Following the mass recall of via ferrata sets by a number of different manufacturers last year, further testing has resulted in another round of recalls. This time, owners of rope/brake plate style lanyards are affected.
In August 2012 a via ferrata lanyard set failed unexpectedly leading to a fatal accident. Subsequently, many sets were recalled after tests showed that used lanyards from a number of different manufacturers might not be strong enough to hold a fall.
Further testing has confirmed earlier suspicions that there is a serious aging problem, not just with ‘tear webbing’ VF sets with elasticated lanyards, but also with the traditional rope/brake plate designs.
The UIAA Safety Commission held an emergency meeting on 6 February to discuss this serious issue, with almost 20 manufacturers in attendance. Following this, a press release was issued on 25 February by manufacturers and the UIAA, announcing recalls and advice for owners of traditional VF sets.
The statement can be found on the UIAA website
In addition to the recall, new advice has also been issued regarding lifetime and obsolescence of some sets. You can also check with the manufacturer for the latest details about your set to find out whether it is affected by a recall or has had new advice issued regarding its lifetime and obsolescence.
It is expected that the Standard (EN 958) for VF sets will be revised as soon as possible; changes will probably include the following:
All VF sets with elasticated webbing lanyards will have to pass a breaking strength test after being subjected to a cyclic loading regime intended to simulate use.
Non-elastic webbing types will have to be risk assessed, or pass a similar aging test. The recommended energy absorption system (EAS) will be tear webbing.
The breaking strength requirement after the dynamic or drop test will be increased. This ensures a higher residual strength of the lanyard after it has deployed to arrest a fall.
Additional user instructions covering professional or rental use, use by people under 50kg in weight, and advice regarding inspection and retirement.
Details on last Autumn's recall of sets with elasticated arms can be found here.
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