1. #1
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    Default Fall protection for climbing a stationary ladder

    We were out pre-planning some possible rope rescue scenarios, we realized that their is a possibility that we might have to climb a stationary ladder to gain access to a patient or an elevated anchor to rig off of.

    A few questions:
    1. What set up do you guys use for fall protection while climbing stationary ladders
    2. Is it possible to improvise a safe fall protection system without purchasing special equipment
    3. Would something like the CMC Bypass Lanyard be adequate for this purpose or would it be better to have a system that has some kind of shock absorber built into it.

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    I would definitely recommend the bypass lanyard. I work often in industry and it is a great tool for securing yourself to a ladder or other structural members. No shock absorber is needed. The maximum fall you could take would not generate enough force to deploy the absorber.

    Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by Golzy12 View Post
    We were out pre-planning some possible rope rescue scenarios, we realized that their is a possibility that we might have to climb a stationary ladder to gain access to a patient or an elevated anchor to rig off of.

    A few questions:
    1. What set up do you guys use for fall protection while climbing stationary ladders
    2. Is it possible to improvise a safe fall protection system without purchasing special equipment
    3. Would something like the CMC Bypass Lanyard be adequate for this purpose or would it be better to have a system that has some kind of shock absorber built into it.

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    I'll go in the other direction. The bypass lanyard could be useful for some applications, but has a high potential for misuse. First, it has no shock absorber. With an overall length of 28", you could potentially take a Factor 2 fall on it of 56", which will generate a heck of a lot of force. Second, it has non-ansi compliant scaffold hooks. If that hook is side loaded, cross loaded, tip loaded, etc. it has a potential for failure. Third, its way too short to be of any use in larger structural climbing situations (i.e. tower, bridge, etc.)

    Just a thought, but we should be taking our cues from the guys in the tower and wind industry who use these tools everyday. A good set of FF2 Y-Lanyards w/ansi hooks will be your best friend for the guy who has to do the initial climb. Operationally, he should be taking up and setting up a vertical lifeline for the rest to follow. This is a spot where the ASAP works nicely. Link for a nice set of Y-lanyards

    http://en.skylotec-industry.com/equi...20FLEX%20V%201

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    Just being curious. Collin, what attachment point are you using on the harness for the Y lanyard, sternal or dorsal, while climbing?

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    Great question, personally I would prefer to use the sternal attachment for ease of connection and self rescue. Since we don't have any standards (OSHA or ANSI) that allow us to take greater than a 2 foot fall off of the sternum, I advocate for the dorsal attachment. I know this getting more into private industry, but the fire service as a whole doesn't have strong grasp on personal fall protection so I have to rely on that. Which do you prefer?

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    Regarding where to attach... These are variables that should first be considered if using a fixed rope from above and a grabbing device on it, such as an ASAP:

    Is the ladder dead vertical or slightly less?
    Where above is the rope anchored relative to the ladder? Directly above? Out in front a bit?

    Unless the rope is rigged above and in front of the ladder, at least a distance equal to the thickness of you body, you're way better off attaching to the sternal. Otherwise, with a dorsal attachment, prepare to eat steel in a fall, and then pay a visit to an oral surgeon. Or, catching your chin on top of a rung could cause a cervical injury.

    If using a Y-lanyard and attaching to the steel as you go... If connected to your dorsal, again, get psyched for a face plant.
    Last edited by EricUlner; 12-05-2012 at 11:22 PM. Reason: clarity

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    Good points Eric. I wonder if you are going to be exposed to a face plant regardless of where you are connected. Theoretically you would be climbing with arms extended and in the event of a fall return to plumb with some force. Either way if you don't protect yourself with your hands you'll be exposed, especially if your nose sticks out farther than any part of your body like mine. Does this make sense or am I over thinking it?

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    Thats why I had asked. I have seen where people have attached to the sternal attachment and the dorsal attachment. Climbing a vertical ladder, the sternal attachment seems to be "safer" from my point of view, but like you mentioned is that attachment point "rated" to do that job? Rigging to climb the same ladder but attached to the dorsal connection just seems to bring up, to me anyways, a whole bunch of problems, such as those mentioned before. I just like to get what others are doing around the country. I believe the ANSI standard had changed a few years back allowing connection to the front sternal point as long as that point was rated for fall protection?

    Either way thanks for the information.

