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Safety Inspection: make your harness a habit

Inspection de la sécurité : prenez l'habitude de vous faire harnacher

Safety Inspection: don’t fear the inspector

We get it—no one likes a safety inspection. However, having fall arrest and other PPE inspected is a reality everyone in the industrial trades must face. Part of this fear comes from the thought they’ll find things wrong, but have you ever considered…inspectors aren’t trying to make your work more difficult? 

Though it seems that way at times, Inspectors see accidents on worksites that are very avoidable and often happen during routine parts of the work day. Simply put, they want to help you, help yourself.

Safety inspection ensures you maintain productivity, keep costs low and have everyone home safely at the end of the day.

Read on for essential tips from one of our Hercules SLR Inspector’s to make sure you’re always inspection-ready.

Training is Key

Our Inspectors have seen the benefit of hands-on training directly at the Hercules Training Academy.

“The rigging fundamentals course at the Training Academy was amazing—everyone loved it. The experience was vital, and gave me so much more insight into how the rigging hardware I inspect works on the job,” says Quincy Warner, an Inspector from Hamilton, Ontario.

“Safety training can be, for lack of a better word, boring—especially when it only focuses on bookwork. Training for fall protection and safety should take a hands-on approach. For example, strapping someone into a safety harness and letting them fall from a crane to demonstrate the benefits of fall protection tends to stick with them better than reading from a manual. Experience is a great teacher.”

Safety training and physically showing workers the importance of safety harnesses and fall protection like self-retracting lifelines (SRL’s) makes all the difference between them wearing it or not.

Video via 3M showing hands-on safety training 

Inspect the Worksite

Something our Inspectors can’t stress enough is surveying the land you’ll be working on. Assess the area, the job and the safety equipment you’ll need to complete it. What are your fall protection needs—a lanyard, SRL or rescue line? What are the provincial PPE and safety requirements in your region?

Scouting the ground is an important part of assessing. Is the ground wet, are there high winds, is the site elevated—how is weather going to impact the work you’re doing? For example, ironworkers or roofers with jobs in light rain can make the site slippery, which increases the risk for injury.

Our Inspectors recommend a tripod, 3-way winch and/or an SRL for workers in sewers or the gas industry (anyone in confined spaces and/or working with hazardous materials) so you can be lifted and get out as soon as possible. A great option for lifting are a SRL and winch meant specifically to lift—these can be purchased at a lower cost as a packaged deal, and when used properly won’t need repairs. 

Assessing the land of your worksite and wearing the recommended PPE for the job type makes all the difference during safety inspection.

Fall Protection: not a fashion accessory

Many workers don’t realize that just simply wearing your safety harness or SRL isn’t enough, and unfortunately, many managers don’t either.

“A common issue I had while inspecting SRL’s and fall protection were workers only putting their PPE on when I’d show up—which defeats the purpose. How do I know that their harness fits them properly, that the worker has been trained on its proper usage if wearing PPE only happens when the Inspector’s around?” explains Warner. He stresses the importance of knowing the function of each piece of equipment to ensure it’s used properly.

Continues Warner, “Once, I repaired an SRL for a customer. who then fell using it. When I opened the SRL up and examined how it was used on the site, I realized they weren’t using it properly and it wasn’t even hooked up properly. Simply training workers on proper equipment usage can save a lot of money in repairs, extensive paperwork, productivity and most importantly, can save lives.”

Workers should be familiar with the proper fall protection equipment to be lifted, lowered or to move horizontally.

Worker at height with safety harness and lanyard. 

Safety Inspection Reduces Costs

No matter what the outside looks like, the inside of a SRL always tells a story. Our inspectors often find issues when they cut open a SRL. The inside can show whether it was used in a fall, or used improperly. This often results in large bills, which are preventable with the right training.

For example, a large company may have around 20 fall protection units. On average, the bill to repair a SRL and tripod is about $1200. A stretched-out wire rope could cost nearly $800 to repair, and bent tripod legs are on average about $200 to repair. These repairs are often the result of using equipment improperly or for the wrong job.

For employers and project managers, safety can be a large financial cost that’s easy to reduce when you invest in the right training and equipment. 

Be your Own Inspector

Always have your PPE on you and make it a habit. Our Inspectors recommend always keeping your PPE in your work truck, like you would with any other tool. Treat your PPE like a car—to drive it safely, you must care and maintain for it.

To inspect your SRL:

  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.

See your PPE as something essential, not optional and you’ll always be prepared for safety inspection.