Using height safety equipment obviously wears it down over time, so if your company has found itself with equipment that hasn't been used for a while, you may think the equipment doesn't need to be inspected to ensure it's in good shape. Even if it was already inspected a while ago, though, you still need to put it through periodic inspections despite the fact that it hasn't been used since then. While use is one of the main factors in equipment wearing out, it can develop wear for other reasons.
While any equipment can develop wear, it's particularly dangerous for height safety equipment because that equipment needs to be able to hold a large amount of weight. If it's worn, if parts are cracking and breaking, the equipment could snap. That would leave you in a precarious position. Inspecting the equipment to ensure it's in good shape is necessary.
Even Practice And Training Runs Can Affect Equipment Condition
If you've had practice runs in which the equipment was truly used, that will contribute to wear and tear. But even if you just got the equipment out of its storage cabinet and moved it around, you'd still need to treat it as having been exposed to impacts and scrapes that could affect connections and material integrity. Cables that were unfurled and re-coiled, packs that may have been dragged across a warehouse floor — none of that seems rough, but it can all contribute to sections of the equipment wearing down. And, if you touch the materials with your bare hands, your normal skin oils could affect some materials. For example, a buildup of normal skin oils can cause leather to degrade over time. You want to ensure there are no weak spots in the gloves that might be part of the safety gear, for example.
The Weather And Storage Conditions Are Additional Factors
If any of the equipment is exposed to sun, rain or another weather or environmental condition, it can degrade without being used. UV rays cause materials to break down or become brittle, excessive humidity can lead to mould, and freezing cold conditions that exceed the tolerance levels of the equipment can cause fabrics and plastics to fray and crack, to name a few issues. Ideal storage conditions may not be the same for each piece of equipment, so you may have to store some separately from other pieces.
Remember that storage isn't just a cabinet or warehouse. A cable hung on the side of a truck used to travel around the worksite counts as being stored somewhere. And in fact, equipment like that needs to be inspected more often as it will have almost constant exposure to UV rays unless it's kept in a box and protected.
You can inspect the equipment for the most part, but you may want to have a third party inspect everything periodically to ensure the equipment is up to current standards. It's better to have someone who is not familiar with what your equipment has been through take a look. They can give you an unbiased assessment of the equipment's condition.
Reach out to a service that offers height safety equipment inspections to learn more.