Peer to Peer Gear Inspection

Peer to Peer Gear Inspection

The first step to an accident involves the false belief that experience makes you invulnerable. Seventy-five percent (75%) of all work-related fatalities in the United States come from making a mistake while doing routine work.

Every year at the International Society of Arboriculture International Tree Climbing Championship – World Championship, they hold a gear inspection for climbers and volunteers.  Guidelines are maintained regarding competition gear and all competitors and all volunteers who will be working aloft during a competition or its set-up must submit to an inspection of all equipment and equipment systems before entering an event safety zone.  This is one of the most important aspects of this competition.  If your gear does not pass inspection, you do not participate unless it is corrected and passed by the head judge.

Why not take this routine and build it into your safety program?  Although employees should be checking their gear on a daily basis, thoughts like, “I checked it yesterday, my gear is all right, I’ve climbed on it a hundred times, nothings gone wrong, etc.” normalizing and complacency can get in the way.

One way to combat this issue is to do a peer to peer gear inspection on a monthly basis.  Some tips to get this going in your company.

  1. You need commitment if you want to establish and sustain an effective new program so make sure you and your management/safety team are on board.  You are steering the ship!
  2. Write it into your safety policy. For example, we will perform a peer to peer gear inspection every month on the first Wednesday after dispatch.
  3. Explain it to your crew why this is important and that this is to support the idea of helping each other out. It is not to bust people – it is because you care about each other and another set of eyes is always helpful.  It is to correct a conflict with equipment that could cause an accident.
  4. This can be a great way to mentor new employees. Have a veteran employee paired up with a newer employee.  Hopefully this will help to invite questions from your crew as to why someone may think the gear is lacking in some way.  It is imperative that your employees feel comfortable asking questions and bringing issues up to each other. Or perhaps you can have the crew that is working together that day check each other’s gear out.
  5. Always have a specific area designated for this inspection. Whether this is outside or in a corner of your shop, a dedicated space brings validity to the importance of the gear check and eliminates an excuse for not doing it.
  6. If something has to be taken out of service you must have a backup inventory so there isn’t temptation to ask or allow someone to use the flawed gear for the sake of production.
  7. Train employees on how to properly inspect equipment. Explain it is your duty as part of the Z-133 safety requirements.

Gear inspection should be a dialog, a safe place for employees and management to talk to each other.  Encourage your team to take not only responsibility for themselves but others too!

Here are some other helpful links surrounding safety and gear checks…



Written By:  Peggy Drescher


There is 1 comment on this post
  1. John Wayne Farber
    November 13, 2019, 6:23 pm

    Having been a gear inspector at both local and national climbing competitions I would like to speak to the importance and some frustrations of this subject. First, gear SHALL be inspected BEFORE EACH USE (ANSI Z133 8.1.3) . Unfortunately we as workers may become comfortable or complacent in our inspections over time. What a great idea to periodically have an outside source look at your gear with a fresh set of eyes. Second, is how to inspect or who is qualified to inspect. A fresh set of eyes may catch somethings but a highly trained set of eyes will catch more. Unfortunately we are provided tools on what to inspect (i.e. the links above) but not how to inspect. I have heard a lot of different opinions in my years and each with different levels of merit. I like to reference a higher authority than my own (or others) opinion and find the correct way to do things from the people who manufacture equipment and regulatory bodies (also defensible in court). ANSI Z133 3.1 tells us all items used in arboriculture SHALL comply with OSHA and ANSI and we must be trained in their use, inspection, and maintenance. ANSI Z133 8.1.3 further explains this is also based on “manufactures guidelines”. The point of this is that inspection criteria is not easily laid out for us in a check list but it is found in the text attached to each item we purchase on the tag that came with the equipment (also usually found online, if you through it away). In short to be a good arborist you need to read for yourself, understand each item you use for life support and help others absorb the knowledge too. If your doing inspections based on what you heard it from a person, somewhere, and cant reference the source, Best not to trust it with your life.

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