Abstract: Retractable type fall arresters, guided type fall arresters including a flexible anchor line and energy absorbers with lanyards are subsystems of fall arrest systems of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) against falls from a height. They protect against life-threatening hazards, but their reliable functionality depends in part upon their "proper use". Practical experience has shown, however, that PPE against falls from a height is not always used in a manner consistent with the technical safety requirements and tests documented in the information supplied by the manufacturer. The work place conditions often contribute towards improper use. As a result, a fall - for example over the edge of a roof - may result in high mechanical loading upon the equipment. The high resulting fall distances and the loading caused by edges are not covered at present by the tests performed within the EC-type-examination. In order to examine this equipment, 169 fall tests were performed on commercially distributed items of PPE against falls from a height. The tests were performed applying horizontal fall conditions on the edges of trapezoidal sheeting, steel beams, wooden beams, and precast concrete beams. The lanyards cracked or tore at the edge of the structure in 30 % of cases. If other relevant test criteria are applied, such as a maximum braking force of 6 kN or the fall arrest distance of 3 m, 82 % of the items of PPE against falls from a height must be deemed unsuitable. In their current form, none of the tested PPE items can be described and recommended as being suitable for horizontal use. Discriminating test principles were therefore drawn up and adopted with which suitability may be demonstrated. The use of PPE against falls from a height in horizontal arrangement must be described clearly in the information supplied by the manufacturer.
Ottersbach, H.J.: Drop tests with personal protective equipment against falls from a height in a horizontal arrangement. BGIA-Report 2/2006e. Ed.: Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG), Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BGIA, Sankt Augustin 2006. ISBN: 3-88383-705-9