Maintaining fall arrest systems

February 1, 2010

In many jobs, a fall arrest system can mean the difference between life and death. But that lifesaving harness may not work at a critical moment if it is not properly cared for.

Pre-planning and proper maintenance will ensure fall arrest systems are functioning when they are needed. California OSHA recommends taking the following actions to protect the integrity of fall arrest systems:

  • Inspect the equipment thoroughly prior to each use, even when you are dealing with equipment that is used daily and may have been inspected the day before. If you are dealing with equipment that is rarely used, be sure to check that the item was not put away in bad condition and the equipment has not deteriorated while in storage. Mold or mildew can weaken straps and ropes.
  • Replace defective equipment. If there is any doubt about the safety of equipment, do not use it.
  • Replace all equipment – including ropes – that have been involved in a fall.
  • A trained inspector should thoroughly inspect the equipment at least twice annually in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Document the date of inspection.
  • Use systems that incorporate shock absorbers if the arresting forces of the lanyard alone can cause injury.