Your personal safety should be your highest priority, and therefore you must ensure your equipment is of sufficient standard and fit for purpose. We have compiled a list of general guidelines for when a harness is no longer considered safe and cannot be used:
For more detail on label inspection refer to point 1 in how do i inspect my harness?
Why?: Without a serial number you are unable to trace the harness or verify if the harness has been inspected and therefore cannot be sure if it will be safe.
Why?: If you do not have a manufacturing date, there is no way to confirm if the harness is within its 5 year working life.*
Why?: HSE guidelines recommend an inspection by a professional service every 6 months but PPE regulations require a minimum of 12 monthly inspections which should be recorded on the harness itself.
*unless the product is less than 12 months old
For more detail on Hardware inspection refer to point 2 in How do i inspect my harness?
When Checking any of the hardware (this means the "D" ring, plastic back plate, fasteners, web tidies, adjusters or connectors) ANY of the following will mean the harness should be removed from service and inspected by a professional or destroyed
Is any of the hardwear buckled, twisted or generally malformed?, this would be a good indicator if the harness has been used in a fall arrest senario and should not be used again as the stress from a fall could be enough to cause unseen damage to the harness
General Damage/Wear and tear
If you can see any kind of damage to the hardware however minor that has not been recorded in an inspection, you should remove the harness from service until a proffessional can confirm the extent of the damage
Cracking, Dents or Nicks
Are there any cracks, dents, nicks or stress lines in the hardware? if so, destroy the harness immediately. A harness needs only a single point of failure to cause an injury or fail in the event of a fall, as these areas are designed to direct the force along the webbing or directly absorb impact, any failure on these points could be disasterous
There is a certain allowance for this, 15% is the maximum tolerance and shouldn't be confused with area; the tolerance relates to surface penetration. If the harness has visible signs of rust or spotting this could still be fine; the general guideline is if you rub the rust between thumb and forefinger and are left with a residue, this exceeds 15% and should be removed from service
Discolouration could be an indication of damage; the harness should be inspected by a professional before being used again
A Burr on hardware could indicate a problem with the casting or an underlying issue. Remove the harness from service and do not re-issue it until it has been inspected and verified by a professional
For more detail on label inspection refer to point 3 in how do i inspect my harness?
When checking the harness webbing, if any of the following issues are found the harness needs to be removed from service to be checked by a professional or destroyed
Ultra Violet damage can be caused when the webbing is exposed to lengthly storage in direct sunlight which can weaken the webbing. A good indicator of UV damage is colour fading and the best way to check is to compare to a new harness. If discovered we recommend the harness is removed from service until inspected
Staining is a good indicator of chemical damage and can be confirmed if the webbing underneath is brittle or hardened. In general the guideline is: if the stain does not come out after washing the equipment is unfit for use, this includes permenant markers!
Chemicals that are harmful to harness webbing include:
ACETALDEHYDE, ACETIC ANHYDRIDE, ACRYLIC EMULSIONS (>140degs C), AMMONIA SOLUTION (>30% conc, >140degs C), AQUA REGIA, BUTYL ACETATE, CARBON TETRACHLORIDE, CHLOROACETIC ACID (>140degs C), FLUOSILLIC ACID, FORMIC ACID, HYDRAULIC OILS (Petroleum), HYDRBROMIC ACID, MRTHYL ALCAHOL, PERCHLORIC ACID, PICKLING BATHS (Sulphuric/Nitric), POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE, SODIUM HYDROXIDE, TOLUENE, XYLENE, ACETIC ACID, ACETONE, AMYL ACETATE, AMYL CHLORIDE, BENZENE, BUTYRIC ACID, CAUSTIC SODA (conc>140, CHLROBENZINE ETHYLALCAHOL, FORMALDEHYDE, HEXANE, HYDRAULIC OILS (Synthetic), HYDROFLUOSILLIC ACID, NITRIC ACID, PHOTOGRAPHIC SOLUTIONS, PLATING SOLUTIONS, SODA ASH, SULPHURIC ACID and TURPENTINE
Check the condition of the webbing by running your fingers down each strap and making sure it is complete and free from damage. If you find any remove the harness from service
Once you have finished the specific inspections, confirm that all the straps hang correctly, that there is no obvious damage, that all the stitching is present and that you feel comfortable using the item. If at any point you don't, then seek a replacement
Remember: all failed equipment should be destroyed so it cannot be put back into service