We live in an imperfect world, and it’s normal for things to go wrong. Accidents usually happen. Discussions surrounding the inevitable nature of accidents and injuries in the workplace are always accompanied by arguments that some of these incidents are completely non-preventable. In retrospect, arguments of such nature are in many instances uncalled for. Take for example the case of the occurrence of a manufacturing defect. While this can occur without any prior warning, the failure of equipment is attributed to poor planning or inspection or the lack of it altogether.
The majority of employees understand the importance of inspecting tools, scaffolds, and ladders. However, they prefer securing themselves to lifeline systems without giving it much thought. What most of them fail to appreciate is the fact that horizontal lifelines also need inspections and maintenance. What kind of inspection is done and when?
Appropriateness of the personal protective gear
A fall protection system is among the most critical parts of PPE. A full body harness, a restraint lanyard, anchor points and the connectors are the four most critical areas of the system. Minimal risk is ensured if all the four elements are appropriate to the job at hand and are also fully operational. The entire system could fail if one of the components is inappropriate. Sufficient inspection should be performed to make sure that all the elements of the system can comfortably handle the task being performed.
Proper functioning of the personal protective equipment
It is one thing to ensure that PPE is appropriate and another one to determine its functionality. Appropriateness entails determining if the gear or system is suitable for a given task. Another essential part of the inspection is to check if the components are working properly. This involves inspecting the parts to find out if there are any cuts, breakages or loose nuts and bolts. The functionality of the shock absorber should also be examined as it tends to deteriorate over time. A slight undetected or ignored fault in one of the parts of a lifeline system can mean the difference between saved and lost lives.
Inspections of this nature should be conducted on a regular basis. On average, the inspection of personal protective equipment should be carried out every six months or according to the recommendations of the manufacturers – depending on which one comes sooner. If working in extremely hazardous conditions, the inspection should be done after a minimum of three months. Managers, supervisors, and employees shouldn’t take checks of this nature lightly.