You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you shouldn’t judge a fall protection system from its appearance either. In the course of our fall protection consulting work, we’ve seen a lot of really bad systems—some that were obviously wrong and some that looked great, but were easily failed.
When you require your workers to use active fall protection systems, ask yourself this: would you take a fall from this system? Are you that confident in the design, installation, equipment and inspection?
If you aren’t willing to take the fall, you shouldn’t ask your workers to either. Tied off doesn’t equal protection. There are too many opportunities for active fall protection systems to fail.
If you have an existing system that is questionable, you can have it assessed, and potentially certified, by a Qualified Person in fall protection. This is done by confirming that the design, installation, training and use of the system are correct. The ANSI Z359.6 standard explains the best practices for documenting and certifying active fall protection systems.
No matter how old a fall protection system is, its sole purpose is to save a falling worker. If the system is in use, but is not correct, it is only giving workers a false sense of security.
If you aren’t confident in your systems, fix them now, before a tragedy occurs.