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New Personal Rescue Device Enables Self-Rescue from 65’ Up | Construction News

New Personal Rescue Device Enables Self-Rescue from 65’ Up | Construction News

An English company named Latchways plc is now introducing a patented, easy-to-use self-rescue system that lets a person lower him or herself gently to the ground from heights of up to 65 ft.

The innovative evacuation solution, named the Personal Rescue Device, or PRD, weighs just 7 lbs. It incorporates a strong but light full-body harness with a built-in “backpack” that contains a drum of Aramid rope that’s light but stronger than steel, plus a sealed friction brake/clutch that regulates rope payout speed.

Latchways introduced the PRD at the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) in Louisville, Ky., at the beginning of October. The apparatus was on display in the booth of Nesco Sales & Rentals, which is a PRD distributor for the North American utility market.

The PRD is worn like any other safety harness and is connected to a safety anchor point on an aerial lift or elevated worksite by the same safety lanyard a worker would use with any other safety harness.

If the wearer falls out of the aerial lift’s work platform and is dangling from the lanyard, he or she simply pulls a shoulder-mounted ripcord to activate the PRD, which lowers the wearer gently to the ground at an average of 3.2 fps. The clutch regulates rope payout speed regardless of a user’s weight, which can be up to 310 lbs.  The PRD works in temperatures from -40° F to 140° F.

If the PRD wearer is unconscious or incapacitated while suspended, rescuers can activate the lowering mechanism from a distance by pulling on a shoulder-top trigger loop made for easy grabbing with a hook.

Latchways sales manager Duncan Mathieson says the PRD meets the ANSI Z359.4 standard, as well as being IP56 rated and arc-flash rated. In addition, says Mathieson, the harness and backpack are made of materials that are unaffected by sunlight, and the unit has an expected life of 10 years or one rescue.

At the show, Latchways and Nesco were running a video that shows a PRD allowing a fallen worker to rescue himself in a total of 27 seconds. The video can be seen on the Latchways website,

Says Mathieson, “The PRD offers several advantages over assisted rescue. First, it is always available to the wearer, even if he or she is working alone. Second, it is faster than mobilizing a rescue team and gathering the necessary equipment. Third, it reduces the need to put rescuers at height—and at risk themselves.”

Nesco and Latchways are taking orders for the PRD now, with delivery expected to start in early 2014.


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