The very concept of a safety harness is that it is designed to protect the wearer from hazards that can result from working at a height. But when does the balance tip from a safety harness encourage safety, to it posing a hazard in itself due to being poorly maintained or defective?
The 2005 Working at Height Regulations stipulates that employers must check all equipment involved in protecting workers from the likes of falls and trips regularly. This also includes safety harnesses, which can easily be overlooked in favour of only checking the cables and other pieces of equipment responsible for keeping employees safe while working at height.
Whether your employees use safety harnesses to clean windows or indeed work on the top of skyscrapers, it’s essential that corners are never cut where safety is concerned, and safety harnesses and their accompanying lanyards are no exception. Here’s what you need to look out for.
No Serial Number Present
While all safety harnesses differ in terms of operational use suitability and the quality of the build, in general, it’s recommended to replace them after 5 years of use. In some cases, the manufacturer may be able to guarantee up to 10 years of use, so long as the equipment is well maintained and checked before use in case of defaults.
But hold up a second, how can your line managers, let alone your employees check their equipment if no information is provided? Specifically, we’re talking about the serial numbers that should be clearly seen on the equipment which will give information about the manufacturer, when the equipment was last inspected and an idea of the general lifespan of the piece.
Seen as serial numbers should be provided as standard, be extremely cautious if such basic information is not visible, because ultimately the safety of the equipment cannot be guaranteed.
No Manufacturing Date Is Present
As above, without any dates recorded by an official safety inspector, you just cannot be sure how old the equipment is. Imagine if an accident were to occur, and during the investigation, it was found the company was using a safety harness, despite knowing no date could be found?
Such an error sounds too obvious to happen, but the reality is without care and attention, these things sadly do happen. If you wouldn’t eat food that didn’t have a correct date on it (let alone no date at all!) then the same certainly won’t do for your safety harness, especially where lives are potentially at risk.
No Inspection Date Has Been Recorded In 12 Months
As an absolute minimum, safety harnesses should be inspected by a qualified party at least every 6 months. Ideally, though, the frequency should be much more regular, as small defaults could soon lead to huge problems if not spotted early enough.
The simple fact is that without an inspection within a reasonable timeframe, the equipment has not been deemed safe to use. If that’s the case, the preservation of human life cannot be guaranteed when the equipment is called upon to prevent that employee from having a serious fall or accident.
Fall Protection Equipment UK
Aside from the above, another reason a safety harness should be replaced is if you, your safety inspectors or employees alike notice any issues with the equipment. While it may seem like a hassle or even an expense to replace a safety harness, ultimately it is your responsibility as an employer to ensure your employees are safe at work.
If you have any concerns about your safety harness equipment, then a health and safety executive should be consulted in the first instance. In the meantime, if you require any help or advice on safety harnesses and fall protection equipment in general, we’re here to help.
Metreel is a leading supplier of fall protection equipment. We’re based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire covering the UK and beyond.
If you would like to find out more about our products, or if you’re interested in any other of the services we provide, please give us a call on 0115 647 0451, or drop us an email.
Alternatively, check out the Metreel Brochure to discover our full range of products and services.