So when last did you inspect your adventure PPE?
How often should we be inspecting all our PPE?
Regular inspections of the safety gear that is responsible for your life and the lives of those using your gear are essential. Today we turn to the gear inspection protocol that Singing Rock recommends. This makes our job easy with checklists specifically made for the different types and categories of your adventure equipment. Print these checklists out when you inspect your gear and make sure that you store them for future reference so that you can keep track of the life of each piece of equipment.
First things first, before we start an inspection of our gear we should prepare a few things.
- Move your gear to a well-lit area where you can see better.
- Dismantle all the gear (Remove anything that wasn’t built into the individual pieces of gear, carabiners, slings etc.)
- Demarcate a quarantine area, this is an area that you will put any gear that fails an inspection aside so that it does not get mixed up with the good gear.
- Get all your paperwork handy (All inspection sheets and last use reports so you can refer back to it if necessary)
- Grab your coffee and let’s start!
Your harness is possibly the most important feature in your adventure equipment kit so we will break down the gear inspection protocol for a harness in detail. First look for the unique identifier tag on your harness, this will show the unique number of your harness along with a manufacturer, product name, and date of manufacture. Remember to check the recommended discard date from your manufacturer as a harness can still look great if well cared for but fail due to old age. Here is a link to a PDF that shows where some of the unique markings are in our Singing Rock products:
- When we check the safety stitching we are looking for loose stitches, fraying stitching, and burnt stitching. In this case, we were happy with the quality of the stitching. Generally, critical stitching is marked in a different colour. We are allowed one lose the thread, anything more than 2 is considered a fail.
- when we check the harness straps we are looking for any sort of inconsistency. It could be chemical damage, burns, or frayed strapping. In this case, the load-bearing strapping is in good condition.
- Now for the non-load-bearing strapping. In our example, the harness was overall good but as I noted on the spreadsheet, there is a note about the strapping. Namely: the strapping behind the legs holding the waist belt to the leg loops have some fairly notable fraying. Now if we found the same level of fraying anywhere else on the harness we would instantly retire the harness but since these straps are not essential for the harness integrity we can just make a not and check it regularly.
Non-removable metal components:
- The metal components on our harness have sustained some rust damage but from the information that can be found in the blog about checking harness corrosion, we have concluded that the damage is just surface level nothing that a bit of sandpaper or steel brush can’t deal with.
- this harness we are looking at doesn’t feature a seat harness connector so this row does not apply to this harness.
- In the function check, we want to put the harness on and clip it onto a low-level system for safety’s sake. We can check and feel if everything is working together well, nothing is twisting, and that the harness is functional. In this case, it is.
- Next, we must check the speed buckle. This is located above the attachment point for the harness. In this case, we notice that there is significant rust damage inside the buckle and it is making the buckle detach when put under a load of any quantity. This is very bad and the harness needs to be retired.
- When testing the harness previously we noted that the adjustment buckles are working well and are correctly threaded. This is shown by the buckles not wanting to twist when the harness is put under load.
- Our verdict for this checklist is that the harness needs to be retired for the single reason that the speed buckle has failed. In this situation, the owner needs to invest in a new harness. It is a best practice to cut up the old harness so that it does not end up getting used by accident.
Now that we have gone through an example harness gear inspection protocol you can go and inspect your own gear using the same technique.
Rope and Lanyard Inspection: