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Personal fall protection: what does the law say?

Posted 15th May


We all understand the importance of proper vehicle maintenance. If you don’t get your car regularly inspected by a qualified mechanic, chances are, it will break down and cause serious problems, or even an accident.


So if this rule applies to cars, why wouldn’t it apply to your fall protection equipment?


Do you have a personal system?

Chances are, you will have some form of protection on your roof, either in the form of a collective system such as guardrail  or a personal system such as a lifeline. If you are the owner of the building, or the building manager, then you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of anyone who accesses your premises.


Ensuring the safety of those working on your roof requires a lot more than installing a system and forgetting it’s there, and this is even more important in the case of a personal protective system - these systems contain many moving parts, and are far more prone to failure.


Personal systems usually consist of an anchor point, a lanyard and a full body harness. It is not uncommon for fall protection systems such as these to be removed, damaged or tampered with, or in some cases for the system to have already been deployed.


Legislation

Once a system such as a lifeline or eyebolt has been installed, it is vital that it is regularly inspected and recertified to make sure it is in good working order, and will serve its purpose should a fall occur.


Despite what some believe, regular maintenance and recertification is not just a matter of being proactive. Ensuring your fall protection system is regularly inspected, maintained and recertified is a legal requirement.


                                                       

Various regulations make proper inspection and recertification a priority including:

  • Work at Height Regulations

  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations

  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations

  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations

  • BS EN 7883: Code of practice for the design, selection, installation, use and maintenance of anchor devices conforming to B EN 795

  • BS EN 365: Personal Protective Equipment Against Falls From a Height.


All of these regulations put the onus of responsibility on those charge with the care of those accessing the roof of a building. If this is you, and your system fails to stop a fall due to poor maintenance, you could find yourself in hot water.


Inspection and recertification

A thorough independent inspection of the system should always be carried out by a competent person before each use. You should look for any damage or wear and tear in the harness, lanyard or anchor, as well as any damage to the fittings due to wear or corrosion.


Most importantly, however, you are legally required to have your system fully inspected and recertified by a competent third party at the very least every twelve months. A full inspection would include:

  • A detailed check of structural connections

  • Pull testing of swage terminations

  • Inspection of all shock absorbers

  • Full inspection of the cable, fixings and components for damage or wear

  • Pull test of fixings to concrete/brickwork or structure

  • Retensioning of cable where required

  • In case of a kernmantel rope, checking the sheath and core for rucking


Steadfast Anglia offers a full inspection and recertification service. We will come to your site and carry out a comprehensive inspection of your equipment and associated PPE. Our skilled engineers will be able to either certify your system or advise you to replace it, as well as suggesting the most suitable replacement, removing the risk of uncertainty and providing you with peace of mind.

 

The risk

Though collective systems such as guardrail are preferable according to the work at height hierarchy, personal systems can still be an effective and safe solution where these are not practicable, but only if they are properly inspected, maintained and recertified.


If an accident does occur and it is found that your system hasn’t been maintained and inspected properly, you could be held accountable. Is it worth the risk?


For more information on Steadfast’s inspection and recertification service, click here or call us on 01473 834 144.



by Carolyn Campbell