The Guardian Fall Team Blog

March 23rd, 2011

Before you put on any sort of fall protection, OSHA requires that you inspect it. While this is often mentioned, there’s little talk of exactly how you should inspect your equipment. A lot of this may be common sense, but it never hurts to get a refresher.

FIRST! – Remember, when inspecting any fall protection equipment; ALWAYS start at one end of the harness. NEVER begin in the middle.


Webbing – Checking the webbing for frays, cuts, burns, or broken stitches. Put your hands about eight inches apart on the webbing and bend it. This will make damaged areas easier to see. Go through the entire harness in this way and you’ll find any problems with the webbing.

Stitching – Every harness has a lot of stitching and you’re going to want to look at all of it. Look for pulled or ripped stitches. Bad stitches can be as bad as not wearing a harness.

D-Rings – Check each D-Ring for cracks, distortion, or sharp edges. The D-Ring should move easily. While you’re at it, check to see that the attachment point of the D-Ring is secure.

Buckles – Look for any distortion or damage. Make sure each buckle operates as it should. On tongue buckles you want to make sure that the tongue and roller move freely.

Labels – While it’s not a structural component of the harness, it’s important to check that the label on the harness is clear and legible. If it is fading, feel free to write over it. Remember the Date of First Use must be within the last five years. If there is no date of first use on the label, refer to the manufacture date.


Snaphooks – Inspect each snap hook, for any damage, rust, distortion, or corrosion. Make sure that the snap hook gate opens and closes freely and locks securely with adequate pressure.

Shock Absorber – Check the shock absorber for any damage and to see if it has been activated.

Webbing – Much like the harness, you’ll want to check for frays, cuts, burns, or any other damage. Remember, bending the webbing will make it easier to inspect.

Stitching – Look at the stitching to insure there are no loose or missing threads.

Label – Just like the harness, you want to make sure the label is clear and that you are using the harness within five years of the Date of First Use. Without a Date of First Use, you must refer to the manufacture date.


Case – Check the casing for any cracks, loose fittings, or corrosion.

Snaphook – Look for damage, rust, distortion, or corrosion. Insure that the snap hook operates freely and locks securely with adequate pressure.

Line – Check the rope, cable, or webbing for any distortions, fraying, cuts, or any other damage. Make sure it comes all the way out, and retracts smoothly and completely, with adequate, even pressure

Shock Absorber – If a shock absorber is attached, check it for damage or activation.

Impact Indicator – If an impact indicator is equipped, check to make sure it hasn’t been activated.

Brake Check – Pull the line with a quick sharp action to ensure brakes lock up.

Label – Check that the label is intact and legible.


Anchor Point – Check for signs of damage, rust, or corrosion.

Limitation – Insure that the anchorage point is capable of a 5,000 pound load or has been designed, engineered, and installed to maintain a 2 to 1 safety factor.

Access – Make sure the anchorage point is easily accessible.

Clearance – Check to insure that adequate clearance in case of a fall.

On-Going Product Care

If your inspection turns up any problems, be sure to take the equipment out of service. Even a relatively small problem can turn into a fatal one in the event of a fall.

In addition to inspecting your equipment, there are a handful of maintenance practices that will give your equipment longer life and more reliability.

Storage – Store your equipment in a cool, dry area, away from heat sources and sunlight.

Hanging – If at all possible, hang your equipment, being sure that leg straps don’t touch the floor.

Cleaning – Most fall protection can be cleaned using a mild soap, sponge, and warm water. Air dry only. DO NOT use dry cleaning, industrial solvents, or excessive heat.

Of course different fall protection has different specific needs, but these guidelines give you a good idea of what should be covered in most inspections of fall protection equipment.