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3M Fall Protection Safety Tip: Do you know how often you need to inspect your gear?

Inspection and Product Life for Fall Protection Products

Reputable manufacturers’ User Instructions state that fall protection products must be inspected prior to each use by the user, and annually by an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and or ANSI (American National Standards Institute) defined “competent person” other than the user. In line with U.S. OSHA inspection requirements, 3M does not apply a mandatory shelf-life or expiration date on our fall protection products, components, or systems.

  • CSA Z259.17:21 requires formal inspection by a competent person, as well as inspection prior to each use.
    • Equipment must be inspected by a competent person prior to initial use. Once in service, a formal inspection must be done and documented by a competent person at least annually, unless the manufacturer instructions require more frequent inspections. 
    • Additionally, users must inspect their equipment prior to every use.


  • U.S. OSHA 1910.140 and 1926.502 requires no formal inspection period, only inspection by the user before each use.
    • 1910.140(c)(18) Specifically states: Personal fall protection systems must be inspected before initial use during each work shift for mildew, wear, damage, and other deterioration, and defective components must be removed from service.
    • 1926.502(d)(21) Specifically states: Personal fall arrest systems shall be inspected prior to each use for wear, damage and other deterioration, and defective components shall be removed from service.


  • ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2017 states: Equipment training shall include instruction and performance assessments of personal fall protection equipment to include before-use inspection, assembly, use, disassembly and storage according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Do You Know the Right Way to Inspect Your Fall Protection Equipment?

Since the ANSI/ASSP Z359 standard is a voluntary national consensus standard, and the federal U.S. OSHA regulations do not prescribe a formal, documented inspection process, your company has some discretion in how to apply the applicable standards to your workplace.

Similarly, CSA Z259 provides guidance on fall protection equipment inspection, but it is also a voluntary standard and federal/provincial/territorial workplace health and safety legislation generally lacks specific inspection guidance.”

You may wish to consult your insurance carrier or your legal counsel regarding your liability and your company’s liability if you choose to use safety equipment in a manner inconsistent with the standards or from what is recommended by the manufacturer. 3M User Instructions do recommend annual inspection by a “competent person” other than the user. Please refer to your local standards or regulations for specific details regarding fall protection product life and inspection criteria.


NOTE: It is very important for the user to inspect their fall protection equipment before each use. At 3M, we strive to make our products easy and simple to inspect by providing detailed inspection guidelines and criteria within the User Instructions supplied with each product. As a resource tool, please check out our product inspection checklist.

For current User Instructions and other resources, please visit our website at Have questions about your fall protection or other personal protective equipment?  Contact our health and safety specialists to make sure you have the right personal protective equipment for your application.