It may seem hard to believe, but safety equipment has an expiration date. We all understand that milk, meat, and even bottled water can expire – but a safety harness? Yes, it’s true! Your Protecta safety harness has a shelf life to keep you as safe as possible. You can inspect your harness on a regular basis to look for frayed webbing or tarnished connections, but most manufacturers agree that five years is the lifespan for a personal protection fall harness. But why five years? If the harness looks okay, surely it’s safe to use, right? Well, maybe. Let’s learn more about the five-year-rule below.
Visual Inspections and Potential Risks
You take good care of your harness, it shows no wear, and has only been used on occasion but you still keep hearing that it should be replaced after 5 years. Why?
- Warranties on a majority of safety harnesses are only good for five years after the manufacture date. This ensures the webbing, buckles, and clasps meet current safety guidelines and industrial standards.
- Constant wear from metal on metal friction of your lanyard clasp to your harness D ring can cause those areas to be weaker after five years’ time. In the event of a fall, the wear in this area could be the fail point leading to your injury or worse.
- Five years’ worth of exposure to sunlight, moisture, chemicals or other substances throughout the normal work life may cause it to become structurally weak. Visual inspections may not be enough to notice brittle areas of the fabric or metal.
In addition to common wear and tear, in the event of a fall, a harness should be replaced immediately. Once it has been subjected to that force, the webbing and metal components are no longer deemed safe. A second fall may not be protected.
Official Regulatory Inspections
Some companies require regular inspections of their safety equipment to meet local and National regulations. These inspections may deem a harness unsafe or at the end of its life, even if it has not been subjected to any falls. These inspections are based on a range of tests, but the inspectors are well trained and current on all OSHA and other regulatory standards. Replacing a harness may seem like an unnecessary cost out of your pocket when the old harness looks just fine. However, it can’t beat the peace of mind knowing it will perform at it’s best if you fall, and that should be worth any price.