On March 19, 2010 the European Commission has decided to withdraw the EN 353-1
(Guided type Fall arresters on including a rigid line).
With this decision the examination and certification of these systems do not automatically lead to a presumption of conformity under this Standard.
(This means, at the contrary to which was applied so far, it is not sufficient for a product to meet the requirements of the norm even confirmed by a testing organization in order to affix the CE label and to be used).
In recent years, some fall protection accidents have occurred without being clarified.
During the investigations of these accidents, some questions remained open about the accidents. Even with the fall arresters meeting the applicable standard EN 353-1, it has not been possible to prevent these accidents.
Therefore, constant efforts have been shown in order to improve the standard.
Unfortunately, due to conflicts of interest between different nations, these efforts did not lead to any agreement.
Now, the Commission has decided to withdraw the actual standard (not safe enough).
The direct consequence of this decision is not to remove these products from usage.
They are still fall protection runners subject to the PPE directive (Directive 89/686/EEC).
Thus the fall protection stays within the scope of the allowed area and can still be marketed in the EU with the EC, as long as it complies with the European directives, and carries the CE mark.
The withdrawal of the EN 353-1 means that the meeting the EN 353-1 alone is no presumption of conformity anymore. Meeting the requirements of the EN 353-1 may not result automatically to a CE labeling and thus not brought to the markets.
From now on, new requirements have to be fulfilled in order to ensure that even beyond the EN 353-1, the requirements of the PPE Directive are met.
What are the requirements?
Since there are no more standards indicating rules for all countries and all products/manufacturers, each checking laboratory/organization will decide and review individually, product by product, if there are still any safety risk and which measures and tests need to be performed.
The laboratories may agree among themselves and/or with the regulating organizations.
However, it already appears that the existing disagreements of the different countries and laboratories will lead to unclear consequences.
Examples of possible additional requirements:
- Pressure at the base of the body during a drop test (by gripping the Dummy or simulation a resting arm),
- Putting the runner out of operation by set back, or by dropping the test weight parallel to the guided rail
- Test with dummy
Whether and which tests will be applied are to be seen.
What does this mean for existing systems?
There is no uniform statement from the laboratories regarding the existing systems already in the market.
So far there is no official statement from the German ZLS (National Central Authority for Safety Engineering) regarding the inspections to be done in Germany.
Same situation in other European Countries.
- Therefore, it is currently not possible to answer questions on the validity of the existing European certificates.
- In case that an existing system does not meets the additional requirements of the laboratories, it is still unclear whether the systems already on the market may be used further or taken out of the circulation.
Differently to an update or improvement on a standard, we are here in situation of change. The existing norm has been withdrawn, questioning its validity.
This can lead to doubting on the safety of products already in use on the markets, and a call for sorting these products out of circulation. This makes sense since accidents have occurred in the past.
What does this mean for SKYLOTEC products:
For products in use on the different markets, we are currently waiting for clarifications from the testing centers.
As we have no reason to doubt concerning the safety of our systems, no measures will be taken until clarifications and thus we can allow the further use of the SKYLOTEC systems.
We have already engineered our fall protection SPEED runners in order to meet any additional requirements. The SPEED has been not only tested according to the EN 353-1, but it has also gone through tests mentioned in several discussion on additional requirement such as setback situations or directed Dummies
For this reason, the SPEED meets all requirements of the PPE Directive and is conform to European laws even after the withdrawal of the EN 353-1.
Please find enclose a confirmation letter.
We regret not to be able to give you better information, and above all, provide you a legal safety while using these systems.
Unfortunately, the legal situation is unclear.
We will keep you informed on novelties and changes in our Newsletter.