The latest standards of testing for fall protection devices are not being conformed to according to a leading manufacturer, which is calling on the industry to take note of the most recent regulatory changes.
Latchways, which manufactures fall arrest products for those working at height, claims that despite the European standards for the sector (EN 795) being updated in 2012, some manufacturers are failing to test their products to the latest standard.
The EN 795 standard was first introduced at a European level in 1996 and relates to the testing of anchor devices enabling a single user to work at height. It was updated in 2012 to give greater detail on testing and increase the importance of testing methods.
Due to EU objections regarding the harmonisation of anchor devices under the personal protective equipment (PPE) directive, EN 795:2012 was also supported by a technical specification addressing testing for multiple users (CEN TS 16415).
However, speaking exclusively to Roofzine, Latchways explained it is still possible for manufacturers to avoid testing under the most recent – and more stringent – rules, as there is currently no legal requirement to do so.
Tim Bissett, technical director for Latchways and a member of the European standards team that wrote EN 795:2012, said: “Because you haven’t got a legal link to a European directive as a fully harmonised standard, manufacturers are not obliged necessarily to test to that standard.
“We know there are manufacturers out there not testing to the latest standard, which is disappointing as one of the reasons we’ve produced revised standards is to close gaps and improve test methods.
“If you’re producing new anchor devices from when [EN 795:2012] was published in August 2012 onwards, you should really be testing to the latest standard and the latest technical specification.”
Latchways believes that despite the original 1996 standard being withdrawn, some firms may still be testing to the outdated guidelines. However, there is also a possibility that as EN 795:1996 is no longer available, some manufacturers could, in Mr. Bissett’s words, “avoid testing to the old standard altogether.”
As a result, Latchways says specifiers are not always choosing the most thoroughly-tested products and workers around the UK and Europe are relying on anchor devices not tested to the latest standard, potentially putting them in danger.
Jonathan Seymour, Latchways’ head of sales for the UK and Ireland, said: “It’s been three years since 2012, and I think what needs to happen is that we need to expose the standard, and we need to make people aware of it.
“A lot of our work comes from specification and I do believe that there is a job to be done to educate and help specifiers understand what it is they should be demanding, in my opinion, from fall protection manufacturers.”
Mr. Bissett added: “In shining a light on EN 795:2012, we are hoping to encourage a desire for increased use of this standard for product testing. As an industry we should always be raising and embracing new standards – otherwise we aren’t doing our job to protect people working at height and that, ultimately, is what we are here to do.”