Technical Information / FAQ's

Welcome to the Abaris International technical information page, below you will find information that will hopefully be of interest to you, including some of the more frequently asked technical questions relating to our products and their use.

You will also find useful product updates, tips & tricks, offers & a whole lot more interesting posts, links & articles on our social media:

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Useful Reports / Technical Know-how

Irata International Code of Practice for Industrial Rope Access (Information on Planning and management of rope access jobs, Training, Equipment and Methods of Work
Kit maintenance (Petzl's tips for correct gear maintenance, includes transport, storage, washing and marking)
Petzl - Headlamps
Petzl - Ropes
Petzl - Pulleys
Petzl - Karabiners
Petzl - Helmets
Petzl - Harnesses
Petzl - Slings, lanyards, and energy absorbers
Petzl - Ascenders
Petzl - Belay devices and descenders
Irata Technical Report - May 2012 (Includes information on rope / edge protection, back-up devices and rope & rope stretch)
Rope access back-up device performance on tensioned lines - Dec 2012 (Includes test results of back-up devices on a loaded rope)
HSE Industrial rope access Report - Investigation into items of personal protective equipment - 2001 (Includes detailed testing on Ropes - types & strength reduction with knots & after contamination / Anchor forces / Rope protection & performance / Rope Access devices - Ascenders, Descenders & Back-ups / Lanyard & Cowstail performace / Prusik note types & performance)
Corrosion of metals used in Rope Access (Presentation giving information on the various types of corrosion you might find on rope access gear) 

Frequently asked technical questions

1) What are the product lifetimes / lifespans for Petzl, Beal, Lyon etc and our other work at height equipment?
2) How can I find the age of a Petzl product? 
3) Can I use a Grigri for work positioning?
4) Can I put my own piece of replacement rope in a Grillon?
5) What is a 2ft, 3ft, 4ft, 5ft or 6ft Sling (in CM)? 
6) What can I do if an item of my PPE is contaminated by human body fluid (Sick / Vomit, Blood, Urine etc)?
7) How can I clean my rope?
Is it OK to put a sticker on a helmet?
9) European EN standards

Useful Skills

How to coil a rope (Courtesy of the BMC)


1) What are the product lifetimes for Petzl, Beal, Lyon, Edelrid, DMM, Mammut etc products?
The Personal Protective Equipment (EC Directive) Regulations 1992 state that if a product is subject to ageing then the manufacturer must provide an obsolescence deadline for the product and information to allow the user to establish a reasonable obsolescence date (which depends upon a multitude of factors). 

In all cases an exceptional event can lead you to retire a product after only one use, depending upon the type and intensity of usage and the environment of usage (harsh environments, sea, sharp objects, extreme temperatures, dust, sand, chemical products, etc). A product must be retired when it is older than the lifetimes detailed below, it has been subjected to a major fall (or load), it fails to pass inspection (you have any doubt as to the products reliability), you do not know its full usage history or if it become obsolete due to changes in legislation, standards, technique or incompatibility with other equipment etc.  

Lifetime = Time of storage before first use + time in use (Beal ropes / cords can be kept for 5 years before first use without affecting its future lifetime duration in use). Beal Semi-static rope lifetime: Intensive and daily use 6 months, Daily use of average intensity 1 year, Weekly and intensive use 1 year, Weekly use of average intensity 2 years, Periodic daily use of use average intensity 3 years, Several uses during the year of average intensity 5 years, very occasional light use 10 years. Beal Dynamic ropes and Accessory cords:  Intensive and daily use 1 year, Weekly and intensive use 2 years, Daily in-season use of average intensity 3 years, Weekly intensive use of average intensity 5 years, Several uses during the year of average intensity 7 years, very occasional light use 10 years.

Capital Safety - DBI-SALA / Protecta
Textile products or products containing a textile element - A textile product or element may lose its characteristics with time. This is especially true for products which are subjected to climate corrosion, sunlight deterioration, chemicals, mechanical contact, and dirt ingress. In these cases all products will undergo accelerated ageing.

General estimates of the lifespan of textile products are dependent on its use and environment, as well as it being correctly stored while not in use:
• Up to a maximum 10 years from the date of manufacture.
• If used rarely: 6 to 8 years from the date of first use.
• If used regularly: up to 5 years from the date of first use.
• If used very heavily and/or in aggressive areas: less than 1 year from the date of first use.7 years from date of 1st use.

Mechanical products, Self Retracting Lifelines - For mechanical products that require mechanical servicing during inspection which allows the replacement of
• No service life limit as long as the recommended servicing and repair is undertaken and documented by a CSG trained competent person. 

