It is unlikely that your height safety equipment will ever be used to arrest a fall. Should that ever occur it is critical that it performs the task.
Too often, workers take off their harness at the end of a shift, toss it in the back of a work van, tool locker, or sometimes leave it lying around a job-site exposed to the elements. Improper storage and care for fall protection equipment may increase the likelihood that your fall arrest equipment will be unserviceable.
One of the most important pieces of equipment in your kit is arguably a storage bag. A good quality storage bag will protect your equipment from dust, UV radiation, sharp edges and other possible cause of damage.
The following recommendations will ensure that your PPE is in kept in excellent condition.
- Storage areas should be clean, dry and free of exposure to fumes, heat, direct ultra violet light, sunlight and corrosive elements.
- Store your harnesses and other equipment in a dry well-ventilated cabinet that can be locked to prevent unauthorised access.
- Avoid all contact with chemicals, solvents or petroleum products.
- Always store webbing products below 50 degrees Celsius. Heat may affect the performance of the webbing.
- Before storage wet harnesses must be dried in a protected area away from direct heat and other chemicals or fumes
Your equipment should be cleaned on a regular basis. This makes sure that there is no substance on the harness and lanyard that could degrade the webbing. It also ensures that you can properly see all parts of the equipment so you can do a thorough inspection. The manufacturers instructions should provide guidelines on how to wash their products.
While cleaning and storing your equipment may seem tedious or a waste of a precious few minutes it is cheap insurance should you ever go into free fall arrest.
To clean your harness and other webbing products follow these steps
- Use a damp sponge (warm water only) to wipe away any excess dirt.
- Use soap and water to work up a lather on the straps. Gently scrub the webbing. This should break down the dirt or other material on the webbing.
- Rinse thoroughly in clean water.
- Hang dry in a clean well ventilated area away from direct sunlight, chemical fumes and unauthorised persons.
- Always re-inspect you equipment before any further use. Any stains may indicate permanent damage to the webbing.
You need to be careful when cleaning the equipment. Using bleach, chlorine or abrasives can also cause damage. Use a pH balanced detergent that is free from bleach or other caustic additives.
As a general rule it is not recommended that equipment is machine-washed. If the manufacturer allows it, placed the equipment in a mesh bag to prevent entanglement and provide further protection.