When it comes to a boiler or a car, we all understand the importance of regular maintenance and servicing. These help guarantee the life of the boiler or car and ensure they are safe. Fall protection systems are exactly the same; once a system has been installed it should be regularly maintained and serviced so you can be sure that the system won’t fail if someone falls.
Inspection and recertification of these systems is much more than just ticking a box and issuing a certificate. Once installed you are legally required to ensure that the system is safe to use at all times. If a system is found to be faulty or uncertified after an accident then you could be held accountable.
Fall Arrest/Restraint Systems
These systems typically consist of an anchor point, a lanyard (fixed length if the system is fall restraint) and a fully body harness. It’s not uncommon for fall protection systems such as these to be removed, damaged or tampered with, or even for the system to be deployed. As a result they must be inspected regularly and recertified in order to ensure that they are safe to use.
The frequency of inspections and recertification will depend upon the system, frequency of use and environment. As as a rule we recommend that visual inspections are carried out before each use and that recertification is carried out at least every twelve months.
Inspection and rectification of equipment must only be carried out by a competent person and should include a full inspection of the system and associated PPE
Making sure a system is safe to use doesn’t end with inspection and recertification. Everyone using the fall protection system must be trained, this includes not only employees but also anyone under your control such as contractors. All those using the fall protection systems must also be aware of the correct PPE combination.
Collective measures such as guardrails are the preferred option when it comes to fall protection as they don’t require user participation. However, this means that those working on an area with edge protection won’t necessarily have had work at height training so you need to be confident that the system is safe, will prevent them from accessing the roof edge or fall area and that the system meets current requirements.
Although guardrails are durable, faults can occur. Competent inspection should pick up any component or system fault but also identify additional issues that could potentially cause a problem. For example, contractors and maintenance operators may remove a rail on the system while installing new equipment, modify the system or connect additional equipment such as aerials to the guardrail. While actions such as these may seem insignificant, they can have a serious impact on the system’s performance.
If a system has been installed for a number of years, you may also find that over time additional equipment such as air conditioning units or air vents have been installed outside the area protected by the edge protection. If this is the case, it’s likely that maintenance engineers are working in unprotected areas.
Whether it’s a fall restraint/fall arrest system or a rooftop guardrail, fall protection systems are vital pieces of equipment when it comes to work at height. Your responsibility to providing a safe working environment does not end when you have a system installed. Equipment must be maintained at least once a year by a competent person/company and all those using the system must have the appropriate level of instruction, supervision and training. If an accident does occur and the system hasn’t been maintained and inspected properly, you could be held accountable, especially if it’s found to be faulty and/or uncertified.
If you are unsure whether your fall protection system is compliant, or you haven’t had it inspected for over a year, call our recertification experts on tel: 046 92 4177