental materials that make up the fall protection, and harsh storage conditions. SRLs in this category are used all the time, and they need to have the highest degree of inspection because they are the most likely to be involved in a fall, and the most likely to sustain damage during day to day use and malfunction.
Inspection of SRLs used in severe conditions or under continuous use must be inspected by a competent person quarterly to semi-annually, and they must be taken out of service and sent for their factory inspections at least annually.