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SOLVING THE COMPATIBILITY PROBLEM BETWEEN FALL ARREST AND CLIMB ASSIST

January 7, 2013

Conventional climb assist products are not certified to arrest falls. Consequently, a dedicated fall arrest system must also be installed in order to allow users to safely climb a ladder. Since most new turbines come with service lifts as the standard method of nacelle access, the majority of climb assists being sold today are for retrofit into older turbines. These inevitably have some form of cable or rail based fall arrest system already in place.

The owners and operators of these turbines need to ask whether a retrofitted climb assist system will be compatible with their in-situ fall arrest system. Conventional climb assists require users to attach their harness to the continuous loop at a point above the fall arrest slider.  In the event of a fall, it is likely to be the climb assist and not the fall arrest cable that will bear the weight of the falling climber. As stated by the companies that sell conventional climb assist products, they are neither designed nor certified to arrest falls. It is clearly undesirable to have falls being arrested by equipment that is not designed to do so. Furthermore, it is possible that a fall onto a climb assist line could interfere with the arrest forces generated by the fall and that, as a result, the fall arrest slider might not correctly deploy. To help avoid just such a problem, the company Goracon, sells a connector for linking users to their climb assist system, which is designed to break in the event of a fall.

In our view this is a less than perfect solution. It would be better to have a single line which provided both fall arrest and climb assist and this is the approach offered by Limpet® height safety systems. We avoid the problem of compatibility entirely by providing products that combine the very best climb assist performance (90% of a users’ weight) with fully certified and integrated fall arrest capability. Since the user is on the same tight rope that is providing climb assistance, if they slip, their fall is immediately arrested. For this reason, we have called Limpet® fall arrest feature ‘Proactive Fall Prevention™’. 

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