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Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Inspection and Maintenance


Caring for Equipment

When you use ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts, and fall-protection systems, you expect to get your job done safely. But do you pay attention to the condition of the equipment? Inspect the equipment frequently, keep it clean, store it properly, and it won't let you down.

Inspecting Systems

It is very important that you inspect the components of personal fall-arrest, restraint, or positioning-device systems for damage or excessive wear before and after each use. Replace any component that looks damaged. Don't use a personal fall-arrest system that has arrested a fall unless a competent person has determined that the system is safe to use.

1. How often should you inspect fall protection equipment?

a. At least weekly or more often
b. Whenever the equipment appears defective
c. Before and after each use
d. Prior to OSHA inspections

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Harness, Lifeline, and Anchorage

Inspect these components regularly. Review the table below that highlights what to look for.

Component What to Look for
Harness Webbing Frayed edges, broken fibers, pulled stitches, cuts, burns and chemical damage.
Harness D-rings Cracks, breaks, and rough or sharp edges; the D-ring should pivot easily
Harness Buckles
Excessive wear, frayed or cut fibers, broken stitching
Harness Grommets Loose, bent, or broken grommets, and punched holes not made by the manufacturer
Lifelines Wear or deterioration
Anchorages/Anchorage Connectors Look for abrasion and damaged threads or swages. Inspect stitching and loops on synthetic slings for cuts, cracks, or frayed and broken stitching. Look for excessive kinks or damaged steel fibers.

2. When should you replace a harness D-ring?

a. If it has cracks
b. If edges are smooth
c. If it pivots easily
d. If it has broken fibers

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A snaphook is a connector comprised of a hook-shaped member with a normally closed keeper, or similar arrangement, which may be opened to permit the hook to receive an object and, when released, automatically closes to retain the object. The snaphook must have a self-closing, self-locking keeper which remains closed and locked until unlocked and pressed open for connection or disconnection.

  • Look for cracks, excessive wear, deformation, and corrosion.
  • The snaphooks should open easily and self-closes and locks firmly.
  • Keeper locks must prevent the keeper from opening when it's closed.


Type of Lanyard What to Look for
Wire Rope Lanyard Cuts, frayed strands, or excessive wear
Web Lanyard Cuts, discoloration, cracks, frayed or broken stitching
Rope Lanyard Frayed or cut fibers- The entire length of the rope should have the same diameter
Shock-Absorbing Lanyard Cuts, discoloration, cracks, frayed or broken stitching. Remove a lanyard from service if any part of the warning label is exposed.

3. When should you replace a snaphook?

a. If it opens easily
b. If it has smooth edges
c. If it has corrosion on it
d. If it closes firmly

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Self-retracting lifelines need to be free of frays or tears.
(Click to enlarge)

Self-Retracting Lifelines

Look for cuts, frayed strands, or excessive wear in the line and damage to the housing. If the unit needs service, check the manufacturer's recommendations. Don't try to repair it yourself.

See more information about PFAS inspection and maintenance from Miller Fall Protection.

See more information about PFAS inspection and maintenance from Miller Fall Protection.

Guardrail Systems

Frequently inspect manila, plastic, or synthetic rope used for top rails or midrails to ensure that the rope meets the minimum strength and rail height requirements. [See 1926.502(b)]

Safety-Net Systems

Inspect safety nets for damage or deterioration weekly and after any event that could damage them. Remove defective components from service.

4. When should you replace a self-retracting lifeline?

a. The housing is visible
b. It has strands
c. You see normal wear
d. There are cuts in the line

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General: When inspecting ladders, generally look for loose steps or rungs (considered loose if they can be moved at all with the hand), loose nails, screws, bolts, or other metal parts. Look for cracked, split, or broken uprights, braces, or rungs, slivers on uprights, rungs, or steps. Also look for damaged or worn non-slip bases.

Step Ladders: On step ladders, make sure they are not wobbly (from side strain), have loose, bent or broken hinge spreaders, or loose hinges. Make sure the stop on hinge spreaders is not broken. Finally make sure the steps are not broken, split or worn.

Extension Ladders: On extension ladders, make sure the extension locks are not loose, broken, or missing. Make sure locks seat properly while extended, and make sure the rope is not worn, rotted, cut, or defective in any way.

5. When should you take a ladder out of service?

a. When you discover straight and strong uprights
b. When you can move the steps or rungs
c. When you see smooth steps with no slivers
d. When it has functional non-slip bases

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A competent person must inspect a scaffold and its components after it has been erected, before each shift, and after any event - including severe weather - that could damage it. The inspection should include the foundation, platform, guardrails, and access areas.

Suspension Scaffolds

A competent person must inspect suspension ropes before each shift and after any event that could damage them. Inspect and tighten wire rope clips to the manufacturer's recommendations at the start of each shift. Inspect manila or synthetic rope used for toprails or midrails frequently to ensure that it meets the minimum strength and rail height requirements.

6. When must a competent person inspect a scaffold and its components?

a. After it has been erected
b. After each shift
c. Before severe weather strikes
d. Only before OSHA inspects the scaffold

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Crane- and Derrick-Suspended Personnel Platforms

  • After the trial lift: Immediately after a trial lift, a competent person must inspect the rigging, personnel platform, and the base that supports the crane or derrick.
  • After proof testing: A competent person must inspect the platform and rigging immediately after they have been proof tested.

Summary: Inspecting, Cleaning, and Storing Fall-Protection Equipment

  • Always follow manufacturers' instructions and warnings.
  • Always inspect equipment before using it. Look for damaged or missing parts. Labels, warnings, and other instructions should be readable.
  • If equipment looks like it needs repair, remove it from service and have a competent person examine it.
  • Have a competent person inspect equipment regularly.
  • Mark equipment with a unique code or item number. Identification numbers make it easier to keep track of the equipment and to document maintenance or repair.
  • Wash synthetic rope and body harnesses in soapy water to remove dirt; rinse them with clean water. Air-dry at room temperature. Don't use cleaning solvents; solvents can damage synthetic material.
  • Don't lubricate moving parts unless the manufacturer requires it; lubricants attract dirt.
  • Don't remove information labels and warnings; make sure they're still legible after cleaning.
  • Follow manufacturer's instruction for storing equipment.
  • Store equipment in an area that is clean, dry, and moisture-free; avoid excessive heat, light, oil, and corrosive chemicals.

More information on cleaning and inspection of fall protection equipment.

7. When must a crane or derrick that is lifting a personnel platform be inspected?

a. Before proof testing
b. Before the trial lift
c. After personnel are lifted
d. After the trial lift

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.



If you have time, watch this 2-hour Fundamentals of Fall Protection training course by Oregon OSHA.

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