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Inspection of safety gear important in keeping workers safe

As we have written about in previous posts, falls are a major issue in workplaces throughout the country. Incidents such as these often occur on construction sites and involve construction workers. Depending on the specific circumstances surrounding a fall, the outcome can be serious. The use of fall protection equipment can be beneficial in reducing these incidents. To make sure that the equipment works as intended, it is important to properly maintain it.

There are a variety of fall protection devices available that may be used on a construction site, including self-retracting lifelines, lanyards and harnesses and body belts. The safety checks necessary vary from system to system.

Where self-retracting lifelines are concerned, three parts need to be investigated including the unit's housing, the lifeline and the braking mechanism. Among other things the lifeline's tension and retractions should be looked at. In addition, the brakes should engage when the lifeline is grasped and sharply tugged above the impact indicator.

The entire length of a lanyard should be inspected for wear. In addition, hardware used on the device, such as thimbles and snaps should be looked at for, among other things, cracks.

Body belts have numerous components that need to be scrutinized. These include buckles, grommets, D-rings and webbing. Here again, it is important to check the entire length of webbing for wear that could weaken the harness and compromise the safety of the person using it. The rings and buckles should not be loose, distorted or have breaks.

Keeping the fall protection equipment clean is also a good idea.

When a worker is hurt in fall, regardless of whether he or she is utilizing a personal fall arrest system, that worker could seek workers' compensation benefits to help cover expenses and medical bills.

Source: ISHN, "How to inspect and maintain personal fall arrest systems" 2 October 2014

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