Understanding the Lifespan, Inspection, and Maintenance of Height-Safety PPE in Australia


An Anchor Safe height safety specialist in a full body harness connects to a height safety lanyard

Understanding the lifespan and maintenance of height-safety Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is paramount. This equipment, designed to protect Australian workers from height-related hazards, has a defined service life influenced by factors such as usage, maintenance, and adherence to national standards. This article delves into the intricacies of height-safety PPE in Australia, shedding light on its expected lifespan, the importance of regular inspections, and the role of Australian Standards in ensuring worker safety.

How Long Can Height-Safety PPE Stay in Service?

The maximum lifespan of height-safety Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Australia is 10 years from the date of manufacture. However, most harnesses and lanyards should not be expected to last the full 10 years due to wear and tear from normal use. Depending on its type, usage, and maintenance, height safety PPE will last an average of 5 to 10 years before requiring replacement. 

Height-safety PPE must be checked before and after each use and inspected by a qualified equipment inspector every six months. PPE may be tagged “out of service” due to signs of mistreatment, dirt and oil build-up or damage. As per AS/NZS 1981.4 – 2009, once the ‘remove from service’ date has been reached OR if the PPE has been involved in arresting or preventing a fall it must be taken out of service and destroyed.

Key Factors Determining Height-Safety PPE Lifespan

Types of Equipment:

Not all PPE is made equal. The quality of the manufacturing and the components used in the PPE may impact its service life span.

Frequency of Use:

PPE used daily wears out faster than something used occasionally.

Maintenance and Storage:

Proper care, cleaning and routine maintenance can significantly extend the life of your equipment.

Australian Standards and Regulations:

The Australian Standards (AS/NZS 1891.4) govern the usage of height-safety equipment. In accordance with these standards, PPE showing any signs of significant wear, damage, or defect should be immediately removed from service.

An Anchor Safe height safety specialist wearing a full body harness

 AS/NZS 1891.4:2009 Requirements for Inspection



REFERENCE AS/NZS 1891.4.2009


Personal equipment including harnesses, lanyards, connectors,
fall arrest devices including
common use devices
Clause 9.2 Before and after each use.
By a height safety operator or – if not competent – by another competent person.
Harnesses, lanyards, associated personal
Fall arrest devices (external inspection only)
Ropes and slings
Clause 9.3.2
Clause 9.3.4(a)
Clause 9.7
6 monthly inspections.
By a height safety equipment inspector
Anchorages – Drilled in type or attached
to timber frames
Anchorages – Other types
Clause 9.3.3
Clause 9.3.3
12 monthly inspection
As recommended by manufacturer to a maximum of 5 years
12 monthly inspection in the absence of such recommendation
By a height safety equipment inspector
Fall arrest devices – Full service Clause 9.3.4(b) As recommended by manufacturer to a maximum of 5 years
12 monthly service in the absence of such recommendation
By a height safety equipment inspector
Horizontal and Vertical Lifelines – steel
rope or rail
Clause 9.3.5 As recommended by manufacturer to a maximum of 5 years.
12 monthly service in the absence of such recommendation
By a height safety equipment inspector
Horizontal and Vertical Lifelines – Fibre
rope / web
Clause 9.3.5 & 9.7 6 monthly inspection
By a height safety equipment inspector
All items that have been stressed as a
result of a fall
Clause 9.5 Inspection before further use
By a height safety equipment inspector

How To Inspect Harnesses And Lanyards For Damage

It is required that any harnesses and lanyards used in a fall arrest or fall restraint system be inspected for any defects before using them. There are several elements you must review to ensure your PPE is fit for service.

Should any of your equipment seem like it has seen better days, pull it from use immediately for closer inspection, and possibly repair or replacement. When working at heights there’s no sense in taking chances, as the smallest issue with your equipment can lead to failure under stress.


How to inspect harnesses

Harnesses are actually quite complex when you break them down by their various components. Inspect each carefully to ensure your harness is fit for purpose.

Straps: Grasp the webbing with both hands, spacing them about 15 to 20 centimetres (cm) apart. Bend the straps into ‘U’ shapes. This will help you pick out any tarnished fibres or cuts that could compromise the straps’ strength.

D-Rings: Look over your D-Rings for cracks, rough edges, breaks or any signs of deterioration. Be mindful that these components should not be able to move freely.

Tongue buckles: These parts should be mobile within the confines of their sockets. They shouldn’t be twisted or distorted.

Buckle attachments: It’s critical to identify any fraying or wear around the buckle attachments. Pay close attention to the stitching.

In addition, inspectors should look over the grommets and mating buckles for signs of deformation.

Infographic: Well Maintained Harness VS Used & Absused harness. Six images show the comparison between a fit for service harness and a harness that is no longer fit for service due to corroded straps, rusty D-Ring, buckles with rough edges and general wear and tear


How to inspect lanyards

Inspecting lanyards is equally complex and involves thorough assessments of the metal components as well as the fabric attached to the latches. 

Webbing: Is the fabric showing any discolouration, fraying or cuts around the edges?

Cable Lines: Are the cable lines snapped or slightly shredded?

Attachment Points: Are any of the attachments or clips bent or chipped?

Metal Components: Corrosion will compromise the functionality of the lanyard, depending on the extent of the rust.

Keeper Spring: Ensure the keeper spring expresses enough support to close the keeper securely.

Infographic: Inspecting Lanyards - What to look out for. Six images depict the core aspects to look for when visially inspecting a lanyard. Check condition of stiching, check for corrosive material on any straps eg; paint, check for fraying or cuts around the edges, check the energy absorbing section isnt compromised, check fabric around connection points and ensure atachment points aren't corroded.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your PPE


Visible Wear and Tear: Fraying, cuts, or abrasions on textile parts.

Damaged Stitching: Damaged stitching such as cuts, abrasion or pulled stitches.

Discolouration: Especially due to prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Malfunctioning Parts: Buckles, D-rings, or other components not working as intended.

Past Manufacturer’s Recommended Lifespan: Even if it looks fine, if it’s past its due date, it’s time to replace it.

An example of a full body harness that is suffering from wear and tear and no longer fir for service

Expert advice & top brands for height-safety PPE

Anchor Safe offers only the highest quality safety equipment that meets all relevant Australian standards. We handpick our safety gear from the best suppliers with an emphasis on safety, reliability and comfort. 


                Fall Arrest Harnesses                                                       

A new fall arrest full body harness for use in height safety systems

             Lanyards & Inertia Reels                                                       

A selection of new lanyards and tethers for height safety systems

                        Harness Kits                                                            

Contents of a height safety harness kit




Height-safety PPE plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of Australian workers. While the general guideline is 5 to 10 years of service, always remember that its condition, not just its age, determines its reliability. Regular inspections, following Australian Standards, and proper care will not only ensure your safety but also provide value for money.

An Anchor Safe Rope Access specialist wearing full height safety PPE for abseil work

Comprehensive Height Safety Services 

Anchor Safe offers comprehensive height safety services to building owners and facility managers, to ensure rooftops and other working at-height situations are compliant with all relevant codes, standards, and regulations.

We take care of everything, starting with the design of a customised height safety solution using quality products. Our certified and highly trained team will install your systems to ensure they are fit for purpose and meet and exceed all relevant certification standards.

With ongoing compliance management and maintenance services, you can rest assured that your building or worksite is completely compliant and your workers at height are safe.

Contact us for a free quote