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Inspection of safety harnesses and lanyards

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QUESTION: 

Is there a requirement in law to change safety harnesses and shock absorbing lanyards every year?

ANSWER:

The law gives no arbitrary time limits for changing such equipment. However, the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 (as amended) require employers to maintain fall arrest equipment in good repair, including appropriate replacement.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require that equipment which is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations should be inspected at suitable intervals, and each time that exceptional circumstances, which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the work equipment, have occurred.

This is to ensure that health and safety conditions are maintained and that any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time.

Your risk assessment should take working conditions into consideration when drawing up your safe system of work and your safe system of work must include an inspection regime to check the condition of your equipment.

Advice from the manufacturer should be followed regarding any shelf live or usage but it is your responsibility to ensure equipment is renewed before the safety of any person is jeopardised, due to the condition of the equipment.

As a general guide, HSE advice is that anchorages for fall arrest should be inspected at least every 12 months and energy absorbing lanyards at least every 6 months or, if used in arduous environments, every 3 months.

We have a guidance leaflet INDG367 - Inspecting fall arrest equipment made from webbing or rope File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat -  

 http://72.14.205.104/custom?q=cache:lFSi5cVVPM8J:www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg367.pdf+INDG367&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=google-coop-np

This has some useful information on energy absorbing lanyards. Click on the html version at the top of the page.

In relation to harnesses, I have sort advice from the International Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) who offer the following comment on harnesses.

'In the case of a harness, we would look for weaknesses in the stitching, general degradation of the webbing material (this can be caused by liquids, weather and general wear and tear) and the functionality of all moving parts, including the fact that they are all present.

When our auditors visit a member company they will check all equipment used by that company and have been known to 'retire and destroy' a harness because of minor damage to stitching;

our assessors who visit training centres on the last day of each course, will also check that the kit used for the programme has been, and remains, in good condition.

Clearly, if harnesses are used in work where heat, blasting, sharp or other electrical equipment has been held by the technician, then added checks are required. The simple answer to the question is, if in doubt destroy.

There is research being undertaken at present about the durability of some webbing material when in strong sunlight or in damp conditions.'

Link to their website at http://www.irata.org/index.asp

Besides the above advice, I draw your attention to our webpage and the downloads available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/downloads.htm 

Please select: Work at Height Safety Association Leaflets (WAHSA) WAHSA have published some leaflets on use of work positioning and fall arrest equipment for work at height. They cover issues such as when to use PPE, anchors, lanyards and inspection requirements.

On the subject of inspection there is British Standard BS EN 365: 2004 Personal protective equipment against falls from a height - General requirements for instructions for use, maintenance, periodic examination, repair, marking and packaging.

This can be purchased at http://www.standardsdirect.org/standards/standards1/StandardsCatalogue24_view_13637.html 

This is a priced publication.

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