Lanyard Inspection for Working at Height – Part One

Lanyard Inspection for Working at Height – Part One

29th June 2016

Employers here in the UK have a duty of care towards all of their employees – this is a legal requirement that’s unavoidable.  Construction sector companies often employ people to work at height, one of the most dangerous tasks in the working world – working at height remains the biggest cause of death and serious injury in the workplace here in the UK.  Employers of those who work at height need to equip their workers with the correct safety equipment for the task at hand – whether it be ladders, scaffolding, work platforms or fall protection equipment.  The employer or business owner also has full responsibility for ensuring that all of this access equipment is inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it’s fit for purpose at any given time. 

Today we’re going to take a look at inspecting fall arrest equipment (for use with fall protection posts) made from webbing or rope.  We’ll be covering energy absorbing lanyards made from webbing, non-energy absorbing lanyards and safety harnesses and similar items made from rope.

An energy-absorbing lanyard is a line that connects a full body harness to an anchoring point with an inbuilt device that reduces the impact of a fall.  Webbing is usually made from synthetic fibres which will deteriorate over time due to general wear and tear, edge/surface damage, ultraviolet light, dirt, grit and chemicals. 

Any business owner who supplies lanyards to workers must ensure that a competent person establishes a regime for regular inspection of lanyards and this should include:

·         Lanyards to be inspected, including each one’s unique identification

·         The type and frequency of inspection (this should cover pre-use checks, detailed inspections and, if appropriate, interim inspections).

·         The designated competent person who will carry out the inspections.

·         What action should be taken on finding defective lanyards.

·         A means of recording the inspections and storing this information for future use.

·         The training of personnel who use the lanyards.

·         A means of monitoring the inspection regime to ensure that inspections are carried out accordingly.

When inspecting lanyards, here are some examples of damage or defects that you need to be on the lookout for:

·         Surface abrasion across the face of the webbing and/or at the webbing loops, particularly if localised.

·         Abrasion at the edges, particularly if localised.

·         Cuts of 1 mm or more at the edges of webbing lanyards (e.g., where the lanyard may have been choke-hitched around steelwork).

·         Damage to the stitching – such as cuts or abrasions.

·         A knot in the lanyard (other than knots intended by the manufacturer of the equipment).

·         Exposure to chemical attack which may result in local weakening and softening – this can often be identified by flaking on the surface and/or a change in colour of the fibres.

·         Ultraviolet degradation is difficult to identify visually but there could be some loss of colour and a powdery surface.

·         Heat or friction damage which is indicated by fibres with a glazed (or melted) appearance which feel harder than the surrounding fibres.

·         Contamination with dirt, grit, sand, etc. which can result in internal or external abrasion damage.

Partially deployed energy absorber (e.g. short pull-out of tear webbing).

Part Two of this blog post deals with withdrawing lanyards from use.