Personal Fall Protection: Making Sure It's OSHA Compliant
About 18 months ago OSHA made changes to fall protection standards. Those standards have always required businesses to provide fall protection training to employees that are working at height, but now you also have to have an inspection program in place to determine the quality of your equipment..
Failure to inspect personal fall protection equipment is one of the top reasons a business may be out of compliance with OSHA standards..Most workers don't even realize they need to perform a visual inspection of their fall protection gear prior to their shift, let alone have a documented annual inspection performed.
According to ANSI/ASSE Z359.2
"Fall protection equipment shall be inspected by the authorized person at least once at the beginning of each eight hour shift in which it is used to verify that it has not sustained any wear or damage that would require its removal from service. Fall protection and fall rescue equipment shall be inspected on a regular basis not to exceed one year (or more frequently if required by the manufacturer’s instructions) by a competent person or a competent rescuer, as appropriate, to verify that the equipment is safe for use."
Properly inspecting your personal fall protection gear for damage or irregularities, prior to each use, is the best way to help keep everybody on the job site safe. Keep in mind that fall protection harnesses, lanyards, and retractables are the last line of defense to help keep your employees safe in the event of an accidental fall from height. Industry standards also require your fall protection equipment be inspected, at a minimum of once a year, by a “competent person” who has been certified for that specific task by their employer. There are many third-party companies who can train members of your team to properly size the equipment, inspect it to identify any abnormalities, and ultimately determine if it needs to be removed from service. Best practice is to retain documented inspection records for two years.
Everyone should be familiar with the following standards relating to personal fall protection and their removal from service
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.11 – Safety Requirements for Full Body Harnesses
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.13 – Personal Energy Absorbers and Energy Absorbing Lanyards
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.14 – Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems
Who makes the decision to remove fall protection equipment from service?
Every company should have a designated “Competent Person” who has been trained by a third-party to inspect personal fall protection equipment and properly size the equipment. Once they’ve been trained, their employer can then designate that person as “Qualified” and “Competent” to perform inspections and also train their co-workers on how to inspect the equipment and how to properly size it.
This Competent Person has the ultimate authority on removing a piece or pieces of fall protection equipment from service. Not only can they determine when a harness, lanyard, or retractable device should be removed from service, but when they make that determination, there is nobody in the organization who can trump that decision—including their manager, executives, or even the CEO
Hoosier Crane has a fall protection training program. Please contact us at 800-509-6131 or 574-523-2945. You can also email us at hoosiercrane.com