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Calculation of Vertical Fall Arrest Forces

This equation allows users to apply imperial units, to compute arresting force. The fall
factor f, is the ratio of h/L, and no correction factor is needed.
Fp = (0.031Wp g) + (1.012 0.003125Wp f Kp) a b s
For 0.1 < f < 2, where

a = fall arrest device reduction factor, Table 1

b = body support reduction factor, 0.8 for body harness
c = rigid weight/manikin factor, 1.4
f = fall factor (h/L), ratio
g = gravitational acceleration, 32.2 ft/s
Fp = maximum arresting force, lbf.
h = freefall distance, ft.
Kp = lanyard tension modulus, psi figure 1
L = lanyard/lifeline length, ft.
S = shock-absorber reduction factor, table 2
Wp = weight of mass, lbs.

Table 1. Fall Arrester Device Reduction Factor: a

Inertia type, wire rope LL 0.7
Inertia type, synthetic LL 0.9
Friction 0.7
Mechanical lever 1.0
No fall arrester 1.0

Table 2. Shock-Absorber Reduction Factor: s

Tear Stitches 0.6
Tear Fabric (synthetic) 0.7
Tear Fabric (wire rope) 0.6
No shock absorber 1.0

h = free-fall distance. This is usually twice the U-shaped slack of the lanyard. However,
for clearance calculations, be sure to add approximately 5 feet for a harness in order to
ensure clearance for the workers limbs hanging below the harness D-ring.

L = active length of the lanyard or combined lifeline/lanyard length. The longer this line,
the longer the stretch that has to be included when calculating clearances.

a = fall arrester device reduction factor. In general, the reduction of the maximum
arresting force by a fall arrest device is the result of several phenomena, of which
dissipation of the fall energy due to friction between the fall arrest device and the vertical
lifeline is a primary contributor. The reduction factor, a, is defined as the ratio of the
maximum arrest force in a fall arrest system with a fall arrest device, to the maximum
arrest force in a fall arrest system without a fall arrest device (under the same conditions,
with all other elements of the fall arrest system being the same). An inertial wire rope
grab can have a reduction factor of 0.7, and a synthetic rope grab can have a value as high
as 0.9, if there is no slip.

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When no fall arrest device is included in the system, use a factor of 1.0. These factors
have been experimentally determined for each device. When the exact value of (a) is not
known, the highest one for the particular type of fall arrest system should be employed.

B = body support factor. This is based upon laboratory drop tests and is 0.8 for body

c = rigid weight to human weight factor. OSHA has adopted a 1.4 factor (a 220 lb. rigid
weight is equivalent to a 310 lb person in its 1910.66, appendix C).

s = shock-absorber reduction factor. This is used to provide additional shock absorption

to that in the lanyard. Most independent shock absorbers reduce the arresting force on the
body to a range of 600 900 pounds. Within the overall strength of the shock absorber,
the values generally range between 0.4 and 0.7. When very long falls are anticipated, the
capacity of the absorber must be checked.

K = rope modulus (extensional stretch). In this text, the term modulus is used to indicate
the stretch measured when rope is subjected to various loads. There is little correlation
between modulus for stretch and the term tension modulus (normally used in
engineering calculations), unless the area of the stress member, the angle of twist of the
rope, and the length of the lanyard/vertical lifeline are included in the calculation and
yield strengths are not exceeded.

Rope modulus, K, versus fall factor, f

N/mm psi
50,000 7,256,894
45,000 6,531,204
Modulus ( K ) 1
40,000 5,805,515

35,000 5,079,835

30,000 4,354,136

25,000 3,628,447

0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1.0 1.25 1.5 1.75 2.0

Fall Factor ( f )
NOTE: Modulus for 5/16-inch diameter wire rope cable 6 x 21 is 13 million psi.

1. -inch diameter 3 strand, nylon 6.7 lb/100 ft.

2. 5/8 inch diameter, 3 strand, nylon 9.6 lb./100 ft.
3. 5/8-inch diameter 3 strand, polypropylene 8.5 lb/100 ft.

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Example 1.

A 220-pound welder was exposed to an elevated fall hazard. He had been issued a 6-
foot, 5/16-inch (6x21) wire rope lanyard with a fiber core and a full body harness with a
single, back D-ring. When the welder slipped and free fell 6 feet, the wire rope lanyard
arrested his fall. What was the maximum arrest force (in pounds) experienced by the

Fp = (0.031WP g ) + (1.012 0.003125Wp f Kp) a b s


Wp = 220 lbs.
h = 6 ft.
L = 6 ft.
f = (h/L) = 1
Kp = 13,000,000 psi (taken from U. S. Wire Rope Engineering Handbook)
a = 1 (no fall arrester)
b = 0.8
s = 1 (no shock absorber)
c = 1.4
g = 32.2 ft/s

a b s = 1 0.8 1 = 0.57144
c 1.4

Fp = (0.031 220 32.2 ) + (1.012 0.003125 220 1 13000000) 0.57144 = 1,948.43 lbf.

Lets see how this breaks down.

We will perform the above problem in three steps.

Step one divide the problem into its separate entities.

0.031 x 220 x 32.2 1.012 x 0.003125 220 1 13000000) 1 0.8 1


219.604 + 1.012 x 2989.565 x .57143

219.604 + 3025.44 x .57143

219.604 + 1,728.83


The value of 1,948.43 pounds exceeds the 1,800-pound limit required by OSHA. Thus,
the welder should be minimally equipped with a shock-absorbing lanyard component to
add to the wire rope lanyard.

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Example 2.

Substituting the appropriate values for this condition yields

a = 1.0 (no fall arrester)

b = 0.8
s = 0.7 (assume synthetic tear fabric shock absorber)
c = 1.4

a b s = 1 0.8 0.7 = 0.4

c 1.4

Fp = (0.031 220 32.2) + 1.012 0.003125 220 1 13000000) 0.400 = 1,429.78 lbf.

The addition of the shock absorber brings the maximum arrest force experienced by the
welder to within acceptable limits.

Example 3.

A worker weights 185 lbs and is using shock absorber with tear stitches.

Answer: _____________________

Example 4.

A worker weights 200 lbs and is using a wire rope fall arrester, and a wire rope shock

Answer: _____________________

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