If your company is safety-conscious enough to know that you need a safety at height installation, the chances are that you also understand the need for it to be regularly inspected too.
Inspections are a formal exercise to check that the equipment is installed as specified, fit for purpose and safe for use.
It’s also important to know that this is much more than a box-ticking exercise, however. This blog aims to help you find out more about the inspections process, making it easier for you to remain compliant and making the whole thing less onerous.
What is a Safety at Height Inspection?
Like many hazardous areas of a building, safety at height equipment needs to be inspected regularly to ensure that it is safe to use and doing its job properly. It’s similar to checking a gas boiler for leaks and harmful emissions, for example, or an annual service to ensure your fire alarm is fully operational.
A safety inspection is an essential part of due diligence for any building where maintenance teams or personnel of any kind may have reason to access the roof now or in the future and in most cases a legal requirement. This may be the responsibility of:
- The building owner
- The building occupier
- The building’s management company
- The building’s facilities management provider
It is important to know where the responsibility lies and essential that records are kept to provide clear verification of inspections and compliance.
Why does my Safety at Height Equipment Need an Inspection?
Even if the equipment has been installed by a reputable safety at height specialist and fully commissioned by them during the time for which you have been responsible for the building, the installation still requires an annual or 6 monthly inspections to maintain compliance with health & safety legislation.
This is due to a number of factors that could affect the safety of the installation. Such as:
- Your maintenance regimes may have changed, with more operatives required on the roof for longer, for example, which may necessitate a more wide-ranging or robust safety at height system
- Weathering of structural movement may have damaged the integrity of the fixings
- Wear and tear over time may affect the suitability of the installation
Safety at height equipment is built to last in an exposed rooftop environment, but an inspection is required to ensure that it still meets the standard of safety required for the activities that will be undertaken on the roof.
What are the Pitfalls?
Inspections of safety at height equipment are often viewed as an unpalatable business expense and there is a tendency to go for the lowest possible quote. However, while you may not see the added value in a passed inspection, you will certainly pay the price if your equipment fails.
This is because the company carrying out the inspection needs to know the specific system you have and be authorised to install and maintain it. If you have a premium brand horizontal safety line system, for example, such as an MSA Latchways product, you will need to employ an MSA Latchways-authorised installer, like Altus Safety, to inspect it. This is because a non-authorised inspector may be able to find fault with your safety at height equipment and inform you that your system is no longer compliant, but they will not be able to fix the problem because they are not authorised to buy or install the product.
In this scenario, you have two choices:
- Strip out the existing installation and have a new system installed
- Call in an MSA Latchways authorised installer to carry out the required maintenance/upgrade work
If you need to call in a second company because the first was not authorised, you may face delays in becoming compliant while you wait for the second company to attend site, which could affect planned maintenance programmes, ad hoc maintenance requirements and insurances.
You will also have to pay for a second inspection as any safety at height specialist will need to carry out their own inspection before undertaking remediation work, rather than relying on the observations of others.
Taking all this into account, opting for the cheapest price for an inspection could come at a high price.
Our Advice for Fuss-Free Safety at Height Inspections
Even if you have no current or short-term plans for maintenance or servicing of your roof or rooftop plant, it’s vital to ensure that your safety at height equipment is compliant at all times so you should never put off an inspection of your safety at height installation.
After all, the need for reactive maintenance can occur at any time: it’s not advisable to assume that your safety at height equipment will pass an inspection at the last minute or that you’ll be able to find a reputable company to carry out an inspection at short notice.
Rather than viewing safety at height equipment inspections as a nuisance and an expense, the best advice is to take out a service agreement that allows you to outsource responsibility for the compliance of your installation.
At Altus Safety, we provide a service agreement like this for many of our customers, scheduling their inspections for them and simply notifying them when an inspection is due so that we can arrange a convenient time to attend site. In this way, we can manage their compliance obligations for them and keep all the paperwork on file. Meanwhile, they can be sure of reliable service from trained and experienced experts.