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Calculation of Vertical Fall Arrest Forces

Calculation of Vertical Fall Arrest Forces

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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

c

For 0.1 < f < 2, where

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.

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

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.

Page 1 of 4

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

harnesses.

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).

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.

KN Kp

N/mm psi

3

50,000 7,256,894

56,894

2

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

Fall Factor ( f )

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

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

welder?

C

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.

1.4

219.604 + 1,728.83

1,948.43

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.

b = 0.8

s = 0.7 (assume synthetic tear fabric shock absorber)

c = 1.4

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

absorber.

Answer: _____________________

Page 4 of 4

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