As an employer, it's your responsibility to provide proper fall protection equipment for worker safety. The specific type of equipment that you need, and the height requirements you need it for, varies by industry But if you’re working at height, fall protection is essential. Not only should the equipment you provide be suited for your industry’s safety standards and sized to fit your workers properly, but it should also be in good working order. If your equipment is more than a few years old, or it’s already seen a fall, it might be time to replace it.
What’s the Standard Safety Harness Expiration?
PPE isn’t like perishable food in your fridge or pantry that has an expiration date. Mandated expiration dates could cause complacency among workers or companies that might cut corners to save time or money or wrongly assume that a newer harness might be “good” for another few years. While some manufacturers have guidelines for inspection and replacement, there is no such thing as a mandated expiration date on fall protection harnesses, not even from OSHA or ANSI. You might know of a five-year expiration guideline, which was put into place under ANSI/ASSE A10.32. However, this was removed in the 2012 revised standard, which instead states that safety harness expiration is determined through regular inspections and by adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Care and Keeping of Safety Harnesses
A lot of job site conditions can affect the lifespan of your harness, and proper care and use can keep it functional for longer. Any fall protection or tower climbing equipment that was damaged in a fall arrest or impact event must be immediately removed from service and destroyed, even if it looks fine—it’s designed to protect you exactly once. Otherwise, be mindful of the particular worksite conditions that can cause harnesses to degrade:
● Snags or tears from protruding objects
● Coats of paint, caustics, acids, or other chemicals
● Excessive exposure to sunlight or UV rays
● Improper storage methods
Safety Harness Inspection
Safety harnesses must be inspected for defects each time they’re used, both by the wearer before they put it on and in intervals of no more than six months by a competent, specially trained inspector. A harness that hasn’t been formally inspected within six months should be taken out of service until a formal inspection can be performed. Manufacturers put an inspection tag on all harnesses that allows the recording of the date and inspectors name or initials to keep track of this activity. When inspecting your harness, make sure you’re looking for any:
● Cuts, fraying, or other damage in the webbing and stitching
● Signs of damage on metal or plastic components
● Ripped or torn stitching on the load indicators
● Presence and legibility of all labels
● Completed log sheets and other inspection-related paperwork
PK Safety Fall Protection Equipment
Regardless of your industry, if you’re working at height, you’re going to need the right fall protection gear. If it’s time to replace or buy more safety equipment, PK Safety can help. We’ve been in the safety business for decades and have the expertise to help you find the equipment you need in the brands you trust. For more information, contact a safety expert online or call 800.829.9580.