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Why inspection matters.

Inspecting fall protection equipment How proper inspection can help prevent falls at height

A fall from heights can be deadly. In 2013, there were more than 40 worker deaths that resulted from a fall from heights and over 14,000 recorded incidents of workplace injuries that were caused by falls in Canada. This is why it is crucial to take the time to properly inspect fall protection equipment to help prevent a fall from occurring.

Dispelling the myth

One of the industry’s biggest myths about equipment inspection is that if a self-retracting lifeline (SRL) has clear housing, it is easier to inspect. This is simply not the case. Myths like this cause confusion that can result in dangerous consequences for at-height workers.

While it may initially appear that a clear housing is beneficial to inspection, it does not contribute to the inspection because the procedure provided by CSA does not include inspection of any internal components of the SRL. The only person who may benefit from a clear housing would be a factory-certified inspector.

CSA Standard Z259.2.2-98

The CSA Group has strong standards for inspection that must be adhered to, regardless of the housing of the SRL. Because of their commitment to strict standards, the CSA standard for inspecting SRLs has recently changed. Previously, inspection intervals were based on time. Currently, the CSA standard pertains to frequency of use. Since certain workers use their SRLs infrequently throughout the year it did not make sense to send it back to be recertified each time it was used.

The CSA standard changed to reflect this concern and now SRL usage is broken into three categories:

  1. Infrequent to light usage – SRL is stored in good conditions, indoors and in clean environments. The SRL must be inspected prior to each use and annually inspected by a competent person and recertified every five years.
  2. Moderate to heavy usage – SRL experiences fair storage conditions, and is used both indoors and outdoors in clean or dusty environments of all temperatures. The SRL must be inspected prior to each use and annually or semi-annually by a competent person and recertified every two years.
  3. Severe to continuous usage – SRL experiences harsh storage conditions, prolonged outdoor use in all temperatures and dirty environments. The SRL must be inspected prior to each use and inspected quarterly or semi-annually by a competent person and recertified each year.

Regardless of the usage category the SRL falls under, CSA outlines that it must also be inspected by a competent professional no less frequently than the intervals required by the manufacturer. 3M requires SRL inspection once per year.

How to properly inspect an SRL

An SRL is a highly engineered device that needs to be inspected according to manufacturer and CSA standards. Properly inspecting an SRL prior to use is a straightforward process that only takes a couple minutes to complete.

How workers should inspect their SRL prior to each use:

  1. Check impact indicator to ensure the SRL has not suffered any falls.
  2. Check hardware to ensure it is not heavily corroded.
  3. Check conduit and webbing to make sure there are no cuts to the webbing. If the SRL has a cable, ensure there are no kinks or strands in the cable.
  4. Ensure the SRL activates and retracts properly.

For any other questions related to proper SRL inspection or inspection of other fall protection gear, please contact 3M Canada at 1-800-387-7484.