A Guide to Sanitize Your Fall Protection Equipment

A Guide to Sanitize Your Fall Protection Equipment

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance and preventive power of sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to human health and well-being. Good hygiene, sanitization and cleanliness, is the first line of defence against COVID-19 and other viral diseases. In response to the current worldwide health situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we would like to offer the following best practices for cleaning your fall protection equipment.

In the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is advisable to frequently sanitize your PPE that are used regularly. However, it is important that we select the right disinfectant, which does not degrade the PPE and/or pose any additional safety threat.

Choice of Disinfectant

Selection of the right disinfectant depends upon the industry in which it is used and its effects on the performance of the PPE. For example, alcohol-based disinfectants are not advisable to be used in potentially explosive atmospheres like a refinery. Here, alkali-based disinfectants like Sodium Hypochlorite should be used. Sodium Hypochlorite is a bleaching agent which may degrade certain synthetic fibres like Kevlar and reduce its strengths, thus the selection of the disinfectant needs careful attention based on the material of your PPE and the environment they are used in. Washing your PPE with a neutral soap solution and plain water is the safest in all conditions. It also removes the dirt and sweat and should be followed wherever practical.

While selecting a disinfectant following points are worth giving a thought:

1. Effectiveness

Does a disinfectant kill the microbes and pathogens that are of concern in your facility ?

2. Kill Time

How quickly does a disinfectant kill a specific pathogen?

3. Safety

Is the product safe to use for people and safe for the surfaces it is being applied to?

4. Ease of Use

Are the steps required to use a given disinfectant practical for your facility?

Common types of Disinfectants

Type Pros and Cons
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) Low cost and quick action against a wide range of microorganisms

Item description

Required Breaking Strength (BS)

BS without soaking

BS after 1st soaking (for 10 mins)

BS after 2nd soaking (for 10 mins)

BS after 3rd soaking (for 10 mins)

Average change of BS in percentage (lowest recorded value considered-in green)

44 mm Polyestor Webbing

1530 Kgf

2868

2896

2816

2840

1.81%

30 mm Polyestor Webbing

1530 Kgf

3773

3826

3609

3599

4.61%

20 mm Polyestor Webbing

1530 Kgf

2166

2122

2284

2185

2.03%

11 mm Kernmantle Rope

2240 Kgf

2540

2522

2298

2567

9.53%

11 mm Nylon Rope

2240 Kgf

3037

3139

2992

3190

1.48%

12 mm Polyester Rope

2240 Kgf

3061

3176

2908

2967

5.00%

12 mm Nylon Twisted Rope

2240 Kgf

2610

2703

2686

2634

-0.92%

14 mm Nylon Twisted Rope

2240 Kgf

2973

3115

3090

3098

-3.94%

Conclusion

The change in strength of the textile components is negligible after repeated exposure. KARAM textile components are much higher in strength than strength test requirements of the standards of EN361 (Harness), EN354 (Lanyard) and EN1891 (Ropes). Polyester fibres are generally resistant to organic solvents. Chemicals used in cleaning and stain removal do not damage it. Soaps, synthetic detergents, and other laundry aids do not damage it. Oxidizing agents and bleachers do not damage polyester fibres.

We can safely conclude that use of alcohol-based sanitizers is safe on the textile components used in KARAM’s fall protection equipment.

Recommendations

We recommend spraying/ fogging the sanitizer on the fall arrest equipment from at least 1 foot distance so that a larger area can be covered. The users can sanitize their fall protection equipment any number of times as long as it passes pre-use checks and periodic inspections. Washing with a regular mild detergent and water is equally effective for effective cleaning as per WHO guidelines. It also gets rid of dirt and sweat. After the process of sanitisation all PPE should be left to naturally dry in shade.

Chlorine Compounds

Relatively quick kill time, however they can be corrosive and cause discoloration as well as irritation. Alkali-based and hence non-flammable, suitable for refineries.

Alcohol-based

Effective against a wide range of bacteria. however they evaporate quickly and thus may not remain on the surface long enough to kill. They are flammable and not recommended for refineries.

KARAM Harness is absolutely safe to use even after several disinfectant cycles.

KARAM range of fall protection equipment, including harnesses, lanyards, and anchorage lifelines, are produced from polyester yarn. Thus, it is necessary to understand the effect on the strength of the textile components upon exposure to alcohol-based disinfectants.
A series of tests were conducted on the textile components used in KARAM Fall Arrest Systems to understand the effect of alcohol-based disinfectant on textile components.

Method

99% pure Alcohol based 9:1 Solution with distilled water was selected as the disinfectant. Samples were selected as follows –

Control Sample No soaking
Sample 1 One time soaking for 10 minutes and natural drying
Sample 2 Two times soaking for 10 minutes each and natural drying after each soaking
Sample 3 Three times soaking for 10 minutes each and natural drying after each soaking

Samples were prepared according to the sampling plan and then subjected to a tensile force in a universal tensile testing machine and the breaking strength was recorded.

Important Note : Although spraying/ fogging from a distance of 1 foot is enough to disinfect, the test is done by soaking the webbing in the disinfectant for a period of 10 minutes to create a worst-case scenario.

Observations

Following results were recorded. The lowest value recorded was selected to find the percentage variation in the strength before and after exposure.

It is recommended that the fall arrest equipment is for individual use and should not be shared. This ensures that the user is entirely aware of his fall protection equipment and enjoys the confidence of being safe.

Click the link below to view a film on the tests conducted

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDoRyQsUA58&feature=youtu.be

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