What to Look for when Inspecting Fall Arrest Equipment

Fall arrest and height safety equipment is a critical part of getting workers who are working at heights (a fall from one level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury) home to their families each day. Like any equipment, Fall Arrest Equipment must be thoroughly inspected to ensure that it is still safe to use and is operational before carrying out any 'at height' work.


Workers who are using fall arrest equipment must visually inspect the equipment before and after use, also all equipment must undergo a visual inspection by a height safety equipment inspector every 6 months under AS1891.4:2009 Clause 9.3.4(a).


Here at Pro Safety and Training we emphasise the importance of having a good understanding of your equipment and its limitations as well as the need to visually inspect your gear. To help you do this we have come up with a short summary of some of the things you should be looking for when conducting a visual inspection of your equipment before use.



Your equipment could include:

  • Harnesses
  • Lanyards
  • Helmets
  • Ropes
  • Slings
  • Fall arrest devices


Before work take some time to visually inspect your gear. You will be looking for:



Shock loading


You will be looking for stitching that has pulled out or come loose, tears in the outer sheath, exposed inner fibres or deployed energy absorbers. In metal front or rear attachment points you may be looking for evidence of deformation or even cracks. Evidence of shock loading will reduce the strength of the equipment you are using significantly and could cause extreme failure.


This energy absorber has been used in a fall. It must not be used, be tagged out and discarded.


pulled out energy absorber





You will be looking for surface corrosion on D rings, carabiners and connection hooks and any other metal parts. Corrosion will weaken the equipment significantly and will reduce the functioning of the equipment.


Corrosion on a snap hook.








You will be looking for evidence of mould or discolouration. Moisture could have been caused by improper storage, sweating or working in wet or muddy conditions.





You will be able to see discolouration in the equipment and you may be able to smell the chemicals as well. These could be paints or oils or any other type of chemicals. It is hard to guess what effect chemicals will have on fall arrest equipment so it is vital to be able to identify evidence of exposure to chemicals.


This sling has had contact with chemicals. This reduces its strength and should no longer be used.







This will be in the form of frayed equipment or possibly even the inner fibre may be showing. Abrasion will weaken the strength significantly and will make equipment highly unsafe.


This sling has clearly been subjected to sharp edges, should not be used , and be discarded.







These will be seen either by black burn marks or a shiny surface indicating a friction burn. Burns could be cause from people smoking in harnesses, hot works such as welding or friction burns caused by rope access.


Welding spats have burnt this sling. The sling should not be used and be discarded.





UV Damage


This will be in the form of extreme loss of colour or fading. UV will affect all equipment exposed to the sun and will reduce the strength.



Within service date/ Inspected/ Functioning Correctly


The fall arrest equipment must be within its life cycle date and must have been inspected by a qualified height safety equipment inspector. The equipment must also be functional.


This sling expired in 2011, it is well and truly out of date and must not be used.





This snap hook does not close automatically when released and must not be used.








If the equipment you inspect shows any signs of the above it must be tagged out of service and reported to a supervisor or management. If you are ever unsure of any safety aspects of your equipment contact the manufacturer of your equipment for more in depth detail on equipment inspection.


When we conduct our Work safely at heights courses we always take some time for all students to do a complete inspection of their equipment to ensure it is safe to use. You can book onto our Work safely at heights course in Brisbane or Sydney here.



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