Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used for climbing and mountain rescue, are commonly used also to protect people involved in work at height,causing some conflict of competence between different standards issued by European Committeefor Standardization.

Introduction

CEN TC.160 – Technical Committee for PPE against falls from height
CEN TC.136 – Technical Committee for mountaineering equipment

Harnesses, anchor devices, energy absorbers, ropes, connectors/carabiners, and so on, are mostly components and elements of safety systems whose failure may cause “severe injures even fatal”.
Therefore they are classified as PPE of third class, i.e. maximum risk (see Directive 89/686/EEC), and they are ruled by a detailed and severe standardization.
Ruling this matter, CEN standardization settled two main fields of use:

work: followed by the technical committee TC.160 under the name of “Personal protective equipment against falls from a height”

recreational: followed by the technical committee TC.136 under the name of “Mountaineering equipment”

There are good enough reasons for this distinction was decided, even thought its enforcement is not easy at all times.

It follows that many climbing devices must suit two criterions of standardization at the same time, even thought these criteria are not always at tune.

A particular case is just made up by carabiners, which may be manufactured and traded with reference to the standards CE EN 12275-(TC.136) and CE EN 362-(TC.160)  if only they are provided with a locking device, because the standard CE EN 362 do not accept connectors devoid of “a self or manual locking facility … capable of being opened by at least two consecutive deliberate manual actions”.

This and other lacks of harmonization are the reason why meetings between persons of the two CEN technical committees start to be promoted, in order to favour a related action. Listed underneath are the standards to which KONG products make reference.

The list is completed with an abstract of the most usual definitions.Judging the intricate structure of these standards, you had better to realize that safety granted by each of these PPE proceeds from its correct use, which must agree with the technique fixed when PPE was designed and certified.

This is the reason why CEN standards give great value to the fact that PPE should be sold with  a packaging, a marking and a booklet of instructions, supplied directly by the manufacturer.

For instance, nothing may prevent components or elements of a safety system, to be at the same time used in both fields.

Moreover, it is evident that a mountain guide uses its tools for an ordinary necessity of work.

Moreover, we must consider that many of these PPE are used together with other ones for the sake of building up a “system” whose inner strength is equal to the strength of the weaker link of the chain.

This explains why inside these standards you can find frequently the words:

element: part of a component or a sub-system; ropes and connectors are examples of elements.part of a component or a sub-system; ropes and connectors are examples of elements.

component: part of a system at point of sale by the manufacturer, supplied with a packaging, marking and information; body supports are examples of components of a system.

 

sub-system: assembly of elements and/or components making up a larger part of a system at a point of sale by the manufacturer, supplied with a packaging, marking and information; guided type fall arresters including a rigid anchor line is an example of sub-system.

It is obvious that a use which is compatible with instructions, and an assembling with other components having a suitable strength, are tasks for which the user must rely on his experience or on the experience of a good trainer: a skill which cannot be patched up irresponsibly assembly of elements and/or components making up a larger part of a system at a point of sale by the manufacturer, supplied with a packaging, marking and information;

TC.136

TECHNICAL COMMITTEE FOR MOUNTAINEERING EQUIPMENT STANDARDS

EN 564 | Accessory cords

Textile cord or rope, comprising a core and a sheath, that has a nominal diameter of 4mm to 8mm and are intended to withstand forces, but not intended to absorb energy.

EN 565 | Tape

Strip of textile fabric.

EN 566 | Slings

Tape, accessory cord or rope joined together by stitching or other means of fastening.

EN 567 | Rope clamps

Mechanical device which, when attached to a rope or an accessory cord of appropriate diameter, will lock under load in one direction and slip freely in the opposite direction.

EN 568 | Ice anchors

Anchor which is screwed or hammered into the ice and is removable again after use.

EN 569 | Pitons

Device which, when inserted into a rock crack by means of a hammer or equivalent device, provide an anchor.

EN 892 | Dynamic mountaineering ropes

Textile rope, comprising a core and a sheath, which is capable of arresting the free fall of a person engaged in mountaineering or climbing  with a limited impact force.

Single rope:
Dynamic mountaineering rope, capable of being used singly, as a link in the safety chain, to arrest a person’s fall.

Half rope:
Dynamic mountaineering rope, which is capable, when used in pairs as a link in the safety chain, to arrest a person’s fall.

Twin rope:
Dynamic mountaineering rope, which is capable, when used in pairs and parallel, to arrest a person’s fall.

EN 893 | Crampons

Device fitted with spikes, which is intended to cover the sole of a boot, from toe to heel and from one side to the other, so as to provide grip on snow, ice and mixed terrain and which has a system of attachment to the boot.

EN 958 | Energy absorbing systems for use in Klettersteig (Via Ferrata) climbing

Device with two or more attachment points, used to reduce the impact force on the anchorage and on an attached climber during the fall.

