Harness inspection

Harness Inspection

Every business should have in place a regime for the inspection of harnesses and lanyards, drawn up by a competent person.  Stacey Underhill, of the Scaffolding Association advocates a rigorous inspection regime.

It’s important that the person carrying out inspections is competent, independent and impartial enough make objective decisions. They must have the appropriate authority to discard defective and damaged equipment. The inspector doesn’t have to be from an external company, although many suppliers do offer inspection services.

A harness and lanyard inspection regime should include:

  • The harnesses and lanyards unique identification numbers
  • The frequency and type of inspection i.e. Pre-Use, Detailed or Interim
  • The designated competent persons to carry out the inspections
  • The action to be taken upon finding defects or damage
  • How to record the inspections
  • Training for end users and inspectors
  • How the inspection regime will be monitored to verify that inspections are being carried out accordingly

Harnesses and lanyards should be subject to Pre-Use Checks, Detailed Inspections or Interim Inspections (as appropriate).

Pre-Use Checks:

  • Checks should be carried out before a harness and lanyard are used
  • Checks should be tactile and visual, passed slowly through the hands to detect any defects or damage
  • A visual check should be undertaken under good lighting and should normally take only a few minutes

Detailed Inspections:

  • More formal in-depth inspections should be carried out periodically
  • The HSE recommend that, as a minimum, a detailed inspection is undertaken at least every six months, or more frequently where the manufacturers guidelines advise
  • For frequently used harnesses and lanyards, like those used in scaffolding, it may be appropriate to increase the inspection frequency to every three months
  • Detailed Inspections must always be recorded.

Interim Inspections:

  • Interim Inspections are in-depth inspections that may be appropriate in addition to Pre-Use Checks and Detailed Inspections
  • Interim Inspections may be required between Detailed Inspections because a risk assessment has identified risks that may result in significant deterioration that affects the safety of the harness and lanyard, before the next inspection is due
  • Interim Inspections should always be recorded

Records must be kept for each piece of fall arrest equipment and should contain the following details:

  • Product (full body harness, lanyard), model and type including the trade name
  • Name and contact details of the manufacturer or supplier
  • Means of identification (batch or serial number)
  • Where applicable, the year of manufacture or life expiry date
  • Date of purchase
  • Any other information as necessary (maintenance and frequency of use)
  • Date first put into use
  • History or periodic examinations and repairs which include:
  • Dates and details of periodic examination and repair, including the name and signature of the competent person who carried out the periodic examination or repair
  • Next due date for periodic examination

Each piece of fall arrest equipment must be clearly, indelibly and permanently marked by the manufacturer in the language of the country of destination, in a way that does not have a negative effect on the materials being marked. The markings should include, as a minimum:

  • Manufacturers production batch or serial number, or other means of traceability
  • Model and type
  • Number and year of the document to which the equipment conforms
  • Pictogram or instruction to indicate the necessity for users to read the instructions for use

Harnesses and lanyards should be withdrawn from use and inspected by a competent person for a detailed inspection to decide whether they should continue to be used, destroyed, or returned to the manufacturer, where:

  • There is no evidence that they have been inspected by a competent person within the last 6 months
  • They are not identifiable, they should be uniquely identifiable and easily matched to their inspection documents
  • They are marked with the old British Standard BS1397:1979 (pre CE-marking)
  • They are thought to be damaged or defective, or there is any doubt about its safety after a Pre-Use Check, Detailed Inspection or Interim Inspection

Lanyards that have been used to arrest fall should never be reused. It is important to have a quarantine procedure in place to ensure that damaged, defective or suspected equipment that is withdrawn from service does not go back in to use.

Harnesses and lanyards withdrawn from use and considered damaged or defective should be permanently broken up before they are disposed of to ensure that they cannot be retrieved and used again.

Stacey Underhill MIIRSM

Head of External Affairs – Scaffolding Association

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