Far too often, workers take off their harness & lanyard at the end of a shift or when taking a break and throw them in the back of a work van, locker. When leaving height safety equipment at the workface they are exposed to the elements: rain, heat, freezing temperatures, and direct sunlight. All of this can potentially result in serious damage. To properly care for your equipment, it is important to store and transport your harness and lanyard in a clean, cool, dry place free from direct sunlight. Remember the primary purpose of a harness and lanyard is to arrest a fall so why would anyone not respect it and look after it!?
The harness and Lanyard should be hung, so it doesn’t get crushed, bent, damp and dirty or torn by other objects in the storage area. Sharp objects and tools can damage the fibres of the webbing and harmful substances such as acids, alkalis, fuel, paints and solvents can cause harm to the polyester and nylon fibres. Any wetness of the equipment should be allowed to dry naturally away from direct heat.
Ensure that your storage area is not in direct sunlight or exposed to a heat source. The heat and UV rays can compromise the materials that make up your harness and lanyard. This also applies to other PPE, such as hardhats, as well. Extensive exposure to ultraviolet light can cause degradation of the fibres and could fail when they are needed most.
Store them somewhere where nobody else can get them. Somebody may pick them up and use them when you are not around and who knows what damage they may cause. At the very least, they’ll readjust your harness to fit them and, if you’re not diligent, you may end up putting on an improperly adjusted harness on your next shift. You can practically guarantee that somebody borrowing a harness and lanyard off the ground isn’t going to clean it before returning it – if they return it.
Your equipment should be cleaned on a regular basis. This helps to ensure that there is no substance on the harness and lanyard that could degrade the materials. It also ensures that you can properly see all parts of the equipment so you can do a thorough inspection.
You need to be careful when cleaning the equipment. Soaking the harness or lanyard, for instance, can cause potential damage to the fibres as they relax and re-tighten.
- Using bleach, chlorine or abrasives can also cause damage. To properly clean your equipment, follow these steps: Use a damp sponge (warm water only) to wipe away any residue on your straps and buckles.
- Then, use soap and water to work up lather on the straps. The soap should be nothing more than dish soap or laundry detergent. Do not use anything containing chlorine, bleach, or abrasives.
- Rinse the lather from the straps using a sponge with clean water. Remember, you are not SOAKING the harness or lanyard. That can cause damage. Finally, wipe the equipment and hang it to dry naturally away from direct heat. If you don’t hang it, you could be left with creases or other structural problems.