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“What is the life expectancy of my harness?” Or, “Does my fall protection harness have an expiration date?”
That’s right, you read that correctly. Neither OSHA nor ANSI have current standards that set a specific time frame for removing a harness from service.
When you purchase a full-body harness, it’s not like buying a gallon of milk from the grocery store. Most manufacturers, like FrenchCreek, will not suggest the life expectancy of a harness or put any specific date on the label. Harnesses are not perishable items, and your full-body harness could last you years upon years if properly maintained.
Here’s an example. Joe uses his full body harness twice a year to climb to the ceiling level to inspect an air conditioning unit. Joe’s harness rarely comes into contact with any grime, or abrasives.
In contrast, Bill is a municipal worker. His job requires him to be lowered into city manholes daily and perform routine maintenance on sewage systems. Despite his best efforts, Bill’s harness is subjected to abrasive surfaces, dirt, and grime on a daily basis.
Obviously, Joe’s full-body harness is going to have a much greater service life than Bill’s. Moreover, Joe’s harness could last for many years without needing to be replaced.
Please…take the time each day to visually inspect your full-body harness. Passing your daily inspection is the only criteria for your harness to be fit for use.
A typical full-body harness can handle some wear and tear that is associated with a typical day on a construction site. When it comes to ending a harnesses service, you will need to keep an eye out for a number of conditions during your daily inspection.
Here are some examples of what to pay attention to during your daily visual inspection:
View OSHA’s full list of Harness Inspection Guidelines
Download FrenchCreek’s Harness Inspection Form
Joe took a fall today…Thankfully, he was wearing a full-body harness and had a proper fall protection system in place. Joe walked away relatively unscathed from his fall. Upon inspection, his harness seems to have little to no damage. Joe is good to continue using his current harness, right..?
NO JOE! If you take a fall in your harness you must remove it from service immediately. During a fall serious G-forces directly impact the harness. As a result, even the smallest falls can damage webbing and stitching. No matter how pristine your harness may look, it must be removed immediately after a fall.
Most of today’s harnesses include impact indicators to help users visually and quickly determine if the harness has been exposed to a fall. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to distinguish if your impact indicators have been deployed. In the case, they have been deployed, immediately remove your harness from service.
In conclusion, there is no mandated fall protection harness expiration date. The factors that influence your harness life span depend on the frequency of use, work environment, and harness care. The visual inspection of your harness is the criteria for safe use. Therefore, it is always your responsibility to keep yourself and your fellow workers safe. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to harnessing care and safe use.
No matter your job description, when working at height you’re going to need proper fall protection equipment. Check out FrenchCreek’s full line of fall protection harnesses. Easily search our harness inventory based on industry, features, and harness options. Request a quote today, or contact our sales team at 877.228.9327 with questions or more information.