EN 959 | Rock anchors

Anchoring equipment with an eye in which a connector can be attached for belaying purposes by inserting into a drill hole in rock and kept in place by gluing or expansion forces.

EN 12270 | Chocks

Non-adjustable wedge-shaped body, which is intended to be wedged in cracks in the rock and is able to withstand a load in the longitudinal axis of the means of attachment.

EN 12275 | Connectors

Openable device, which enable a mountaineer to link himself directly or indirectly to an anchor.

EN 12276 | Frictional anchors

Adjustable wedge-shaped body, which is intended to be wedged in cracks in the rock and is able to withstand a load in the longitudinal axis of the means of attachment.

EN 12277 | Harnesses

Assembly of narrow textile fabric(s) (generally referred to as tape) adjusting device(s) or other elements which fit around the body to support it in a hanging position.

EN 12278 | Pulleys

One or more sheaves mounted in a block or a body, which can be used to link a rope or an accessory cord to a connector to safeguard a mountaineer, and which reduces the friction while the rope or accessory cord is moving under load.

EN 12492 | Climbing safety helmets

A device worn on the head intended to absorb part of the energy of an impact caused by falling, and by falling objects, thus reducing the risk of injury to the head.

EN 13089 | Ice-tools

Device intended to be brought by hand, to move on snow and/or ice, which can be used as an anchor point. It includes al least one handle and one spike.

EN 15151-1 | Semi-automatic descender devices

Braking device that produces a change in its geometry once a certain hand braking force is applied to the free end of the rope, such that the hand braking force is amplified to slow down the rope movement through the device until arrest.

EN 15151-2 | Manual descender devices

Device controlled by hand force applied to the free end of the rope, that produces a magnified force in the active rope in a continuos and reversible manner, such that when the force in the free end of the rope is reduced to zero, the braking effect becomes negligibily small.

TC.160

TECHNICAL COMMITTEE FOR PPE AGAINST FALLS FROM A HEIGHT

STANDARDS

EN 341 | Descender device

Rescue device whereby a person may descend by himself, or aided by a second one, at a controlled speed from a higher to a lower place.

EN 353-1 | Guided type fall arresters including a rigid anchor line

Connecting element specified for a sub-system with a guided type fall arrester. A rigid anchor line may be a rail or a wire rope and is intended for securing to a structure in such a way that lateral movements of the line are limited.

EN 353-2 | Guided type fall arresters including a flexible anchor line

Connecting element specified for a sub-system with a guided type fall arrester.
A flexible anchor line may be a synthetic fibre rope or a wire rope and is intended for securing to an upper anchor point.

EN 353.1 + EN 353.2 | Guided type fall arrester

Fall arrester with a self-locking function and a guide facility. The guided type fall arrester travels along an anchor line, accompanies the user without requiring manual adjustment during upward or downward changes of position and locks automatically on the anchor line when a fall occurs.

EN 354 | Lanyards

Connecting element or component of a fall arrest system. A lanyard may be of synthetic fibre rope, wire rope, webbing or chain.

EN 355 | Energy absorbers

Element or a component of a fall arrest system, which is designed to dissipate the kinetic energy developed during a fall from a height.

EN 358 | Belts for work positioning and restraint, and work positioning lanyards

Support for the body which surrounds it at the height of the waist.

EN 361 | Full body harnesses

Body support primarily for fall arrest purposes, i.e. a component of a fall arrest system. The full body harness may comprise straps, fittings, buckles or other elements, suitably arranged and assembled to support the whole body of a person and to restrain the wearer during a fall and after the arrest of a fall.

EN 362 | Connectors

Connecting element or component of a fall arrest system provided with a self closing and a self or manual locking facility.

EN 397 | Industrial safety helmets

Headgear primarily intended to protect the upper part of a wearer’s head against injury from falling objects.

EN 795 | Anchor devices

An element or series of elements or components which incorporates an anchor point or anchor points.

EN 813 | Sit harnesses

An arrangement of straps, fittings and buckles or other elements in the form of a waist belt with a low attachment element and connecting support encircling each leg suitably arranged to support the body of a conscious person in a sitting position.

EN 1496 | Rescue lifting devices

class A:
Component of personal protective equipment for rescue purposes, by means of which persons are able to lift themselves from a lower to a higher place, or they are lifted by a rescuer.

class B:
As rescue lifting device class A, but in addition persons can descend from a higher to a lower place, or they can be lowered by a rescuer.

EN 1498 | Rescue loops

Component of personal protective equipment for rescue purposes consisting of elements designed and constructed so that during the rescue process the rescuee is held and kept in a defined position.

EN 1891 | Low stretch kernmantel ropes

A textile rope consisting of a core enclosed by a sheath, designed for use by persons in rope access including all kinds of work positioning and restraint; for rescue and speleology.

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