When Should A Safety Harness Be Replaced?
Posted on 21st Feb, 2018 | By Lorretta Tatham
Being experts in access equipment and safety here at Browns Safety, we often find ourselves being asked about equipment like safety harnesses. Amongst the most frequent questions we often hear is: when should I replace my safety harness? Well, there’s a long answer and a short answer, and so that’s what we’ll be outlining in this week’s blog.
The Official Advice On When To Replace Safety Harnesses
As a general rule, the average lifespan of a typical safety harness is around five years. This does depend on the make and model of the harness itself – some are even approved for up to ten years. Again, this depends on the capabilities of the individual pieces of equipment, and the recommendations of the manufacturer.
But, don’t stop reading there! While the law doesn’t give any concrete, arbitrary time limits on when to change equipment, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 requires that for any equipment exposed to conditions that might cause deterioration (a category that very much includes safety harnesses and lanyards), employers need to inspect them at regular intervals, as well as immediately after any events that might have put it under particular physical stress.
As a general rule, the Health and Safety Executive recommends that anchorages for fall arrest equipment should be inspected at least once a year, or every 12 months. Energy-absorbing lanyards, meanwhile, should be inspected at least every six months, or three months if they’re used in regularly strenuous conditions (in other words, if they’re arresting falls on a very frequent basis).
How To Tell If A Safety Harness Needs Replacing
Remember, even if you’re within official guidelines, the final responsibility rests with you to keep your employees safe. If your equipment fails and injures your employee, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been keeping to the recommended timespan of inspections. Essentially, you need to be checking it as often as you feel it needs to be checked. Trust your instincts – if you think your safety equipment is compromised, immediately discontinue its use until you’ve ascertained its safety, and replace it if you can’t. Your risk assessment needs to take into account the working conditions, too.
Some easy ways to tell when your safety harness or lanyard needs replacing are:
- If you don’t have an individual serial number
Without a serial number, you won’t be able to trace the harness to its manufacturer, or verify if it’s been inspected. That means you won’t know if it’s safe, and in no circumstances should you risk using it.
- If you can’t find a manufacturing date
This is essentially for the same reason above – if you can’t trace its origins, you can’t guarantee its safety.
- If you can’t find an inspection date recorded in the last 12 months
To be clear, 12 months is the absolute maximum time you should be leaving between inspections. That means if you can’t find a date within that time, you should not risk using the harness.
Here at Browns Safety, we make it our business to give you the skills and knowledge you need to keep your employees safe. Our Harnesses & Lanyards Training Course is designed to do exactly this, so you can guarantee the physical wellbeing of your employees and maintain a safe, responsible working environment. You can make an enquiry on the course by clicking the link above, or by calling us on 01282 615517.