Annual Lifeline Inspections: When You Need Them and What To Look For

March 28, 2014, 2:49 pm | by Ray Nardo

Training workers in how to make annual equipment inspections of horizontal lifelines.Conducting annual lifeline inspections goes hand in hand with proper training of your workers. Your equipment isn’t protecting anyone when it has missing, worn or defective components. Worse, it can create an unwarranted illusion of security. Installing fall protection equipment in your workplace is a great first step towards keeping your employees working at heights safe from fall hazards.

A yearly checkup conducted by a competent person is as crucial as any component or piece of equipment in a fall arrest system. The main purpose and objective of the examination is to make sure systems are fit for use, all the components are intact and – should an accident occur – that the equipment performs as intended.

Annual inspections help ensure the equipment being used is in proper working order to keep your workers safe. Although each authorized user is responsible for inspecting a system prior to each use, frequent exposure to a specific system can lead to a worker not recognizing a slow deterioration over time.

Annual Lifeline Inspections: OSHA Regulation Versus ANSI Guidelines

OSHA does not have a specific regulation when it comes to annual procedures. They only have a general duty clause stating a company should follow manufacturers’ instructions, which may include a yearly inspection requirement. This means that OSHA would not fine you for a lack of annual inspections in and of itself, however we would not want to be the one arguing that the requirement to provide a safe workplace was met if a worker was injured while using a non-performing fall arrest system that had never been inspected.

On the other hand, OSHA does have very strict requirements that all fall protection equipment must be inspected by an authorized user for visible wear or damage prior to each use.

ANSI, however, does provide a detailed requirement for annual lifeline inspections that is found in code Z359.2 – “Minimum Requirements For A Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program.”

Section states that, “Fall protection and fall rescue equipment shall be inspected on a regular basis not to exceed one year (or more frequently if required by manufacturer’s instructions) by a competent person or competent rescuer, as appropriate, to verify that the equipment is safe for use. The inspection shall be documented.”

Based on our experience, FallProof best practice recommends that our clients conduct annual inspections of all fall protection equipment.

What ANSI Looks For When Annual Lifeline Inspections are Conducted

The following, as outlined by ANSI guideline, is a list of items that should be looked for during the annual review:

  • Absence or illegibility of markings or tags
  • Absence of any elements affecting the equipment form, fit or function
  • Evidence of defects in, or damage to, hardware elements, including cracks, sharp edges, deformation, corrosion, chemical attack, excessive heating, alteration or excessive wear
  • Alteration, absence of parts or evidence of defects in, damage to or improper function of mechanical devices and connectors
  • Any other condition that calls to question the suitability of the equipment for its intended purpose

ANSI also states that you should keep written or electronic records on file for the service life of the equipment.

When you partner with an experienced fall safety provider, you get more than just a yearly examination of your lifeline systems. A capable partner also performs any necessary onsite repairs and replaces any bad components in your system.

Ready to find the right lifeline systems expert to conduct yearly inspections? Call us at 800-452-0222 to speak with one of our experts.

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