For mechanical products that cannot be serviced during inspection so the internal mechanism cannot be checked.
• Up to a maximum 10 years from the date of manufacture.
• If the product has a textile element for the lifeline or shock absorber, the rules of textile products
should be followed.

Permanently Installed Fall Arrest Anchorage Systems - For permanent systems, such as horizontal or vertical cable systems:
• No service life limit providing that the recommended service schedule is up kept, and the
maintenance is performed by a CSG trained competent person.
The shuttle or sleeve used to connect to these systems:
• Must undergo an annual inspection in line with the whole system.
• No service life limit as long as the recommended servicing and repair is undertaken and
documented by a CSG trained competent person.
• If the product has a textile element for example shock absorber the rules of textile products should
be followed.

Temporary Fall Arrest Anchorage Systems - For temporary anchorage systems, such as removable eyebolts and temporary horizontal cable systems
• No service life limit providing that the recommended service schedule is up kept, and the
maintenance is performed by a CSG trained competent person..
For temporary horizontal or vertical systems manufactured from webbing or rope
• The rules of textile products should be followed.
• The travelling units for these systems are governed by the same rules as apply to the permanent

For Vacuum Anchors:
• No service life limit providing that the recommended service schedule is up kept, and the
maintenance is performed by a CSG trained competent person. 

Textile and plastic products - 10 years from date of manufacture. Metal products - no time limit.


Total shelf-life assuming ideal storage conditions and no use is 12 years from date of manufacture (Storage life before first use without depreciation of maximum useable life is 2 years from date of manufacture). Occasional and appropriate use without obvious wear and tear and with optimal storage is 10 years.

HB Climbing Wales
We are unable to verify the lifetime of HB products as HB went out of business in 2005. However at that time, most height safety products made of textile were given a 5 year lifespan, metal 10 years. This means that all HB products are now out of date.   

The combined periods of storage and use of heightec textile products should not exceed 10 years from the date of manufacture. This is the maximum life of items which have occasional, sporadic use and have been stored for long periods. Not all equipment will remain in a useable state for this length of time. In extreme conditions the life of a product may be limited to a single use.

Please see the following estimates of lifetime depending on type of use:
0 – 0.5 year extreme use
0.5 – 1.5 years heavy use
1.5 – 3 years typical regular use
3 – 5 years light use
5 – 10 years occasional / intermittent use

Heightec metalwork products may be used until they are worn out or otherwise damaged (subject to proper inspection by a competent person).

10 years for plastics or textile products and indefinite for metal products.


Textile products: Intensive use 3 to 6 months, Weekly use 12 months, Occasional use 5 years, Very occasional use 10 years (from date of manufacture). Metal products: Up to 10 years from date of manufacture.  

Maillon Rapides
The lifetime of a Quick Link (and how it ages) depends upon how it is used. Quick Links should be carefully checked at regular intervals by a qualified indvidual in strict compliance with the manufacturer's instructions. Visual checks (for corrosion, wearing, deformation etc) and functional checks (of threads etc) should be carried out at least once a year, along with checks for mark legibility. Extreme temperatures and the effects of chemical reagents, cuts and abrasions are all factors that could affect the performance of the equipment. 

The above information, taken directly from the manufacturer's user instructions implies an indefinate lifespan provided the product is inspected as per their recommendations. 

Mammut rope lifespan - unused and optimally stored 10 years. Rarely used (Twice a year) 7 years. Occasional (Once a month) 5 years. Regularly used (Several times a month) 3 years. Frequently used (each week) 1 year. Constantly used (almost daily) less than 1 year.

For Petzl plastic and textile products, the maximum lifetime is 10 years from the date of manufacture. It is indefinite for metallic products.

Until 1st January 2015 any item of Fall Protection Equipment manufactured by P&P Ltd with synthetic fibre components (webbing and / or rope) was subject to a maximum working life of 5 years from the recorded date of first use, provided that the item had been correctly stored, maintained and subjected to regular inspections by a trained and competent person. A new item could be stored for a maximum of 3 years and was still give the potential 5 year working life provided it remained in the original manufacturer's packaging. Once the product was taken from this original packaging for the first time, this date became the 'date of first use' and the 5 year working life began. From 1st January the lifespan on P+P products became 10 years. This is not retrospective for products manufacturerd before 1st January 2015.

Lifespan for Ridgegear Harnesses and Lanyards is 10 years from the date of manufacture. Ridgegear Fall Arrest Blocks must be serviced once a year.

