Published 19 Oct 2023
What is a Safety Harness Inspection?
A safety harness inspection is ideally conducted every time a harness is going to be used by a worker who will be working at heights. Also known as a fall protection harness inspection, safety harness inspection helps keep workers safe as it involves checking if the labeling, webbing, stitching, D-rings, lanyards, and snap hook-ends of a harness are in good condition.
In this article
- Laws and Standards for Proper Use and Inspection Practices
- Types of Safety Harness Inspections
- What to Include in a Safety Harness Inspection Checklist
- FAQs about Safety Harness Inspection Checklists
- Ensure the Safety of Workers at Heights with SafetyCulture
- Related Safety Harness Inspection Checklists
Occupational health and safety regulators around the world, such as the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and Safe Work Australia, require regular inspection and proper maintenance or storage of fall protection equipment. For this reason, having a safety harness inspection checklist and other fall protection checklists have become essential.
A safety harness inspection checklist is used before commencing daily tasks to ensure the integrity of safety harnesses and reduce the risk of falling. This checklist can also be used to perform regular inspections on safety harnesses and fall protection equipment, ensuring that they are not only working as intended but are also still usable and not in need of any maintenance or repair.
Regular inspections of safety harnesses can also help extend their lifespan, saving money in the long run. Inspections can detect wear and tear, corrosion, and other issues that, if left unattended, would lead to premature harness failure. By catching these problems early, you can ensure that your harnesses remain effective for an extended period.
Laws and Standards for Proper Use and Inspection Practices
Different countries have different legal regulations and standards to follow for the use and inspection of safety harnesses. Here are some of the most well-known standards around the world:
Work at Height Regulations 2005
This regulation from the UK mandates that all safety harnesses exposed to strenuous physical, chemical, and weather elements at work be subject to regular and ad hoc inspections in order to ensure that they are safe for use. This regulation also details other safety standards for other fall protection equipment.
The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992
This UK law requires employers to cover the costs of PPE maintenance and repairs for all workers required to use them. This also puts responsibility on employers to ensure that workers are wearing the appropriate PPEs for any work being performed.
OSHA 1910.140 – Personal Fall Protection Systems
This OSHA regulation details the rules and regulations needed for all US states to follow when using, maintaining, and inspecting safety harnesses and other personal fall protection equipment. This also lists down the different gears needed for different tasks.
This regulation provides the necessary details and guidelines for the use of full-body harnesses when working at heights. Along with EN 358 and EN 355, EN 361 is one of the major regulations European countries refer to when ensuring safety for workers at heights.
Types of Safety Harness Inspections
In the construction industry and in situations where workers are required to work from high places, falling from heights often results in major injuries and fatalities, which translates to a variety of cons for the worker, the worker’s family, and their employer. A crippling injury can severely affect the quality of life for workers and their families in the long term, and the employer can suffer from significant financial loss, especially if they are found to be non-compliant with safety harness standards.
Here are the different safety harness inspection types and recommended inspection schedules you can use checklists for to ensure that workers only use safe and compliant safety harnesses:
Pre-use inspections are especially important and should never be skipped since they provide potential safety harness users with the most updated information on the lanyard’s condition. Before approving a harness for use, inspectors should visually inspect the entirety of the lanyard under good lighting conditions while running a hand from one end to another to feel for any cuts, thinning, and other signs of damage that could be dangerous for workers.
Scheduled inspections are fewer and farther between since they are much more comprehensive and time-consuming compared to pre-use inspections, which typically only take a few minutes to complete. At the very least, scheduled inspections should be done for each safety harness in the inventory every six months. If resources allow, it once every three months would be more optimal, especially if the safety harnesses are being used in rough conditions where damage to the lanyard and other components are more likely.
This type of inspection occurs in between detailed inspections and on top of pre-use checks. Interim inspections should be done when safety harness risks are identified before the next detailed inspection, and when working conditions change to involve physical or chemical elements that have the potential to degrade the tensile strength of safety harnesses.
What to Include in a Safety Harness Inspection Checklist
A typical safety harness inspection checklist contains fields for the following:
- Date and time the inspection is being performed
- Inspector name
- Description of why a safety harness is necessary for the task
- Task to be done
- Photos of the equipment and safety harnesses to be used
- Presence and condition of safety harness tags and their written model, date of manufacture, name of manufacturer, limitations, and warnings
- Status of burn marks, damage, cuts, holes, cracks, deformities, and other issues on the harness, if applicable
- Condition of hooks
- Description of the type of lanyard used and its condition
- Condition of lifelines
- Signature for sign-off and validity
Here is a sample report from a safety harness inspection checklist for reference:
FAQs about Safety Harness Inspection Checklists
Whether it’s a pre-use, scheduled, or interim type of safety harness inspection, safety harnesses should be inspected only by competent persons or rescuers who can verify that the harnesses are safe for use. They are also responsible for using and managing safety harness inspection checklists.
When inspecting a full-body safety harness, workers at heights should keep an eye out for the following often-missed checkpoints:
- Impact Indicators
- Sub-pelvic Straps
- Ultraviolet Degradation
- Worker Competency
Safety harnesses should be inspected once a year at the minimum to ensure they are still fit for use. However, it would be best to inspect your harnesses before and after each use to better track problems and safety concerns as they happen. This can be done with a checklist, particularly with a digital one that you can have with you at all times.
Ensure the Safety of Workers at Heights with SafetyCulture
When working at heights and inspecting the gear needed for it, it is crucial to focus on the environment and your own task rather than unnecessary equipment such as clipboards. Donald Kempf, Owner of Sunshine Crane Repairs, previously carried a notepad and pen while he ran through several preventive maintenance checklists, scrawling notes and taking photos with his camera.
SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) is a mobile-ready platform that aims to streamline operations and improve inspection processes. It offers digital checklists for all safety harnesses inspection needs to ensure compliance with legal requirements and to keep workers safe at all times. In the process, it empowers employees to report problems as they see them, thus creating solutions for them immediately and efficiently.
With SafetyCulture, Donald not only digitized his checklists but also expanded them from a page to 14 comprehensive pages with photos. He says, “It saves a heap of time on site and then when I am at home, the task is already done; no more sitting at the computer writing out reports.”
To get started with SafetyCulture, you can download premade safety harness inspection checklist templates from the Public Library and edit them as you see fit or create your own from scratch. You also have the option to upload any existing checklist you may have to be converted for use in the platform. After, all files will be stored in the cloud for easy access anytime and anywhere.
SafetyCulture also allows you to do the following:
- Schedule safety harness inspections in-app and be notified of them
- Report issues during safety harness inspections as they take place
- Address identified problems by directly assigning corrective actions to the right people
- Communicate safety reminders with your staff immediately all at once with Heads Up
- Monitor the status and usage of safety harnesses and other fall protection assets
- Train employees on proper harness inspection procedures and safety practices when working at heights
- Generate analytical reports and export them in PDF, Word, Excel, or Weblink formats
Related Safety Harness Inspection Checklists
A harness and lanyard inspection checklist aims to check the condition of safety harnesses and lanyards. First, capture the manufacturer details of the harness and lanyard being inspected, then take photos of all labels and tags. Perform visual and tactile equipment inspection and record any damage and defects found, including cuts, fraying, excessive wear, D-ring damage, etc. Make sure to take photo evidence of any defects found.
A fall protection site safety inspection report details safety measures before, during, and after work shifts when working at heights. Use this to identify the safety measures in place and the changes that need to be implemented. This checklist should be used in conjunction with other safety harness inspection checklists.