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    I have asked about why fall protection attachment points are always dorsal. The answer I got from a safety instructor and other rope rescue instructors is that attaching the fall protection to the sternal attachment can cause a severe injury (broken back) during a fall. I have yet to verify this through other means. It does seem reasonable to me though. If I fall onto a lanyard attached to my sternal attachment I will be folded in the direction of the fall. My spine doesnt bend backwards very well so that would certainly injure me. If connected to my dorsal attachment I would bend in an anatomically friendly direction when the lanyard is loaded.

    Did that make any sense?
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    Its not that the sternal attachment point isn't rated, it is just as strong as the dorsal connection. I suspect the primary reason 99% of connections in the U.S. are made in the dorsal is that it is the law

    OSHA 1926.502(d)(17)
    "The attachment point of the body belt shall be located in the center of the wearer's back. The attachment point of the body harness shall be located in the center of the wearer's back near shoulder level, or above the wearer's head"

    I Don't have my standard in front of me, but here is an interpretation from the ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers)

    ANSI Z359
    "However, connection at the front D-ring is limited to systems that restrict free fall distance to 2 ft or less and limit the maximum fall arrest loads on the front D-ring to 900 lb of force or less. This arrangement will be par- ticularly useful in products selected by climbers and rope access workers"

    Hope this helps

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    Quote Originally Posted by collinmoon View Post
    Good points Eric. I wonder if you are going to be exposed to a face plant regardless of where you are connected. Theoretically you would be climbing with arms extended and in the event of a fall return to plumb with some force. Either way if you don't protect yourself with your hands you'll be exposed, especially if your nose sticks out farther than any part of your body like mine. Does this make sense or am I over thinking it?
    Absolutely either way, you are exposed to smacking your face due to, as you put it, "returning to plumb". But the difference lies at the interior angle of the fall arrest strap relative to the ladder. That angle is wider if you're attached at the dorsal, since your back is farther away from the ladder than your chest is. The wider that angle, the greater the pendulum into the ladder.

    In a fall, you drop straight first until your weight hits the webbing. Then it swings you inward. If your head is in between the webbing and the ladder, well... not good. The webbing will still be pushing for the plumb position, despite your head being in the way. I would much prefer my head not being pushed into steel by the strap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewiston2FF View Post
    I have asked about why fall protection attachment points are always dorsal. The answer I got from a safety instructor and other rope rescue instructors is that attaching the fall protection to the sternal attachment can cause a severe injury (broken back) during a fall. I have yet to verify this through other means. It does seem reasonable to me though. If I fall onto a lanyard attached to my sternal attachment I will be folded in the direction of the fall. My spine doesnt bend backwards very well so that would certainly injure me. If connected to my dorsal attachment I would bend in an anatomically friendly direction when the lanyard is loaded.

    Did that make any sense?
    If a long enough fall onto a low-elongation rope, sure, something in the system is likely to give/fail, perhaps including part of the skeletal structure. But this is why impact absorption is used in the form of dynamic rope, break-away stitching in fall arrest straps, dynamic lanyards, dynamic ("slippable") belay methods such as Prusiks, etc. Rock climbers take significant falls onto dynamic ropes on a regular basis while tied in to the front of class 2 harnesses, and without broken backs.

    So once the issue of having enough impact absorption built into system is taken care of, then one should really be pondering if the fall path will cause impact into something hard, especially with one's head. And if so, what compensation can be made to prevent or at least lessen the smack. Attaching to the front of the body is often the answer if the anchor attachment is on the same vertical plane that you're climbing.

    Pros and cons to everything... Unconscious and suspended from sternal will likely lead to a more patent airway. Unconscious and suspended from dorsal perhaps not so good for the airway with the head hanging forward. Hanging from dorsal also puts much greater compression against the femorals. And, if conscious and capable, self-rescue from a sternal hang is far easier than from a dorsal hang.
    Last edited by EricUlner; 12-08-2012 at 10:10 AM. Reason: more to say...

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    Okay, so we've established some very valid points for attaching sternally rather than dorsally when structure climbing. How do we as users and instructors teach the sternal connection vs. the dorsal connection when we have regulations that specifically say otherwise?

