Fall Arrest Training and Inspection
Fall arrest and fall protection are some of the most important aspects of a safety management program. Whenever dealing with situations in the workplace where there is a possibility of a worker falling off of an elevated platform, fall protection will be needed. However, the sad thing about fall arrest is that even though a majority of workers, managers, and supervisors are aware of it, incidents still happen everyday across the country that could have been prevented had employees taken the correct preventative measures. One particular example comes from an incident that occurred in Oregon recently. A worker fell 150 feet to his death wearing equipment that was later found to have burn holes in the fall arrest straps and a faulty self-retracting lanyard. Sadly, this particular incident could have been prevented had workers properly inspected the equipment before beginning work. The question you need to ask yourself is, are you willing to gamble with your life? By not inspecting your equipment before use, you are doing just that.
A lot of workers think that by simply wearing fall arrest equipment, they will be safe. In reality though, this is just a false sense of security. Workers need to make it a habit to inspect their fall protection each and every time they are going to use it. When a fall occurs, a lot of weight and strain is put on the equipment, so it is imperative to make sure that each part is working correctly. A single faulty part could lead to disastrous consequences. Here are the things you will want to look for before beginning work with fall protection.
- Make sure there are no frayed edges, burn marks, broken fibers, or other noticeable damage or deterioration on any of the nylon webbing on the belt/body harnesses. The same applies if the belt or body harness is made of other materials. Stitching needs to be fully intact, not loose or torn. Also, the harness or belt should “give” a bit and be “soft”. You do not want it hard and stiff from dirt and other contaminants.
- Make sure “D” rings and buckles are not damaged or distorted in any way. They should be free of deformities, gouging, corrosion, stress cracks, and sharp edges. Inspect the connection points where the “D” ring or buckle is attached to the body harness or belt. The buckle and “D” ring should be securely attached and have no stitching that is pulled.
- Ensure that all grommets and rivets have no deformities, and are securely fashioned to the body harness or belt. They should not be able to be pulled loose.
- If ANY of the above conditions are present during your inspection, DO NOT USE THAT EQUIPMENT!
When inspecting lanyards, you will want to look for the following.
- Check for fraying, cuts, kinks, knots, burns, any sign of deterioration, and other visible damage. You will want to check the ENTIRE length of the lanyard while doing this. All stitching must be intact, not loose or torn, and spliced ends need to be carefully inspected for any type of deterioration or damage. Also be sure that the lanyard is not stiff or hard from dirt or other contaminants.
- “Shock absorber” lanyards will have “warning tags” that will notify you that the lanyard has experienced a fall.
- Check for any distortions or bending in snap hooks and eyes. Check for any gouges, corrosion, sharp edges, or cracks. The locking mechanism must be working correctly and there should be no binding of the mechanism.
- If you are using an SRL, or self retracting lanyard, you will have to inspect the body of the mechanism for any flaws. All nuts, screws, and rivets must be tightly installed and crimped ends and stitching should be free of any damage. Be sure to inspect the ENTIRE length of the lanyard!
- Pull quickly on the cable end of your locking mechanism to ensure that it locks quickly and firmly.
Like we said earlier, if you do not walk through these steps of inspection every time you use your fall arrest equipment, you are literally gambling with your life. The great thing though is that you can easily prevent catastrophic events from happening just by simply inspecting your equipment before use and replacing anything that is worn out or damaged. It’s that easy! Don’t be lazy and fall victim to something that could have easily been prevented. Practice safe fall arrest inspections every time before use and have peace of mind in your equipment while you work.