Anyone who has to work from a height will be or should be aware of current HSE regulations regarding fall arrest harnesses. It is vital that those involved are properly trained in the use of these harnesses and that they regularly inspect the harness for signs of wear or damage. After all, lack of training and ignorance of the way in which the harness works could lead to accidents and that would be disastrous for the employee and the employer. When you think about what these harnesses do, it makes sense that correct training is given and that full visual checks are performed.
This leaflet is mainly aimed at employers who are responsible for the use of fall
arrest equipment incorporating energy-absorbing lanyards made from webbing.
It gives generic advice on inspection regimes for this equipment where it is used
to provide protection against falls from a height. However, many of the principles
can also be applied to non-energy-absorbing lanyards and safety harnesses used
for the same purpose. They can also be applied to similar equipment made from
rope. The leaflet does not cover other equipment such as anchor points. Employers
should consult the manufacturer and/or supplier of the equipment for any productspecific
An energy-absorbing lanyard is a line for connecting a full body harness to an
anchorage point with an inbuilt device that reduces the impact of a fall. There is a
wide range of possible causes of degradation of synthetic fibres used in webbing
and rope lanyards (including abuse, general wear and tear, edge/surface damage,
ultraviolet light, dirt, grit, chemicals).
Research involving synthetic fibre webbing lanyards has confirmed a number of
the potential causes of degradation. It also highlighted that there is no well-defined
boundary (eg usable life) separating those lanyards that are safe and those that
are not (eg a 1 mm cut in the edge of a lanyard can result in a 5 to 40% loss of
strength depending on the make of lanyard being used). It is therefore essential that
if lanyards are to be maintained to provide the required level of protection they are
Inspecting fall protection equipment
Generic risk assessment: fall arrest equipment
Evaluation of fall arrest harness sizing schemes