Height Safety Expires
So, let’s jump right in. Yes, your height safety equipment expires. Like food, all height safety gear has a lifespan from the date it’s manufactured. This can be affected by usage, equipment type and manufacturer guidelines.
Why can’t you use a harness just because the 10 years is up? What about if it has only been used a few times and it looks like it’s in good condition? All materials start to deteriorate as they age, and the strength and integrity of materials can be compromised.
Best practice is also to conduct your own visual check for damage prior to use each time. All height safety and confined space equipment must be inspected by a competent person at least every 6 months. Some items require servicing on top of the normal inspections too. If the equipment is being used frequently it is recommended that it is inspected at more regular intervals.
For example, if you had a harness that you wore 5 hours, for 5 days a week over a year, that would work out to be 1,300 hours per year. Normal wear and tear from abrasion and getting wet would be far greater under these circumstances, meaning more frequent inspections and a lesser lifespan of your equipment.
If you are buying second hand products, be wary for a number of reasons. Check frequency of use, along with manufacturing date as this can decrease the lifespan. If it hasn’t been stored correctly, like being left in the sun or a damp environment, this can reduce the integrity of the materials. And last, but most importantly, any equipment that has been involved in a fall should be discontinued from use, in almost all cases. For example, if someone falls 2 meters off a roof, any components that have taken the shock of the fall will be compromised. You may not be able to see the damage; however the gear is still unfit for use. It’s now easy to understand why you should be cautious when buying second-hand gear.
Quick tip: You can’t use permanent marker on any lifting or height safety equipments’ soft materials as it’s considered a solvent. The materials will fail.