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ASTM Treestand Fall Arrest System Standard Aims at Safety

For many sportsmen, hunting is a much anticipated event, and a treestand, ingeniously engineered to be strong, lightweight and portable, is a piece of equipment often used for deer hunting by those using bow and arrows or a gun. Hunters who use these compact treestands then benefit from a safety harness to prevent injury in case of a fall.

Subcommittee F08.16 on Archery Products, a part of Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities, has focused on recreational full body harnesses in a new standard now available for purchase from ASTM: F 2337, Test Method for Treestand Fall Arrest System.

“Because our focus is on safety in treestands, we needed full body harnesses that would be functional and that hunters would use,” says John Woller, Sr., the founder of Summit Treestands, a member of the Treestand Manufacturers Association board of directors and a member of F08.16. He adds that hunters have typically chosen not to use harnesses that meet industrial standards as they typically have been heavy, noisy and cumbersome. There have been injuries from the use of simple safety belts over the years, and a harness is a safer alternative, consequently, the standard addresses such gear.

“These harnesses must withstand the force of 300 lbs. dropping a distance of twice the length of the tether or 6 ft., whichever is less, without a failure,” Woller notes, and they will be constructed to minimize the shock load, which F08.16 determined would be a sure determination of the safety of these harnesses. Technically speaking, the method is intended to measure the maximum arrest force and dynamic strength for fall arrest systems and their components.

Harnesses meeting the requirements of this performance standard must pass tests for the climbing belt, dynamic strength, and both feet-first and face-first falls. Intended for program quality assurance and production quality control purposes – not independent material or product acceptance tests – the method involves dropping a harnessed test torso from a wooden pole in a free fall. The standard also includes a method to record test results.

Copies of ASTM standards are available for purchase from Customer Service (phone: 610/832-9585; or online at www.astm. org. For further technical details, contact John Woller, Sr., Summit Treestands (phone: 256/353-0634). For membership and meeting details, contact James Olshefsky, director, committee services, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9714). //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International