Inspecting Fall Restraint Systems

Inspecting Fall Restraint Systems

A fall restraint system has a simple job: save your life if you are in a risky situation – and happen to fall. Like most equipment, there are a number of ways it can be damaged when in use – or between uses. The trick is to find them BEFORE they cause the system to fail while being used.

As a general rule, never use a fall restraint system without giving it a thorough, item-by-item, end to end inspection. Double checking never hurts, either.

What to look for:

Harness, Belt, Lanyard

  • Look for manufacturer label that confirms ANSI design criteria.
  • Examine webbing for frayed edges, pulled or missing stitches, cuts, chemical damage or discoloration.


  • Look for hook and eye distortions, cracks, corrosion.
  • Latch should seat into the nose without binding and should not be distorted or obstructed.
  • Keeper spring should exert sufficient force to firmly close the keeper.
  • Keeper locks must prevent the keeper from opening when the keeper is closed.


  • Begin at one end and work to opposite end slowly.
  • Rotate the lanyard so that the entire circumference is checked.
  • Look for fuzzy, worn, broken fibers.
  • Changes in diameter indicate weak areas.
  • Have to be approved 5/8″ safety rope.
  • Webbing should not have additional punched holes.

Dee Rings

  • Look for distortion, cracks, breaks, rough or sharp edges.


  • Look for unusual wear, frayed or cut fibers, or distortion of the buckle.
  • Roller should turn freely in the frame.

Metal Grommets, Eyelets, Rivets and Other Metal Parts

  • Look for loose, distorted or broken grommets and eyelets.
  • Metal parts should not have sharp edges or be distorted.



Fall Restraint Gear: Trained Workers Only

Any fall restraint system is only as good as the person using it. Like many things, a little knowledge can be a big help.

In the case of fall restraint systems, it really takes a bit more than just a little knowledge. The knowledge, however, can save your life or prevent serious injury.

In fact, OSHA requires that all workers be trained before they can even use a harness.

Training is designed to not only prepare for use of the harness, but also to reduce the likelihood that the worker will be involved in an incident where it has to act to prevent falls.

  • What is a fall hazard?
  • How do you recognize one?
  • What are the various steps and procedures to avoid exposure to the hazard?
  • How do you minimize the hazards?

Of course, it takes an experienced and knowledgeable person to provide the training. OSHA requires a “competent person” for the task. That means the individual must have the knowledge and the ability to recognize the type of hazard involved, as well as the authority and power to correct any deficiencies they discover.

After the worker has been trained in fall hazards, the training moves on to the restraint system: what are the pieces, when to use, how to use, how to put it on and take it off, what are the capacities and limitations, how to make sure that it is in proper condition.

Retraining may be required in some cases, too:

  • When an employees doesn’t have proper understanding or skills.
  • If changes in the workplace make old training obsolete.
  • Any time the equipment being used changes.

Basic Rules for Restraint Systems:

  • The system must be inspected prior to each use for wear, damage, deterioration, and defective components.
  • Gear needs to be stored and maintained to prevent damage or deterioration.
  • It may not be altered or repaired, except by the manufacturer or a competent person.
  • Restraint systems can be used only for worker protection. May not be be used to hoist materials.
  • All components that have been subjected to impact loading shall be removed from service until inspected by a competent person.


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