Inspection & Maintenance

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1 PERSONAL FALL ARREST EQUIPMENT Inspection & Maintenance This article addresses the requirements of OSHA (d)(21), which states that personal fall arrest systems shall be inspected prior to each use for wear, damage and other deterioration, and defective components shall be removed from service. Workers are expected to inspect Personal Fall Arrest Equipment (PFAE) for wear, damage or corrosion as part of their daily job routine. Body Harness Inspection Body harnesses and belts should be inspected in the same way. 1. Harness strap and D-ring inspection: Beginning at one end, grasp the harness with your hands six to eight inches apart. Hold the body side of the belt toward you. Bend the harness in an inverted U. The resulting surface tension makes damaged fibers or cuts easier to see. Follow this procedure for the entire length of the harness. Watch for frayed edges, broken fibers, pulled stitches and cuts. Watch for chemical damage from roofing solvents, glues and bitumen. Check D-ring and D-ring metal wear pads for distortion, cracks, breaks, and rough or sharp edges. The D-ring bar should pivot freely. Pay special attention to the attachments of buckles and D-rings. Note any unusual wear, frayed or cut fibers, or distortion of the buckles. Rivets should be tight and not removable with fingers. The body-side rivets bases and outside rivets should be flat against the material. Bent rivets will fail under stress. Inspect for frayed or broken strands. Broken webbing strands generally appear as tufts on the webbing surface. Any broken, cut or burned stitches will be readily seen. 2. If a harness is used with a body belt that has a tongue or buckle, the harness will receive heavy wear form repeated buckling and unbuckling. Inspect for loose, distorted or broken grommets. Belts should not have additional punched holes. 3. Tongue Buckle The buckle tongue should be free of distortion in shape and motion. It should overlap the buckle frame and move freely back and forth in its socket. The roller should turn freely on the frame. Check for distortions or sharp edges. 4. Friction Buckle Inspect the buckle for distortion. The other bar or center bars must be straight. Pay special attention to corners and attachment points of the center bar. 1

2 Lanyard Inspection When inspecting lanyards, begin at one end and work to the opposite end. Slowly rotate the lanyard so that the entire circumference is checked. Spliced ends require particular attention. Hardware should be examined under procedures detailed below: Hardware Inspection Inspect closely for hook and eye distortions, cracks, corrosion, or pitted surfaces. The keeper or latch should seat into the nose without binding and should not be distorted or obstructed. The keeper spring should exert sufficient force to firmly close the keeper. Keeper rocks must prevent the keeper from opening once closed. The thimble (protective plastic sleeve) must be firmly seated in the eye of the splice, and the splice should have no loose or cut strands. The edges of the thimble should be free of sharp edges, distortions, or cracks. Steel Lanyards While rotating a steel lanyard, watch for cuts, frayed areas, or unusual wear patterns on the wire. Broken strands will separate from the body of the lanyard. Steel lanyards should not be used for fall protection without a shock-absorbing device. Web Lanyards While bending webbing over a piece of pipe, observe each side of the webbed lanyard. This should reveal any cuts or breaks. Watch closely for any breaks in the stitching. Swelling, discoloration, cracks or charring are obvious sighs of chemical or heat damage. Asphalt, glues and solvents will damage web lanyards and lanyards should be replaced if damage occurs. Due to the limited elasticity of the web lanyard, it should not be used for fall arrest without the use of a shock absorber. Web lanyards should not be used on hot roofing systems. Rope Lanyards Rotate the rope lanyard while inspecting it from end to end to reveal any fuzzy, worn, broken or cut fibers. The rope diameter should be uniform throughout, following a short break-in period. Weakened areas from extreme loads will appear as a noticeable change in original diameter. When a rope lanyard is used for fall protection, a shock-absorbing system should be added. Swelling, discoloration, cracks or charring are obvious sighs of chemical or heat damage. Asphalt, glues and solvents will damage rope lanyards. Rope lanyards should not be used on hot roofing systems. Shock-Absorbing Packs Examine the outer portion of the shock absorbing pack for burn holes and tears. Stitching on areas where the pack is sewn to the D-ring, belt, or lanyard should also be examined for loose strands, rips, and deterioration. Check for damage from other sources. Visual indications of damage to webbing and rope lanyards occur from the following: 1. Heat - In excessive heat, nylon becomes brittle and has a shriveled, brownish appearance. Fibers will break when flexed. Nylon should not be used when roofing with hot. 2

