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EN 354:2010 – lanyards for fall arrest
Considering the changes introduced by the publication of EN354:2010 and its effects on the testing of fall arrest lanyards.
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Lanyards are a common component of the fall protection system for operatives working at height, with a variety of designs, lengths, materials and configurations possible. During use, they are exposed to hazardous wear and tear, so rigorous testing is necessary. The new standard increases the amount of testing required to ensure that CE-marked lanyards are fit for purpose.
The scope of EN 354 has increased to now explicitly include work positioning and restraint lanyards, as well as lanyards with multiple configurations such as twin-tailed models. This means that products such as work positioning lanyards are now covered under the scope of both EN 354:2010 and EN 358:2018.
A range of options to clarify this situation is being discussed at various levels of national and international committees. These choices range from clarifying the scopes of EN 354 and EN 358 to moving lanyards out of EN 358 completely. SATRA will currently test lanyards to either EN 354:2010 or EN 358:2018, using the intended end-use of the product to determine the most appropriate standard.
This standard is one of the first fall arrest standards to bring in specific conditioning requirements for samples. All test samples are now required to be conditioned at 23oC ±5oC and 65 per cent ± 5 per cent relative humidity (RH) for at least 24 hours prior to testing.
In addition to this general conditioning, two more pre-test conditions have been introduced: ‘wet and cold’ and ‘very cold’. The wet and cold condition applies to all lanyards being tested to EN 354:2010, while the very cold condition is an optional test designed for lanyards for use in extreme cold environments below -30oC.
The wet and cold conditioning is used for samples being tested for static strength and slippage tests. To prepare a sample, it is completely submerged in water for one hour. Afterwards, it is placed in a climate chamber with a temperature set to between -4oC and -6oC (a range of -4oC to -8oC being acceptable) for at least four hours. Samples are then removed and tested, which must start within 90 seconds of removal from the freezer.
The conditioning to very cold is different to wet and cold in more than just temperature, as the lanyard is not soaked in water. After general conditioning of 23oC ±5oC and 65 per cent ±5 per cent RH, the sample is placed in a freezer set to the minimum temperature claimed by the manufacturer, with a maximum of -30oC for at least two hours before removal and testing.
This new conditioning may present the largest changes in the new standard, as well as the biggest problem for manufacturers. Textile lanyards containing nylon will become weaker due to the conditioning prior to testing. This is because of the ice melting as the test is being conducted, so releasing water into the lanyard. The water acts as a plasticiser on the nylon, thus lowering the tensile strength of the lanyard. This will reduce the maximum force the lanyard can hold, possibly resulting in failure. As the uptake of moisture into the core of a nylon lanyard is a major problem, water-resistant coatings will take on a greater importance.
EN 354:2010 now includes an adjustable lanyard slippage test. This is a similar test to the one found in EN 358:2018. The adjustment device is placed at the mid-length position and a static load of 6 kN is applied for three minutes. To pass this test, the adjustment device must not slip by more than 50 mm. This test is carried out two or three times (depending on the conditions claimed), first using the general conditioning of 23oC ±5oC and 65 per cent ±5 per cent RH, and then to a sample conditioned to wet and cold. A second sample can be used for this test. If a manufacturer is claiming the very cold performance rating, this test is repeated again to this conditioning.
In use, lanyards can be subject to some of the highest levels of wear and tear in a fall arrest system. Lanyards can abrade against edges and other obstacles, as well as being exposed to adverse weather conditions and UV light.
It is due to these adverse conditions that the standard retains the 22 kN static strength requirement for textile lanyards from the 2002 edition. This is above the standard 2.5 times safety factor used in most fall arrest standards. Lanyards constructed entirely from metal are subjected to a 15 kN static strength test, as they are more resilient to wear and tear. Lanyards terminated with connectors have the connectors removed for the static strength tests. The connectors are still included in the corrosion test.
The conditioning required for static strength is subject to some ambiguity. The standard clearly states the conditioning sub-clauses that are required in the slippage testing. In the static strength test, the standard only states when conditioned to the main conditioning clause of 5.2, with no clarification of which sub-clauses to apply.
At SATRA, we have set out to test the lanyards to all the applicable sub-clauses. This ensures that the product is rigorously tested to prove its performance.
Test methods for twin-tail lanyards are now included. Any multi-leg lanyard is required to be tested in all possible configurations to a force of 22 kN (textile) and 15 kN (metal). Each configuration is tested under all the applicable conditioning.
Lanyards which include a length adjustment device are subjected to a dynamic strength test. This test differs from previous test methods for adjustable lanyards. A 100 kg test mass is attached to the test sample via a 2 m reference lanyard. The mass is raised 2 m above the attachment point, giving a free-fall distance of 4 m. To pass this test, the lanyard must retain the test mass clear of the ground. There is no requirement for measuring the forces generated.
After the dynamic test, a 3 kN static strength test is performed on the adjustment device to test the lanyard’s residual strength. If the lanyard can withstand this force for three minutes after the mass is dropped, it is considered to have met the requirements.
The corrosion testing of the metallic components is now assessed by a 48-hour exposure time, compared to the previous 24-hour corrosion test. The extra exposure to the neutral salt spray can lead to failures of metallic components that are already used on products which only required 24-hour exposure. This longer test may require a change of coating on the metallic components in order to meet the new requirements.
Product marking requirements now mean the length of the lanyard and the date of manufacture are needed on the lanyard itself. Information regarding the pictogram, model/type and marking has now been moved to a different standard (EN 365).
Further information on SATRA's PPE certification and testing services is available at www.satra.com/ppe
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