Harnesses and lanyards are to be used in conjunction with fall arrest equipment when working at height. There are several different harnesses on the market but ensuring that you choose the correct one is of utmost importance.
Every job will need to be assessed and a decision made as to how many attachment points are required. If there is a potential that recovery will be required then a harness with an overhead attachment point will be required. However, if working on a roof or scaffolding then only front and rear attachments are required.
An energy-absorbing lanyard is a line for connecting a full body harness to an anchorage point with an inbuilt device that reduces the impact of a fall. There is a wide range of possible causes of degradation of synthetic fibres used in webbing and rope lanyards including abuse, general wear and tear, edge/surface damage, ultraviolet light, dirt, grit and chemicals.
Research involving synthetic fibre webbing lanyards has confirmed several potential causes of degradation. It also highlighted that there is no well-defined boundary (e.g. usable life) separating those lanyards that are safe and those that are not. For example, a 1 mm cut in the edge of a lanyard can result in a 5 to 40% loss of strength depending on the make of lanyard being used. It is therefore essential that if lanyards are to be maintained to provide the required level of protection they are subject to an effective inspection regime.
BS EN 365:2004 personal protective equipment against falls from a height. General requirements for instructions for use, maintenance, periodic examination, repair, marking and packaging gives general requirements for periodic inspection, instructions for use and marking of PPE against falls from a height. To counter the causes of degradation the British Standard states that components should be examined ‘at least twelve-monthly’. This is sometimes taken to be ‘annually’, although manufacturers of textile products usually recommend inspection more frequently than this.
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