Safety Harness Inspection Checklists

Never miss crucial checkpoints of safety harness inspections and have more time to focus on your tasks.

Published December 15th, 2020

What is a Safety Harness Inspection?

A safety harness inspection, also known as a fall protection harness inspection, is a pre-use check of personal fall arrest systems to determine if it is safe for use. Workers at heights such as building maintenance personnel, electrical engineers, and construction workers should assess the labeling, webbing, stitching, D-rings, lanyards, and snap hook-ends of the harness to ensure harnesses are in good condition before using them.

In this article, we will talk about:

Why use a Safety Harness Inspection Checklist?

A safety harness inspection checklist is used before commencing daily tasks to ensure the integrity of safety harnesses and reduce the risk of falling. Occupational health and safety regulators around the world such as OSHA, HSE, and SafeWork require regular inspection and proper maintenance or storage of fall protection equipment.

Inspection Types and Safety Harness Inspection Schedule

In the construction industry, falling from heights often results in major injuries and fatalities which translate 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 family 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 to ensure that workers only use safe and compliant safety harnesses:

  1. Pre-use Inspection

    Pre-use inspections are especially important and they 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 also 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. 

  2. Scheduled Inspection

    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.           

  3. Interim Inspection

    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. 

Safety Harness Inspection Requirements: Laws and Standards

Work at Height Regulations 2005

This regulation 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. 

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

This 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. 

5 Often-missed Safety Harness Inspection Checkpoints

This year, a lead rigger died in a 60-feet fall while setting up a Coachella stage in California, and eyewitnesses claimed that the 49-year old man was not using a safety harness when he fell. Even experienced workers make the mistake of not only donning personal fall protection equipment, but also inspecting it before use. When inspecting a full-body safety harness, workers at heights should keep an eye out for the following often-missed checkpoints:

  1. Impact Indicators

    When a safety harness has been used to arrest a fall, it should be immediately removed from service. Impact indicators, or fall arrest load indicators, on a safety harness reveal that it has gotten enough force for it to be discarded. They are usually popped stitches on the backstrap, loose D-rings with an exposed alert color, or plastic rings designed to break.

  2. Sub-pelvic Straps

    As the strongest support area during periods of suspension, checking for any sub-pelvic strap damage is critical for fall protection. The sub-pelvic strap passes under the buttocks without passing through the crotch, and it is designed to transfer forces applied during fall arrest or post-fall suspension to the sub-pelvic part of the body.

  3. Ultraviolet Degradation

    One of the factors that influence the effectiveness of a full-body harness is its exposure to ultraviolet rays. Visually identifying UV-degradation can be difficult, but there may be flaking on the surface of the safety harness and discoloration, if dyed. Other signs of chemical damage such as burn marks and fibers with a glazed appearance also weaken webbing strength.

  4. Contamination

    The amount of dirt generated by the work area determines how contaminated a safety harness can be, resulting in excessive internal or external abrasion. Grit, sand, or debris underneath the dorsal D-ring can cause serious problems workers at heights normally cannot see. Make sure to properly clean and store the safety harness, lanyard, and other parts of the personal fall arrest system to easily maintain equipment integrity.

  5. Worker Competency

    This year, a 51-year old construction worker fell to his death after not securing his safety harness to the lifeline. Workers at heights should develop the habit of applying their training when inspecting and using their safety harness and lanyard. Remember to inspect your fall protection gear without gloves on to accurately detect more than 1-mm cuts and localized abrasion on the webbing.

Never Miss a Safety Harness Inspection Checkpoint

When working at heights, 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.

With iAuditor, Donald not only digitized his checklists, but he expanded it 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.

Leverage on the features of iAuditor, the world’s most powerful inspection checklist app:

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Shine Colcol

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Shine Colcol

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.