Tested to destruction

17 August 2011

“When we decide on a new product we test it until we are 100% happy with the functionality, the quality and the safety,” says Securetech MD. Michael Green,” otherwise it’s back to the drawing board and we start all over again” he adds.

In testing, a product changes many times until the staff are absolutely sure that it is ready for the market and fulfils its intended purpose. The cycle in the case of a non-safety critical product may be a bit shorter, but it is still rigorous! Quality and suitability are paramount in this case.

In the case of safety critical items they are developed to complement the existing range of recovery items and provide improved levels of safety. As we all know a recovery failure can have disastrous consequences, with injury to participants as well as damage to vehicles.

The Recovery Safety Lanyard is such an item, conceived after a session with staff and instructor’s, development took many years, with ongoing testing and evaluation. Ultimately the team arrived at a finished product yet testing continues. In this case the tests take the form of simulated failures designed to show how the lanyard actually works.

Many of the “training guru’s” initially scoffed at the idea, thinking the lanyard to be overkill, calling it an extraneous piece of equipment, feeling that a strap or jacket draped over the recovery strap being used would be sufficient. However after a simulated failure all agree that it is invaluable.

The exercise itself is simple, a recovery using a kinetic strap or rope is rigged in the standard fashion to a tree, to simulate a vehicle the rigging is done through a hole cut into a “bakkie” bonnet. Normal safety procedures are followed regarding bystanders and the strap or rope is rigged to a recovery vehicle with a shackle via a link that is designed to fail when a force in excess of 4000kg’s is exerted.

It’s simple, the rope or strap stretches like a catapult and when the link fails the shackle is propelled towards the bonnet causing considerable damage. It’s an awesome demonstration of what could go wrong. The simulation with a Recovery Safety Lanyard in place is next in line, the lanyard is hitched over the rope or strap behind the link and shackle; it’s designed to “arrest “them in the event of a failure. The simulated failure is perhaps less exciting to see as the lanyard does its job and literally chokes the rope as it breaks loose, dropping it harmlessly to the ground!

However when examining the rope and lanyard afterwards one can see the force exerted, the lanyard in the picture has choked the shackle, successfully arresting it. The sheer force of this action has actually deformed and crimped the shackle. If that’s the only damage you would incur in the event of a real failure then surely a Recovery Safety lanyard should be part of your kit?

“I have seen many so called "efficient" recoveries go wrong because of equipment failure and application abuse, now with the addition of the Recovery Safety Lanyard much of the danger is alleviated, should there be an equipment failure. In my opinion, this is the future of a safe recovery and I would not go anywhere without at least a pair of lanyards”, says Travis Krause MD. of Toyota Advanced Driving.