When should I replace my safety harness

Published: 02nd September 2010
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When working at height personal safety should be the highest priority. If involved in any work at height be it lifting work or being suspended at height then you must ensure that your equipment that you are using is fit for the purpose and of the highest standard. Following these guidelines will tell you whether your harness is safe to use and fit for the purpose it is intended.

Distortion

If any of the hardware is buckled, twisted or generally malformed, then this would be a good indicator if the harness has been used in a fall arrest scenario and should not be used again as the stress from a fall could be enough to cause unseen damage to the harness.

General Damage and wear and tear

If you can see any kind of damage to the hardware however minor that has not been recorded in an inspection, you should remove the harness from service until a professional can confirm the extent of the damage.

Cracking, Dents or Nicks

If there are any cracks, dents, nicks or stress lines in the hardware, destroy the harness immediately. A harness needs only a single point of failure to cause an injury or fail in the event of a fall, as these areas are designed to direct the force along the webbing or directly absorb impact, any failure on these points could be disastrous.

Fatigue/Rust

There is a certain allowance for this, 15% is the maximum tolerance and shouldn't be confused with area; the tolerance relates to surface penetration. If the harness has visible signs of rust or spotting this could still be fine; the general guideline is if you rub the rust between thumb and forefinger and are left with a residue, this exceeds 15% and should be removed from service.

Discolouration

Discolouration could be an indication of damage; the harness should be inspected by a professional before being used again.

Burrs

A Burr on hardware could indicate a problem with the casting or an underlying issue. Remove the harness from service and do not re-issue it until it has been inspected and verified by a professional.


When checking the harness webbing, if any of the following issues are found the harness needs to be removed from service to be checked by a professional or destroyed.

UV damage

Ultra Violet damage can be caused when the webbing is exposed to lengthy storage in direct sunlight which can weaken the webbing. A good indicator of UV damage is colour fading and the best way to check is to compare to a new harness. If discovered we recommend the harness is removed from service until inspected.

Chemical Damage

Staining is a good indicator of chemical damage and can be confirmed if the webbing underneath is brittle or hardened. In general the guideline is: if the stain does not come out after washing the equipment is unfit for use, this includes permanent markers!

Cuts, Frays or Burns

Check the condition of the webbing by running your fingers down each strap and making sure it is complete and free from damage. If you find any remove the harness from service.

General condition

Once you have finished the specific inspections, confirm that all the straps hang correctly, that there is no obvious damage, that all the stitching is present and that you feel comfortable using the item. If at any point you don't, then seek a replacement harness.


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