It seems that there is a lot of confusion surrounding harness labeling and replacement dates. Many of the misconceptions have come from incomplete information that people have received from the company they use for safety training and certification.
Here is how it breaks down:
Some manufacturers have a service life as part of their labeling. Said service life is not in reference to any existing industry standards. Everything has to do with the harness being in sufficient structural condition to perform its job, this revolves around the inspection of that harness, and any other form of PPE for that matter. Properly inspecting the harness every single time it is donned it is critical to the safety of the person wearing it, and any decision to remove it from service.
I have seen a service life of 5 years on a certain manufacturers tag. Now that doesn’t mean that if you have an accident and the harness is suspect, that the manufacturer will stand beside you in a Court of Law. You can expect the opposite. My good friends in the Safety Equipment Manufacturers Working Group will all tell you that the ultimate service life requirement comes from the manufacturers of the synthetics that they purchase to build a particular piece of gear. Some will say 10 years maximum life regardless of where and how it is used. If it is on the shelf for 10 years they will not stand behind the synthetic fibers any longer.
As you all know, any tower crew that is working steady will go through harnesses in a shorter period of time than 5 years anyway!
Use common sense and your eyes, if it is showing signs of wear and tear then take it out of service.
Climb Safely my Friends,