Innovative fall protection systems
In Europe alone, tens of thousands of wind turbines produce energy for countless households. Turbine maintenance or servicing is fundamental to ensure it stays this way. Because employees regularly work at great heights they cannot manage without fall protection systems – for example, when climbing a tower by means of a fall arrest system. PES went to find out about how SKYLOTEC ensure the safety of their employees and the training they offer both in house and globally.
Leading manufacturers of fall protection equipment, such as SKYLOTEC, develop solutions for working at heights on wind turbines, with cleverly designed details, which enable simplified application and reduce the risk of an accident. Nevertheless, even if the equipment is intuitive to operate, regular training courses for rescuing colleagues involved in an accident are vital.
In Europe, whenever maintenance or servicing work is due to be carried out on the wind turbines, fall protection for employees is mandatory. This does not just apply to once they have already reached the nacelle or the high external areas. In many cases, employees belonging to the maintenance firms or the operator can only reach these work areas by means of a fall arrest system, such as a ladder that is installed within the tower.
The system can consist of a steel cable and a cable runner. This is worn on the body as part of Personal Fall Protection Equipment (PFPE) and attached to the harness when climbing. When the runner is attached to the steel cable, users can climb safely up and down. It also makes it easy for them to carry work materials or tools with them. In the event of a fall, a brake is triggered on the runner, preventing the user from falling.
When selecting an appropriate cable runner, solutions are required which are state-of-the-art and, therefore, EN 351-1:2014 certified as a guided fall arrester on rigid anchor line. The introduction of this European standard raised technical safety requirements and factors other than normal ascent and descent were taken into consideration such as, for example, the user pulling the arrest device with one hand or forces acting on the arrest device laterally in the event of a fall. This can happen for instance if cable runners are used in wind turbine towers.
Manufacturers have since been faced with the challenge of taking into consideration EN 351-1:2014 when developing new fall arrest systems. Given the changes to technical safety requirements a new cable runner took centre stage at SKYLOTEC too. The manufacturer of fall protection equipment, which develops and manufactures its products in Germany, is constantly working on new solutions.