It’s not uncommon to see construction workers working at height without fall protection, particularly on small sites, where workers worry complex, cumbersome equipment will slow them down.
MSA Safety is challenging this perception of fall protection with its new V-SHOCK, a self-retracting lifeline for building contractors designed with simplicity and robustness in mind.
Karl Jones, Global Industrial Design Leader at MSA Safety tells us more.
What is V-SHOCK and who’s it aimed at?
V-SHOCK is a self-retracting lifeline that we’ve designed specifically for contractors in the construction market. The first release from the range is a 1.8m personal fall limiter (PFL) with an impact modified protective casing that’s shock resistant.
How tough is it?
It’s very tough. In fact, we believe V-SHOCK is tougher than any other PFL on the market. That’s because we’ve engineered it to stand up to the high level of wear and tear that are typical of life on a busy construction site.
Are there any other benefits that building contractors will be particularly interested in?
Yes. As well as being very robust, V-SHOCK is extremely reliable with a non-slip rubberised casing that makes it easy for contractors to carry around. Robustness was a key consideration for us because construction contractors are constantly on the move and they don’t want equipment that damages easily.
And what if someone actually has to use V-SHOCK – what’s the technology involved?
A high level of engineering expertise goes into all MSA Safety products and the new V-SHOCK is no exception. The product uses a sealed energy absorber, providing assured reliabilty when you need it most. This is critical because if you’re on the move and hard at work you want to know you’re going to be safe at all times, without having to stop and constantly check your fall protection equipment.
How important is fall protection in the construction market?
It’s absolutely crucial. Contractors know that they need fall protection they can really trust and not have to worry about. Ultimately, lives are at stake here. We take this really seriously and that’s why MSA Safety invests so heavily in innovation, research and development. In reality, a contractor needs his fall protection decision to be an easy one. And V-SHOCK is the answer – designed with simplification and robustness in mind, the result is an extremely tough and reliable PFL.
We understand that MSA Safety actually has a Fall Protection Centre of Excellence where products are developed. What is this?
Yes, our Fall Protection Centre of Excellence is located in Devizes, Wiltshire. It’s a purpose-built facility employing over 100 people who research, develop and produce fall protection solutions such as V-SHOCK. In addition to the construction sector, we also supply sectors such as rail, aerospace and oil and gas. In each case, we take time to understand exactly what a particular sector needs, tailoring solutions carefully to the different working environments and conditions.
What’s your role at the Centre of Excellence?
My job is to place the user at the centre of the design and, through research and development, engineer products that respond to their needs. Additionally, we continuously drive for industry-leading designs. One of the ways we do this is to study other industries and identify transferrable technologies.
Take Formula One, for example. It’s a sector that is performance driven with absolutely no margin for error and it’s exactly the same with fall protection equipment. You simply can’t afford for things to go wrong because that’s when someone could lose their life. That’s always at the front of my mind.
Apparently it was a workplace tragedy that actually led to the creation of MSA Safety. Tell us a bit about that
Yes, the company was born after 80 miners died in an explosion at the Jed Mine in West Virginia. A mine engineer called John Ryan wanted to prevent a similar accident happening in the future and so he got together with a colleague George Deike to create equipment that would make mining safer. With the help of the great thinker and inventor Thomas Edison, they created the electric cap lamp which reduced mine explosions by an astounding 75 per cent over the next 25 years.
In the years since then, MSA has continued to transform workplace safety, making it safer to work in potentially dangerous applications including both deep underground and high above ground. We were delighted to acquire the Latchways brand two years ago because this has enabled us to significantly expand our fall protection offering. And this in turn has led to the creation of innovative new products such as V-SHOCK.