BSI urged to develop PRE standard

The BSI is being urged to develop a standard for public rescue equipment such as throw bags Photo: wikimedia The BSI is being urged to develop a standard for public rescue equipment such as throw bags Photo: wikimedia

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has been encouraged to develop a standard for public rescue equipment (PRE) following the failure of a throw bag rescue line during a capsize drill in Widnes.

The incident, in which no one was injured, took place in a training incident at the Warrington Rowing Club. A young person was pulled to the side of the pool using a RIBER throw bag rescue line, the line broke. Tests revealed that one of the four thermally fused joints had failed. Furthermore these joined sections were found to be 12 times weaker than the line itself. A customer notification campaign identified a further ten throw bags with defective rescue lines.

Other safety concerns

RIBER has taken action to prevent recurrence of faulty manufacturing but according to the MAIB report. Other manufacturers have reported similar safety concerns, not only with fused joints but also with deterioration of throw bag lines when exposed to sunlight, loss of strength when subject to friction and poor attachment of the line to the bag.

Other than the general obligation under EU rules that ‘all products entering the EU market are safe’ there are no specific laws governing the quality of PRE and it is not mandatory to carry it on commercial or leisure vessels.

Recommendations

As a result of this incident, the MAIB has published a safety bulletin warning of potential dangers and providing guidance on how to identify poorly manufactured throw bag rescue lines. The organisation has also supplied user feedback to the BSI to inform any future standard that may be developed. Finally it has recommended that the BSI develop an appropriate standard for PRE ensuring that throw bags and their rescue lines are addressed as a priority.

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