3 2. Chemical - Chemical damage may result in a change in color, usually appearing as a brownish smear or smudge. Transverse cracks appear when the harness is bent over tight. Harness and web lanyards will lose elasticity. 3. Ultra-violet Rays - Do not store webbing and rope lanyards in direct sunlight because it can reduce the strength of some materials. Coal-tar pitch generated by tear-off and sunlight both chemically react with materials and can deteriorate harnesses, web lanyards and rope lanyards very quickly. Cleaning of fall protection equipment will be required on a daily basis. 4. Molten Materials or Flames - Webbing and rope strands may fuse together when exposed to molten materials or flames from torches. Webbing will not support combustion, nylon will. A hard and brittle feel and hard shiny spots may indicate damage. 5. Paint and Solvents - Paint will penetrate and dry, restricting movement of fibers. Drying agents and solvents in some sprayed-on roof coatings will appear as chemical damage. Roofing solvents, adhesives and cleaners will damage lanyards and appear as chemical damage. They can also make the nylon or polyester in harnesses and lanyards lose flexibility and become hard. Replacement and Removal From Service Belts, harnesses, lanyards and other PFAE should be removed from service and replaced when any of the above defects are found. Determining whether a piece of equipment is not acceptable for use is a judgment call by the inspector. Most all manufacturers have a care and maintenance tag attached to the PFAE equipment which describes when the equipment should be removed from service. Contrary to popular belief, PFAE length of service is established by the manufacturer and each piece of equipment length of service will vary. Cleaning Cleaning should be on a frequent basis. Cleaning will depend on the type of contamination from roofing work. Fiberglass and cold-tar-pitch will require cleaning on a daily basis. Asphalt and adhesives are difficult to clean off. Care should be taken to not contaminate the equipment. Basic care for all PFAE will prolong the life of the equipment and contribute to the performance of its vital safety function. When cleaning PFAE the following should be done: Never clean PFAE with roof solvents or gasoline, it will destroy the equipment. Never wash them in an automatic washer. Use a mild detergent and a soft brush to wash the equipment in a large wash basin or tub. Hang equipment and let it dry naturally. Proper storage is just as important as cleaning the equipment of dirt or contaminants. The storage area should be clean, dry and free of exposure to any roofing products and sunlight. Some manufacturers supply a storage bag for the equipment, which should always be used. Cleaning 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. Wipe the harness or lanyard dry with a clean cloth and hang freely to dry, away from excessive heat. This should be done off the job-site. Inspection and maintenance is an ongoing process that takes about 5 minutes for the inspection and 5 to 10 minutes to clean the equipment depending on the type. Many companies assign a specific type of harness or lanyard to a worker. It is the worker s responsibility to see that the equipment assigned to him is inspected and maintained in accordance with the requirements of this document. Attached is a maintenance inspection guide that may be helpful when inspecting PFAE. 3

4 Monthly Safety Quiz PERSONAL FALL ARREST EQUIPMENT Name: Date: Circle the letter of the best answer to the question & fill in the blank. 1. Body belts and harnesses shall be inspected in the same manner. 2. Harnesses should be inspected on a daily basis. 3. One of the following statements is not part of a harness inspection. a. Examine the outer portion of the shock absorbing pack for burn holes and tears. b. Inspect for frayed or broken strands. c. Examine for broken webbing strands, which generally appear as tufts on the webbing surface. d. Check D-ring and D-ring metal wear pads. 4. If a harness is used with a body belt that has a tongue or buckle, the harness will receive heavy wear form repeated buckling and unbuckling. 5. Only double-locking snap-hooks should be used and the keeper or should seat into the nose without binding and should not be distorted or obstructed. 6. What type of lanyard should be used when installing a 4-ply hot asphalt roofing system? a. Web lanyard b. Nylon rope lanyard c. Manila rope lanyard d. Steel Lanyard 7. Harnesses and lanyards are not affected by U-V light. 8. Roofing solvents/chemicals can damage harnesses and lanyards. Which one of the following is a sign of solvent/chemical damage? a. Webbing becomes hard b. Cracks appear in webbing when bent c. Discoloration occurs to the webbing d. Fibers in webbing are restricted from movement e. All of above 9. Most manufactures of PFAE have instructions on when equipment should be removed from service. 10. Adhesives can be cleaned off of PFAE with gasoline or solvent as long as damage does not occur. 4

5 March 2005 Safety Quiz Answers: 1. a. True 2. a. True. At a minimum they shall be inspected on a daily basis, most manufacturers want an inspection before the equipment is used. 3. a. Examine the outer portion of the shock absorbing pack for burn holes and tears. 4. a. True 5. latch 6. d. Steel lanyard is the only acceptable lanyard when working with hot unless lanyards are suspended above the working surface. 7. b. False. UV-Light greatly affects the use of harnesses and lanyards and PFAE should be stored out of the sun when not used. 8. e. All of the above 9. a. True. Always follow manufacturer s instructions on removal of PFAE from service. 10. b. False. Never, under any circumstances, should solvents or gasoline be used to clean PFAE. 5

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