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How safe is your fall protection equipment?

19 May 2015

A specialist in fall protection is warning that systems used to protect people working at height may not have been adequately tested, despite the introduction of stricter European standards.

Latchways is calling on the construction, roofing and health & safety industries to take note of new testing standards for fall protection devices (EN 795:2012) and to question whether they have been fully adhered to, before using any such product or system.

Latchways’ technical manager, Tim Bissett, said: "The relevant standard for testing of anchor devices that enable people to work at height is EN 795. Essentially this is a minimum requirement to help make sure those workers go home safely every day. This standard was revised almost three years ago to EN 795:2012, which set out testing requirements in much greater detail. The most important change was that all anchor devices should now be tested for fall arrest capability - even if their intended purpose was only fall restraint.”

While Latchways is in favour of this development, the company is raising the fact that the latest testing methods give manufacturers a degree of freedom, because the new standard is not yet a mandatory requirement. This means that specifiers may well be choosing products that fall below the ideal – simply because they are unaware that other manufacturers offer products that already comply with the enhanced standard.

Today, throughout industry, risk management and compliance with health and safety regulations is part of daily life. The application of standards has become increasingly important, especially for those charged with keeping workers safe. While welcoming the much more robust set of parameters, Latchways is concerned about the general lack of awareness of what the updated standard really means.

"For us, testing is fundamental to the development and supply of robust, efficient fall protection solutions,” noted Bissett. "By highlighting the importance of EN 795:2012 we are encouraging all those involved in fall protection to insist products are tested to the higher standard. We should all be embracing new standards as a matter of course - otherwise we aren’t doing our job to protect people working at height and that, ultimately, is what we are here to do.”