For metal products the lifetime is 10 years from date of manufacture. For material products the maximum life is 10 years after the date of manufacture or five years after first use, whichever is sooner.

Spanset safety equipment has a 10 year shelf life but a 5 year working life. The working life begins as soon as the equipment is put into use (i.e. if it is on the shelf unused for 7 years then there will only be 3 years life remaining)

Harnesses - Update August 2014: Tractel® textile PPE equipment such as: harnesses, lanyards, ropes and energy absorbers. Tractel mechanical PPE equipment such as Stopcable™, Stopfor™ fall arresters, Blocfor™ self-retracting fall arresters and Tractel® lifelines can be used without restrictions* from their manufacturing date provided that:

- Use is in accordance with the instruction manual
- A periodic inspection is carried out at least every 6 months in accordance with BS 8437:2005 & INDG367, by a
competent person who will after inspection, authorise in writing that the PPE is fit to be returned to service
- The instruction manual procedures for storage and transport are strictly met

So for harnesses for instance, after the 10 year period following the date of manufacture, the equipment must be inspected by a competent person who can then authorise return to service in writing if appropriate. 

7 years from date of 1st use.

All Skylotec products produced from January 2018 onwards can be used for a maximum of at least 10 years, some product groups even longer. 

An overview of the maximum service life per product group can be found here.

2) How can I find the age of a Petzl product?
All new Petzl products are individually serial numbered and this number can also help the user establish the exact age of the item. For a full guide please see our "The Evolution of Petzl Serial Numbers – A complete guide" blog article.

Petzl Product Codes

3) Can I use a Petzl Grigri for work positioing (as a work positioning lanyard)?
No. This if for a number of reasons:

Firstly, a Grigri is designed and has been tested as as a belay device not a work positioning device and conforms to prEN15151-1, UIAA (Mountaining Equipment - Braking Device) rather than EN358 (PPE against falls from height: Work Positioining systems).

Secondly, it's sprung cam would potentially allow slippage when the device is under load (hence the requirement to hold the tail end of rope when using a Grigri to belay), a Grillon has a 'floating' cam which locks the rope when under load. 

Also worth noting that the Grigri can only be used with an EN892 (Dynamic) rope. The Grillon can only be used with the terminated Petzl Grillon rope as detailed below. 

4) Can I put my own piece of replacement rope in a Grillon?
No. The device has been tested as a work positioning lanyard using Petzl components and exchanging any of these will invalidate the warrantee and there is no guarantee that the device will work with other type / brands / sizes of rope.

5) What is the equivalent of a 2 foot / 3 foot / 4 foot / 5 foot / 6 foot Sling?
If by 2ft / 3ft / 4ft / 5ft / 6ft you mean effective working length (opposed to the total length of the sling material if you cut the loop and laid out the tape in one length with two ends) then:

2ft sling is 60cm (2ft = 61cm)
3ft is 90cm (closest sling available is 100cm but 90cm can be made to order - 3ft = 91.5cm)
4ft is 120cm (4ft = 122cm)
5ft is 150cm (5ft = 152.5cm)
6ft is 200cm (closest stock item sling available from Abaris is 200cm but 175cm are available on request - 6ft = 183cm)

6) What can I do if an item of my PPE is contaminated by human body fluid (Sick / Vomit, Blood, Urine etc)?

There are various views on contamination of PPE by human body fluid and whether you can simply wash the item affected. Firstly it is important to warn against the use of Milton to clean harnesses (we have heard of this being done to clean children's harnesses which have been contaminated by urine), Milton is a mild bleach which is very likely to adversely affect the material in the harness and this must NOT be used (unless a manufacturer specifically states it can). Each manufacturer make their own recommendations but below are some helpful pointers:

From Lyon Equipment (Petzl Distributor UK) - There are in our opinion two key points that must be considered when dealing with contamination of Personal Protective Equipment by Human Body Fluids.

1. The physical damage to the PPE caused by the contaminant.
2. The biological hazard posed by the contaminant.

It is widely accepted that vomit and urine can have an effect on the strength of textile materials because of their acidic nature. The extent of this damage is dependant on the material being exposed, the volume of body fluid applied, the mix of chemicals within the body fluid, and the time of exposure. With all these variables it is not realistically possible to give exact figures.

More importantly is the risk to health posed by the second point.

There are a variety of different opinions as to the best ways to clean items of PPE that have been exposed to body fluids (Urine, Blood, Vomit, body tissue etc). Some manufacturers allow washing in water-diluted mixes of commercial hospital grade disinfectant, others the use of specific chemicals.