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    If a long enough fall onto a low-elongation rope, sure, something in the system is likely to give/fail, perhaps including part of the skeletal structure. But this is why impact absorption is used in the form of dynamic rope, break-away stitching in fall arrest straps, dynamic lanyards, dynamic ("slippable") belay methods such as Prusiks, etc. Rock climbers take significant falls onto dynamic ropes on a regular basis while tied in to the front of class 2 harnesses, and without broken backs.

    So once the issue of having enough impact absorption built into system is taken care of, then one should really be pondering if the fall path will cause impact into something hard, especially with one's head. And if so, what compensation can be made to prevent or at least lessen the smack. Attaching to the front of the body is often the answer if the anchor attachment is on the same vertical plane that you're climbing.

    Pros and cons to everything... Unconscious and suspended from sternal will likely lead to a more patent airway. Unconscious and suspended from dorsal perhaps not so good for the airway with the head hanging forward. Hanging from dorsal also puts much greater compression against the femorals. And, if conscious and capable, self-rescue from a sternal hang is far easier than from a dorsal hang.
    I completely agree. I was merely sharing a reason I was told. This was in an industrial fall protection class. I personally prefer the sternal attachment. I made the same point you did regarding climbing and the use of a front attachment point. Of course, I was fighting the law and therefore I lost the debate.

    If at all possible I try to make sure I have a Sternal attachment anytime I am tying in to fall protection so that I can attempt self-rescue. It may only be a tag line but I dont like doing the superman hang.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    http://fire.pgpic.com/PDFs/AttachDisFRM1006.pdf

    Very good artile by Mark Denvir on belay attachment points. I know I have posted it before, but a must read.

    Teach students to rig for the variables presented. A confined space for example generally benifits from a dorsal attachment of the belay (retreival) line. If the entrant must be pulled out via the retreival line, the dorsal attachment works to keep the body in a more straight position. Attaching to the sternal or mid point on the front will rag doll the entrant into a position that will not fit well through a hole.

    Likewise, if the rope system used is a two-tension rope system the belay will tensioned and little to no fall will occur. The front attachments work well, as the rescuer is held in the same position and will be able to perform self rescue as needed.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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    Quote Originally Posted by collinmoon View Post
    Great question, personally I would prefer to use the sternal attachment for ease of connection and self rescue. Since we don't have any standards (OSHA or ANSI) that allow us to take greater than a 2 foot fall off of the sternum, I advocate for the dorsal attachment. I know this getting more into private industry, but the fire service as a whole doesn't have strong grasp on personal fall protection so I have to rely on that. Which do you prefer?
    --------------------------
    ANSI Z359
    "However, connection at the front D-ring is limited to systems that restrict free fall distance to 2 ft or less and limit the maximum fall arrest loads on the front D-ring to 900 lb of force or less. This arrangement will be particularly useful in products selected by climbers and rope access workers"
    --------------------------
    Okay, so we've established some very valid points for attaching sternally rather than dorsally when structure climbing. How do we as users and instructors teach the sternal connection vs. the dorsal connection when we have regulations that specifically say otherwise?
    Total fall distance and free fall distance are not the same. Total fall distance includes rope stretch, slippage of belay device, and ripping of stitches in fall arrest lanyards. That's on top of the distance of free fall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    http://fire.pgpic.com/PDFs/AttachDisFRM1006.pdf
    Teach students to rig for the variables presented. A confined space for example generally benifits from a dorsal attachment of the belay (retreival) line. If the entrant must be pulled out via the retreival line, the dorsal attachment works to keep the body in a more straight position. Attaching to the sternal or mid point on the front will rag doll the entrant into a position that will not fit well through a hole.

    Likewise, if the rope system used is a two-tension rope system the belay will tensioned and little to no fall will occur. The front attachments work well, as the rescuer is held in the same position and will be able to perform self rescue as needed.
    Yes, pros and cons...

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    Great info everyone. It seems like the sternal attachment is the way to go when using a Y lanyard for ladder climbing, now the question is, what is the ideal length for each leg of the lanyard? You don't want it to be so long that you risk taking a big fall, and we don't want it so short that it limits the rescuer's maneuverability.

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    ANSI Z359
    "However, connection at the front D-ring is limited to systems that restrict free fall distance to 2 ft or less and limit the maximum fall arrest loads on the front D-ring to 900 lb of force or less. This arrangement will be particularly useful in products selected by climbers and rope access workers"

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