ArborTimes Fall 2022

Complete equipment inspection training is a requirement in ANSI Z133. Photo courtesy of Mike Tilford.

als, and attachment points involving screws. Despite this, the inspection process has not changed much. Start with the bridge, or main attachment point. Harness bridges are commonly failed during gear inspection. Gener- ally, textile inspection is similar for a harness bridge, rope, work position- ing lanyard and friction-hitch cordage. Check for cuts and frays. An important question to consider is whether the bridge material matches manufacturer specifications for the harness. Not ev- ery piece of cordage that meets break- ing-strength requirements in Z133 fits the purpose of a harness bridge. Web- bing, straps and buckles must all be checked too. Do the buckles correctly latch every time? What condition are the straps in? Move the harness around to check. Many modern harnesses have wear points that run through rings, necessitating moving parts around to

check the condition of otherwise hid- den straps. Rope and cordage. There are many rope and cordage options on the mar- ket, including three-strand, 12-strand, 16-strand, 24-strand, 32-strand, 48-strand, hollow-braid, single-braid, double-braid and kernmantle. Fortunate- ly, the inspection criteria are similar for all types. The two pieces of equipment most commonly needing retirement are work-positioning lanyards and the ends of rope close to a splice. Climbers tend to justify keeping a rope past its usable condition because a splice is a useful feature with modern systems and de- vices. Work-positioning lanyards take abuse from handsaw cuts and tend to get hung up on chain saws while traversing through the canopy. Again, tactile and vi- sual inspection should be adequate to un- cover any defects. One oen overlooked trait of rope and cordage ready for retire- ment is irregular diameter. This can be an indication that the rope was overloaded at some point. As for how many strands can be cut before retirement, it depends on the manufacturer and construction of the rope. Check the manufacturer’s spec- ifications for answers. Connective links. Frames need to be checked for cracks, pitting, excessive wear and corrosion. The most common reason for retirement is gate function. The gate must automatically close com- pletely, every time, from all opening dis- tances. A good way to test gate function is to open the gate only slightly several times, rather than the full distance of the hinge. If the gate is contacting the nose of the carabiner when closing, it

Inspect all moving parts of components for proper function. Photo courtesy of Mike Tilford.

may mean that the carabiner has been loaded incorrectly and misaligned the gate. You can clean a carabiner that is not performing to standard. Check the manufacturer’s documentation for guidelines on proper cleaning proce- dures, general maintenance and the correct type of lubricant. Graphite pow- der used to be the industry standard, but manufacturers have been moving away from that recommendation. Fall protection equipment inspection is not a should, it is a shall. Users and employers are obligated to ensure that PPE is in safe working condition prior to use. When equipment safety and us- ability is questionable, the best course of action is to replace it. Replacing equipment is an easy decision when the alternative is an employee being injured due to a fall. Mike Tilford is the director of gener- al tree care for SavATree. He is an ISA Certified Arborist, Municipal Specialist and Tree Worker Climber Specialist, as well as a TCIA Certi- fied Treecare Safety Professional. He serves as head technician for ITCC, presents and trains at regional con- ferences and is a voting member of the Z133 committee.

Inspection of gates for proper function on rope snaps is required for all connective links. Photo courtesy of Mike Tilford.

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