Rental: What would be the most important things a rental company can do to educate/ensure their customers are up to date with the latest fall protection recommendations and safety standards?
The most important thing the rental company can do is to understand how the personal protection equipment (PPE) works in each type of application. They should, at a minimum, be able to provide basic instruction and guidance to the equipment renter. This should include discussions regarding formal instruction and training requirements in order to use such PPE. Users may reference 1910.140 and 1926.502 as starting points.
Rental: How does a rental business know its safety equipment is up-to-date and safe?
Most PPE is provided with detailed inspection instructions. With the rental company being the primary provider of the PPE, it is their responsibility to ensure that each piece of equipment is thoroughly maintained and inspected as defined by the manufacturer.
As an example, 3M Fall Protection is required to be inspected annually by a competent person and before each use by the end-user. For examples, our Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBAs) and Supplied Air Respirators require inspections prior to use and a mandatory functional test by an authorized service center at least every 2 years and air cylinders require regular pre-use inspection and a mandated hydrostatic pressure test every 5 years. Aluminum-lined carbon-wrapped cylinders expire after 15 years of use.
Rental: What can they do to ensure the safety equipment is still good to go for the next client?
Set up a basic inspection procedure with documentation as to who performed the inspection and when. Many manufacturers offer basic inspection checklists for products such as fall protection equipment, SCBAs, and respirators.
Rental: What would be your checklist of items a rental business should go over regarding safety equipment and a client?
This would be product-specific, but at a minimum, each client should be apprised of the PPE provided to them and the intended use for those products. It is also essential to ensure that it is understood by the client that the PPE is intended to only be used in occupational sectors by trained personnel.
Rental: What has been the advancement/innovation that had the most impact in safety equipment in recent years?
The most recent advancements in fall protection technology have been introduced by revisions to the outgoing ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2014 standard for self-retracting devices (SRDs).
The new ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 document (effective August 01, 2023) defines the performance criteria for all SRDs claiming compliance with the new document. The most critical change within this document has been the identification of two new classifications for SRDs. In the U.S., the newly revised ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 introduces new SRL classifications based on the SRL anchorage installation height.
As an example, in most mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP) designs, the fall protection anchorages are located below dorsal D-ring height. Therefore, Class 1 SRL devices will be restricted for use based on current anchorage height locations in MEWPs. For below dorsal D-ring anchorage applications, use of Class 2 rated ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 compliant SRL will be required to maintain ANSI/ASSP Z359 compliance and compliance with the Class 2 device manufacturer’s user instructions. Class 2 devices are approved and certified to be connected below the user’s dorsal D-ring height, and additionally, are approved for use in leading-edge exposures and increased free fall heights which are quite common in MEWP environments.