However, the effectiveness of such methods of cleaning must be questioned.

Is the person carrying out the cleaning fully protected during the washing process? Do they know what possible biological hazards there may be on the item (Hepatitis, HIV etc)? How does the user know that the process has been successful and that there is no residual risk?

Unless an item is autoclaved or subjected to some other form of high temperature decontamination process (which may in itself damage the item), or is checked for residual hazard there can be no guarantee that the item is safe to use.

For these reasons we would therefore recommend that any PPE which is exposed to body fluids is treated as biologically contaminated waste and disposed of in an appropriate manner.

7) How can I clean my rope?

Wherever possible follow the specific manufacturers instructions. Mammut say that occasional washing helps maintain good handling and increases the ropes lifespan. They advise washing either by hand in warm water in the bath or in a normal household washing machine.  mild synthetic detergent is the most suitable. For machine washing, the same instructions for wool should be used. Dry it out in a cool, dark place (rather than hanging it up). NEVER tumble dry!  

8) Is it OK to put a sticker on a helmet?

Generally the answer is no, but there are a few manufacturers who are happy to put stickers that they make on your helmet before sending them out (Petzl for instance). This cannot be done retrospectively. The key reason for stickers being an issue is that a sticker can easily cover a crack or deformation in the helmet shell thus not allowing a full inspection of your PPE before and post use. There is also the problem that the ingredients of the sticker glue may affect the integrity of the shell. For a full guide please click our "Can you put stickers on safety helmets? How & where to mark PPE" blog article. 

9) European EN Standards 

Personal protective equipment against fall from a height

EN 341-A1:1998 Descender devices.
EN 353-1:2002 Guided type fall arresters including a rigid anchor line.
EN 353-2:2002 Guided type fall arresters including a flexible anchor line.
EN 354:2002 Lanyards.
EN 355:2002 Energy absorbers.
EN 358:1999 Devices for work positioning and restraint.
EN 360:2002 Retractable fall arresters.
EN 361:2002 Full body harnesses.
EN 362:1993 Connectors as connecting elements in the individual protection systems.
EN 362:2004 Connectors as connecting elements in the individual protection systems.
Class A: Anchor connectors
Class B: Basic connectors
Class M: Multi-use connectors
Class Q: Screwlink connectors (quick links)
Class T: Termination connectors

EN 795:1996 Anchor devices.
Class A1: Structural anchors for fixing to vertical, horizontal and inclined
Class A2: Structural anchors for mounting on sloped roofs
Class B: Temporary anchorage devices, portable
Class C: Anchor devices that use horizontal flexible anchor lines
Class D: Anchor devices that use horizontal rigid anchor rails
Class E: Mooring anchors

EN 813:2008 Sit harnesses.
EN 1496:2006 Rescue lifting devices.
EN 1497:2007 Rescue harnesses.
EN 1498:2006 Rescue loops.
EN 1891:1998 Low stretch kermnantel ropes.
Class A: Ropes designed for general use.
Class B: Ropes with lower performance than the previous class and will require greater care when using.

EN 12841:2006 Rope access systems, control devices.
Class A: Safety line adjustment device.
Class B: Working line ascender.
Class C: Working line descender.

Mountaineering equipment, safety requirements

EN 566:2006 Slings.
EN 567:1997 Rope clamps.
EN 568:2007 Ice anchors.
EN 569:2007 Pitons.
EN 892:2004 Dynamic mountaineering ropes.
EN 893:1999 Crampons.
EN 958:2011 Energy absorbing systems for use in klettersteig (via ferrata) climbing.
EN 959:2007 Rock anchors
EN 12270:1998 Chocks.
EN 12275:2013 Carabiners and Multi-anchor plates.
Class A: Anchor carabiners
Class B: Basic carabiners
Class D: Directional carabiners
Class H: HMS carabiners
Class K: Carabiners for via ferrata
Class Q: Screwlink carabiners (quick links)
Class X: Oval carabiners

EN 12276:1998 Frictional anchors.
EN 12277:2007 Harnesses.
Class A: Full body harnesses
Class B: Small body harnesses
Class C: Sit harnesses
Class D: Chest harnesses

EN 12278:2007 Pulleys.
EN 12492:2003 Helmets for mountaineers.
EN 13089:2011 Ice tools.
Type 1: Basic tools, for use on snow and/or ice
Type 2: Technical tools, for use on rock, snow and/or ice

Other safety approvals

EN 397:2000 Industrial safety helmets.


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