Because uncared for height safety PPE isn’t safe on site!
Falls are a common cause of death and serious injury in Australian workplaces, particularly in construction where it is the most common cause of death and accounts for half of total hospitalisations. While there has been a decrease in the fatality rate over the past 20 years, it is still a serious issue, with 232 workers dying from a fall from height during the eight-year period of 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011. That’s 29 workers each year and 11 percent of workers killed during this period.
Harnesses and other height safety gear should be cleaned regularly to minimise odour build-up, increase service life and remove any potentially degrading materials.
And before you dunk your safety harness in strong chemicals like bleach, think again!
Paul Bozkurt is the National Category Manager at LINQ Height Safety Gear and instead, he suggests gentle dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent mixed with warm water to clean harnesses.
“Wipe it down with a sponge, dry it off and hang it up to dry,” Bozkurt said.
Avoid a Smelly Harness:
If harnesses are exposed to grease, oil and dirt then they are often decommissioned during inspections as they are seen as too dirty. The same applies to harnesses that get wet from either from rain, sweat or other moisture exposure.
“The main issue with a harness that is kept wet is the resulting smell. When harnesses start to smell they are generally discarded. This is the same for harnesses that absorb sweat in hot and humid environments.” Bozkurt said.
“Where a single harness is being used by multiple workers, this can also pose a hygiene problem with cross contamination.”
Harnesses should always be inspected before use and must be inspected by a height safety equipment inspector every six months or as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Storing height safety gear:
Harnesses and other height safety gear are often incorrectly stored which can reduce their serviceability and potentially their ability to save your life in the event of a fall.
Bozkurt said that when not in use, height safety gear must be hung in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area free from chemicals, high temperatures, sunlight and other forms of UV. He also suggested keeping it in a location where others will not use it and it will not be crushed or damaged by sharp objects.
He added that some harnesses and other webbing products should be dry before they are stored.
“Because harnesses are often stored undercover and out of the sun, this can hinder them from drying out completely,” he said, adding that this is what leads to the harness smelling.
When in transit between jobs, Bozkurt recommended storing harnesses and other height safety gear in a quality storage bag.
To see more tips on harness safety, head to prochoice.com.au.