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.
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;