OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 41 Work Requiring Rope Access

Section 819 Cow’s tail

A cow’s tail is defined in the OHS Code as a short strap, lanyard or sling connected to the main attachment point of a harness. Cow’s tails are used to connect the worker’s harness to the safety line via a back-up device and to the working line via an ascender. Cow’s tails should be able to withstand any dynamic forces that may be imposed on them in case of a fall.

While manufactured cow’s tails are available, and therefore subject to a manufacturer’s testing and quality assurance programs, many rope access workers create their own from short lengths of rope. If a cow’s tail is made of rope (some are made of webbing), it must be made of dynamic kernmantle rope. The rope must be approved to CEN Standard EN 892: 2004 or UIAA Standard 101: 2004. Readers are referred to the explanation for section 818 for information about these standards.

If a cow’s tail is not made of dynamic rope, it must be approved to CEN Standard EN 354: 2002, Personal protective equipment against falls from a height – Lanyards. This Standard specifies the requirements, test methods, marking, and information to be supplied by the manufacturer for non-adjustable and adjustable lanyards. The Standard allows lanyards to be made of synthetic fibre rope, wire rope, webbing or chain and limits their overall length to 2 m. Lanyards made from synthetic fibre ropes or webbing must be able to sustain a force of at least 22 kN without separating, tearing or rupture of any lanyard element. The force applicable to lanyards made of metallic material is 15 kN.