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Does fall arrest equipment have an EXPIRY DATE?

Yes and NO is the simple note:

1 It must be check and inspected yearly by an agency plus INSPECTED DAILY FULLY BY THE PERSON WEARING IT!

2 It must not have any defects if so its is out service

Although a well cared for or seldom used safety harness can last longer than five years, it is still recommended that you remove it from service at the five year mark. Not only may your safety harness be out of warranty, but you have no way of knowing that the internal structure of your safety harness is sound — even if it’s passed regular inspection and shows no outward signs of damage. When it comes to personal fall protection, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Each harness and lanyard is accompanied by specific instructions for use, inspection, and cleaning that must be understood and followed. Industry requires all fall protection products, including harnesses and lanyards be visually inspected prior to use and regularly inspected by a Competent Person, such as defined by OSHA (Occupational Health & Safety Administration) or CSA (Canadian Standards Association). When not in use, products should be stored at room temperature away from chemicals, moisture and ultra-violet light.

Following these instructions may still necessitate removing the harness or lanyard from service prior to any life expectancy guideline, due to the normal wear and tear of everyday use. Likewise, proper adherence to the inspection and maintenance criteria may extend the useful life. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the end-user to determine when a harness or lanyard is unfit for use and should be removed from service.

In Canada Full Body Harnesses CAN/CSA/Z259.10-M90 does NOT give an expiry date but STATES MUST MEET THESE STANDARDS AT ALL TIME, if not it is out of service.

  • Use the right equipment for the job. Refer to the series of Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standards Z259, including:
    • Z259.1-05 (R2010) “Body belts and saddles for work positioning and travel restraint”,
    • Z259.2.3-12 “Descent devices”,
    • Z259.10-12 “Full Body Harnesses”,
    • Z259.11-05 (R2010) “Energy absorbers and lanyards”,
    • Z259.12-01 (R2011) “Connecting components for personal fall arrest systems (PFAS)”,
    • and any other standards or legislation that may apply.

Rest assured the equipment has tremendous excess capacity, and the degradation that is common (not normal…) in a 3-5 year period does not render the device worthless on the 1st day of the 6th year. The manufacturer knows that a harness worn every day will likely not make the 5 year mark, not by a long shot. A heavy form carpenter or an iron worker can wear out a harness in less than a year. On the other hand, a harness that is properly stored and worn only for inspections and riding in boom lifts and on roofs, that is used once a week or once a month, may last a lifetime. The Competent Person is the deciding factor. Also note, lanyards have a recommended 3 year use limit.

ANSI and OSHA do not reference a maximum service life for synthetic fiber products. ANSI and OSHA standards require that the user remove the equipment from service if it has been subject to the forces of arresting a fall. ANSI A10.32-2012 does not specify a 5 year harness and lanyard service life. It states that “fall protection equipment shall be removed from service upon evidence of defects, damage or deterioration; once it has been subjected to impact loading; or upon expiration of the manufacturer’s specified service life, whichever comes first.”

ANSI and OSHA standards require that the user remove the equipment from service if it has been subject to the forces of arresting a fall. They also states that when inspection reveals defects in, damage to, or inadequate maintenance of equipment, the equipment shall be permanently removed from service or undergo adequate corrective maintenance before return to service.

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Installation of horizontal lifeline systems

A horizontal lifeline  consists of a synthetic or wire rope rigged between two substantial anchors. These lifeline systems allow a worker to move horizontally while safely secured to a fall arrest system. Synthetic rope horizontal lifeline  should be considered temporary because they are usually subject to deterioration resulting from use, exposure to the elements, and exposure to other potentially damaging hazards. Wire rope horizontal lifeline may be either temporary or permanent.

hlifeline

Rigid rail horizontal fall protection systems are almost always permanent

fixedrail

A vital aspect of the safe use of horizontal lifeline systems is that they be installed properly. Alberta OHS requires that before the horizontal lifeline system is used, it is certified in writing as having been properly installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications or the certified specifications of a professional engineer.

This certification of the installation can be performed by a professional engineer, a competent person authorized by the professional engineer, the manufacturer, or a competent person authorized by the manufacturer.

This competent person could be one of the employer’s workers, trained and authorized by the lifeline manufacturer to certify the installation. Often overlooked by employers and installers of horizontal lifeline systems is whether or not there is sufficient clearance below the installed system.

If there is any doubt, employers should contact the equipment manufacturer or involve a professional engineer who can assess the available clearance in accordance with the requirements of CSA Standard Z259.16.

See OHS Code Explanation Guide 2009 for more information as well as ensure that you are following the most up to date OHS Code, Regs, and Act.

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Procedures in place of fall protection equipment

Alberta OHS recognizes that it is not always reasonably practicable for an employer to provide a “hard” fall protection system that uses guardrails, a harness-lanyard-anchor combination or another fall protection system described in this Part.

The use of procedures in place of fall protection equipment is based on the employer determining that it is not reasonably practicable to provide a fall protection system for use by workers.

The justification as to why it is not reasonably practicable should be noted. If the use of a fall protection system is practicable, it must be used e.g. if anchor points are available or a fall protection system can be rigged without exposing workers to a greater hazard, then a fall protection system must be used.

The option of using an administrative procedure is not intended to allow an employer or worker to avoid using a fall protection system or some type of elevated work platform just because doing so may be inconvenient or take more time than using an administrative procedure.

A procedure-based fall protection system can only be used in the following situations:

(1) installation or removal of fall protection equipment (first person up/last person down) — typical examples may involve installing a fall arrest anchor at the peak of a roof, installing a perimeter guardrail system on a flat roof, installing a portable fall arrest post at height, etc.;

(2) roof inspection — applies to both flat and sloped roofs. Roof inspection includes school staff checking for and retrieving items that have been thrown on a school roof. If it is not possible to remain at least two metres from the edge of the roof while retrieving the object or toy, then a procedure-based approach can be used as long as the conditions listed below are met;

(3) emergency repairs — this does not include normal maintenance and service tasks;

(4) at-height transfers between equipment and structures if allowed by the manufacturer’s specifications — examples include transferring to and from a structure from some type of elevating work platform, an electric utility lineman transferring from a helicopter to a high voltage transmission line, etc.; and

(5) situations in which a worker must work on top of a vehicle or load

See OHS Code Explanation Guide 2009 for more information as well as ensure that you are following the most up to date OHS Code, Regs, and Act.