Working on high-risk jobs means you need to make sure that your protective equipment (PPE) is functional, like a safety harness. This piece of PPE is part of the fall restraint system intended to tether you in case of dropping from elevated positions.
Just like any other personal equipment, this one also comes with an expiration date. Here are some things you should know that will let you know when to replace a safety harness and be safe at work.
1. Look for serial number
A serial number can be a combination of numbers and letters embedded on your safety harness that will help you trace it back to the manufacturer. In case the harness doesn’t have this number, you should consider replacing it immediately even if it looks alright. Without a serial number, you can’t check how many times this harness was used or see its safety data, so it’s best not to risk using it.
2. Create your control schedule
To make sure your safety measures are at the highest level, maintain a control schedule and stick with it. It will remind you to be regular and thorough about an inspection of your PPE and minimize the risk of accidents. While not more than 12 months should pass from your last inspection, it’s best to do it as often as once a month. Every time you can’t find the date of the last inspection or any, for that matter, means you should replace the safety harness without delay.
3. Look for the inspection and manufacturing dates
You should be interested in two dates for your safety harness: when it’s made and when it was last inspected. If any of those are missing, it’s best to replace your gear with a new one. A safety harness can serve you from 6 months to up to 10 years, depending on the industry, maintenance, storage, and amount of use. However, if you can’t determine to find information about the last-observed state of your harness or how old it is, it’s a reason for concern you should act on right away.
4. Choose a trusted vendor
A safety harness and other PPE should come from a trusted vendor and manufacturer with years of experience and high recommendations. This means that you should approach choosing your harness as a process and not just a simple supply run. Even with such a reliable harness, you will have to perform standard safety checks, but at least you won’t have to worry about replacing your PPE too often.
5. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations
Every safety harness will come with instructions on how to put it on, as well as the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to use it. If the manufacturer says you should replace the harness after a certain time, you should do it even if it’s barely used. After production, the safety harness is tested and analyzed to evaluate its quality and durability by the manufacturer, so you should pay attention to its guidelines.
6. Keep a record of used equipment
Even with all the info on your safety harness, you should keep a record of how often the equipment is used. A lot depends on the wear and tear of your gear, so sometimes that may be a determining factor that it’s time to replace it. For example, create a simple table for every month and print it out, so you can check or mark days when you used your harness. You can go as far as to count the hours you spent in your safety gear and what you needed it for.
7. Attend safety-at-work course
Safety at work is both obligation of the employer and the employees. If the company you are working for didn’t provide safety training, you and other workers should demand one. Regardless of how often you attended such a course, repeating what you already know may be a nice reminder of the importance of safety. Years of experience on the job mean you should be stricter about your safety and not feel overly confident that an accident won’t happen.
The bottom line
Measures to protect human life should always come first. Replacing a safety harness is more than paying attention to its assessed lifespan. You should perform regular controls, keep notes on its condition and frequency of use, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you can’t mark even one of the inspection boxes, you should replace a safety harness without hesitation to minimize the safety risks.