SPECIAL requirements are needed for Emergency Services’ personnel working safely at heights.
Emergency Services, such as the NSW Fire Services, carry out dangerous tasks – their workers not only put themselves at risks, they are constantly at risk in helping people and protecting property.
These Emergency Services requirements need to be addressed with safe equipment that meets national OH&S standards. Current abseiling harnesses may not provide all the functions that Emergency Services require.
The NSW Fire Services recently asked Beaver Sales to develop an Australian/New Zealand Standards approved abseiling harness to meet their special requirements.
The challenge for the Beaver Sales development staff was to build a harness that included all the necessary requirements for Emergency Services.
Beaver's NATA accredited laboratory and state of the art manufacturing facility at Wetherill Park undertook this project to ensure the harness could pass the rigorous requirements of AS/NZS1891.1:1995.
This meant the harness had to undergo static load testing and drop testing from all possible attachment points on the harness.
As part of Beaver Sales’ Quality Assurance and Certification, the company was able to manufacture the harness with the approval of the NSW Fire Service.
Abseiling harnesses differ greatly from fall arrest harnesses. With the abseiling harness, the loading on the body when suspended is around the thigh, as opposed to through the groin with an industrial fall arrest harness.
When testing the abseiling harness, the drop load is applied to the thigh, which means stronger harness construction is required in this area.
The NSW Fire Service also wanted the harness to include the following features:
1. Double front attachment belay points
2. Side attachment D rings for work positioning
3. Confined space rescue loops on the shoulders
4. Long extension strap where the rear D ring is located so the strap can be reached easily
5. Comfort in all applications from abseiling to work positioning
6. Large size range to fit a multitude of body sizes, sometimes over heavy turn out clothing
8. Loops for the attachment of additional gear.
Once all the above was built into a sample harness, the beginning of the project started with the testing.
According to Clive Marple, Beaver Sales’ National Height Safety Manager, static testing was completed easily, as the methods used to build a fall arrest harness complied with the abseiling harness’ static loading tests.
The next part of the testing included drop testing – this involved the rear attachment point, with a heads up 4m drop test followed by the heads down 4m drop test.
Beaver Sales’ load reading equipment measured 19kN loads when the 100kg mannequin was dropped in a heads down orientation during the test, which consequently applied loads to the harness in places it wasn't normally loaded.
This was then followed by further drop testing on the other load bearing attachment points.
Clive Marple said it took the Beaver team a few attempts to get the product’s harness layout, stitch patterns and attachment point positioning to meet and pass the stringent requirements of AS/NZS1891.1.
Beaver Sales achieved the standards requirements for the abseiling harness, now called the B-Safe BH05200F abseiling harness.
The special harness is now used by the NSW Fire Services and Army personnel. There has also been considerable interest in the product from commercial abseiling companies.
“The B-Safe BH05200F abseiling harness effectively meets the unique requirements of the dedicated people involved in saving lives and protecting property,” said Mr Marple.