Fall Arrest Blocks
What names are used for Fall Arrest Blocks?
These items are known as Blocks, Fall Arrest Blocks, SRL, Self Retracting Lifelines or Inertia Reels. If they have an emergency rescue handle fitted they are known as FARB’s, Fall Arrest Retrieve Block or an SRL with Rescue Winch.
How should I check my Block before use?
This should only be done by a person who has been trained for height safety. Firstly ensure that your unit is in test. Make sure that the general exterior condition is good. Check that the length is fit for the purpose of the task you are doing. Ensure that the connection hook moves freely and is corrosion free and has not been activated if it is an activation hook.
Make sure you wear gloves and hang the block up and extract all of the line to ensure it is free from kinks, burs and general deterioration like rust. Pay the rope gently back into the block and when it is fully retracted hold the rope above the connection hook and give it a sharp tug. This should activate the pawls, locking the drum so that the wire is now fixed at that length. When pressure is then taken off the rope should pay back into the block.
This is a general test and should take only a few moments but ensure you are familiar with the block you are using prior to start. Some blocks may require more checks than this so this is not an exhaustive list.
How does my Block work?
Inside your block there will be a recoil spring, rope drum, pawls, ratchet and a brake, there are other components but these are the main ones. The line pays in and out with the recoil spring providing tension that recovers the line.
When you fall, the rate at which the line pays out speeds up significantly and this throws the pawl out which in turn lock into the ratchet. The ratchet then rotates against the brake and slows your descent speed so that you do not exceed a 6kN point load upon you.
This all takes place in the blink of an eye and feels like an instant reaction.
What happens if my Block has not been serviced?
The inside of almost all fall arrest retrieve blocks are made from different materials. These over time bond or corrode together. If a fall take place the inside drum may well not rotate. This will then increase the loading on the body to what could go up as high as 20kN.
There are also many other things internally that need to be checked. Only authorised service centres will have the correct settings and spares to service and maintain your blocks so they work in the way they were designed to.
How do I know my Fall Arrest Block will do what I need?
All Fall Arrest Blocks are designed to EN: 360. This means that they will stop you in a preset distance and ensure that the point loading upon your body does not exceed 6kN. This is a European Standard and means that any equipment used and sold within Europe will have this designation on it.