EN363 fall protection is essential to anybody that works at height, including roofers, scaffolders, tree surgeons and window cleaners. Falls are responsible for a great number of serious injuries and deaths, which are preventable by using the correct harnesses and lanyards.
The HSE advises the following ‘To counter the causes of degradation, the British Standard states that components should be examined at least twelve-monthly,’ and that ‘a lanyard that has been used to arrest a fall should never be reused. It should be withdrawn from service immediately and destroyed or returned to the manufacturer.’
You can view the HSE guide on inspecting webbing and rope fall arrest equipment by clicking here
Equipment should be checked before use and regular inspections should be fully documented. Even minor safety harness defects can cause a significant reduction to the performance of fall arrest gear, for example a one millimetre deep nick or cut in the edge of a webbing lanyard can result in between 5 to 39 per cent loss of strength. Ingress of dirt and UV can also cause damage to the fibres of the webbing, resulting in a similar loss of strength.
You can view further information on lanyard degradation by clicking here
What Damage/Degradation Should I Look For?
Defects that can weaken Lanyards include.
Abrasion along the lanyard’s edges.
Abrasion to webbing and loops.
Cuts and nicks in ropes and stitching.
Knot in lanyards that are not part of the original product’s design.
Observed by a change in colour which usually appears as a brownish smear or smudge. Transverse cracks appear when belt is bent over tight. This causes a loss of elasticity in the belt. Paint will penetrate and dry, restricting movements of fibres. Drying agents and solvents in some paints will appear as chemical damage.
Do not store webbing and rope lanyards in direct sunlight, because ultraviolet rays can reduce the strength of some material.
Damage from Friction and Heat
Nylon becomes brittle and may appear shrivelled and brown. Fibres will break when flexed and should not be used above 82 degrees Celsius. Webbing and rope strands may be fused together by molten metal or flame. Watch for hard, shiny spots or a hard and brittle feel. Webbing will not support combustion, but nylon will.
How Should my Fall Protection Equipment be Stored?
You can prolong the life of your safety equipment by maintaining and storing all components correctly. All safety components should be stored away from direct sunlight, in a secure area which is also free from corrosive materials.
Should I Clean my Fall Protection Equipment?
Cleaning your fall protection equipment will also prolong its life, so it is always important to remove all dirt and contamination.
Nylon and Polyester
Wipe off all surface dirt with a sponge dampened in plain water. Squeeze the sponge dry. Dip the sponge in a mild solution of water and commercial soap or detergent. Work up a thick lather with a vigorous back and forth motion. Then wipe the belt dry with a clean cloth. Hang freely to dry but away from excessive heat.
Harness, belts and other equipment should be dried thoroughly without exposure to heat, steam or long periods of sunlight.
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