Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR ATTACHING A CONNECTING LINK
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/041837
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to an applicator for attaching a connecting link to an attachment point. The applicator includes a body and a holding member. The holding member has a support member for supporting the connecting link relative to the body, and a gate-restraining member for releasably restraining a gate of the connecting link towards an open position. The gate-restraining member is configured to engage the gate so as to urge the connecting link towards the support member, thereby to positively secure the connecting link against the support member in use.

Inventors:
ELKINS MARK (AU)
Application Number:
AU2019/050920
Publication Date:
March 05, 2020
Filing Date:
August 29, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
W R B NOMINEES PTY LTD (AU)
International Classes:
F16B45/02; A62B1/04
Foreign References:
US4595223A1986-06-17
FR3000902B12016-03-11
DE202017004254U12017-09-14
US20050275230A12005-12-15
US8398134B12013-03-19
GB2455467A2009-06-17
US6412432B12002-07-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHELSTON IP PTY LTD (AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims:

1 . An applicator for attaching a connecting link to an attachment point, the applicator including:

a body;

a holding member having a support member for supporting the connecting link relative to the body, and a gate-restraining member for releasably restraining a gate of the connecting link towards an open position,

wherein the gate-restraining member is configured to releasably engage the gate so as to urge the connecting link towards the support member, thereby to positively secure the connecting link against the support member in use.

2. An applicator according to claim 1 wherein the holding member supports the connecting link relative to the body such that the connecting link is aligned with a longitudinal axis of the body.

3. An applicator according to claim 2 wherein the holding member supports the connecting link relative to the body such that a longitudinal axis of the connecting link extends in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body.

4. An applicator according to claim 3 wherein the support member extends orthogonally from the body.

5. An applicator according to claim 4 wherein the support member includes a pair of substantially parallel members configured to receive a portion of the connecting link therebetween.

6. An applicator according to claim 5 wherein the parallel members are parallel wall portions.

7. An applicator according to any one of claims 3 to 6 wherein at least a portion of the support member is formed from a friction enhancing material.

8. An applicator according to any one of claims 3 to 7 wherein the gate-restraining member extends about a portion of the gate to partially enclose the portion of the gate.

9. An applicator according to claim 8 wherein the gate-restraining member is configured to abuttingly engage one side of the connecting link while an opposite side of the connecting link is free.

10. An applicator according to claim 8 or claim 9 wherein the gate-restraining member includes an arm and a catch, the arm being configured to space the catch a predetermined distance from the body and the catch being configured to restrain the gate.

1 1. An applicator according to claim 10 wherein the arm extends from the body at a predetermined angle relative to the support member.

12. An applicator according to claim 10 or claim 11 wherein the gate is releasable from the catch by moving the connecting link away from the arm.

13. An applicator according to any one of claims 10 to 12 wherein the gate abuts against an underside surface of the catch when the connecting link is loaded in the applicator.

14. An applicator according to any one of the preceding claims mountable to an extensible handle for extending a user’s reach.

Description:
Device and method for attaching a connecting link

Field

[0001] The present invention relates to safety devices and methods. More particularly, the invention relates to devices and methods for attaching a connecting link to an attachment point.

[0002] The invention has been developed primarily as a device for attaching a carabiner to an attachment point on a fall casualty during a rescue operation and will be described predominantly in this context. However, it will be appreciated that the invention is not limited to this particular field of use, being potentially applicable in a wide variety of applications where it is desired to attach a connecting link to an attachment point. For example, the invention may be applicable in a variety of situations other than rescue operations, including but not limited to indoor climbing, rock climbing, tree climbing, arboriculture, installation of safety equipment, general workplace operations or construction operations.

Background

[0003] Any discussion of the prior art throughout the specification should in no way be considered as an admission that such prior art is widely known or forms part of common general knowledge in the field.

[0004] Working at heights carries a number of inherent risks, particularly risks associated with falling. Where a fall hazard cannot be eliminated or adequately guarded, workplaces frequently mandate the use of suitable fall restraint or fall arrest systems in order to protect workers from the hazard. While fall restraint systems prevent falls from occurring, fall arrest systems are designed to minimise injury to a worker if a fall occurs. In the event of a fall, the casualty may be suspended via a safety tether and must be subsequently rescued (or able to execute a self-rescue).

[0005] Prompt rescue is often essential to minimise the risk of injury or death of the fall casualty. However, effecting a rescue often poses dangers to the rescuers, who may themselves be at risk of a fall (particularly when the rescuer is located above the casualty) or exposure to other hazards.

[0006] Accordingly, there is a need for rescue apparatus which enables quick and effective rescue of a fall casualty, while minimising risk to both the casualty and the rescuer. In particular, there is a need for apparatus which allows a rescuer to quickly and safely attach rescue apparatus to the casualty, particularly when the casualty is out of arm’s reach of the rescuer.

Summary

[0007] According to one aspect of the invention there is provided an applicator for attaching a connecting link to an attachment point, the applicator including:

a body;

a holding member attached to the body and configured to support the connecting link and releasably restrain a gate of the connecting link in an open position when the connecting link is loaded in the applicator.

[0008] According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided an applicator for attaching a connecting link to an attachment point, the applicator including:

a body;

a holding member having a support member for supporting the connecting link relative to the body, and a gate-restraining member for releasably restraining a gate of the connecting link towards an open position,

wherein the gate-restraining member is configured to releasably engage the gate so as to urge the connecting link towards the support member, thereby to positively secure the connecting link against the support member in use.

[0009] The connecting link is preferably of the type having a looped frame and a movable portion or gate. The gate is preferably movable into and out of a closed position, such that, when out of the closed position (that is, in an open position), at least a portion of the connecting link may be passed through an attachment point, for example an opening in another object (for example but not limited to, a harness, buckle, additional carabiner, anchor or hook). Preferably, the gate is resiliency biased towards the closed position. Preferably, the connecting link includes a spring mechanism for providing the resilient bias. The gate is preferably hingedly connected to the frame and pivotable between the open and closed positions.

[0010] In preferred embodiments, the connecting link is a carabiner. However, it will be appreciated that the applicator may be adapted to work in combination with other forms of connecting hardware having a hook and a resiliency biased gate, for example but not limited to a snap link, snap shackle, bolt snap, spring gate snap hook, eye snap or other similar form of connecting hardware.

[001 1] A carabiner (or karabiner) is a known piece of safety equipment well understood in the art having a looped frame and a spring-loaded gate. The looped frame has a spine, a hinge and a nose. The spring-loaded gate is hingedly attached to the frame at the hinge and is pivotable between an open position and a closed position. When the gate is in the open position an opening is created in the loop. When the gate is in the closed position the gate latches against the nose of the carabiner frame. Carabiners are generally elongate, having a major axis and a minor axis.

[0012] In a particularly preferred embodiment, the carabiner is a triple action auto-locking carabiner. However, it will be clear to a person skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to a particular carabiner type and that various other forms of carabiners may be suitable for use with the applicator, including carabiners of various shapes (for example, D, asymmetric D, pear, oval, or other shaped carabiners), various gate types (for example, straight gates, bent gates and/or wiregates) and various opening systems (for example, single, double or triple action) or other variations.

[0013] The carabiner is preferably selected to provide adequate strength for loads likely to be encountered during a rescue operation, preferably including shock loading. Preferably, the carabiner is rated in accordance with an appropriate industrial standard, such as AS/NZS 1891 .1 or similar.

[0014] Preferably, the carabiner is formed from steel, however it will be appreciated that other suitable metal, polymer or composite materials with adequate strength characteristics may be used.

[0015] Preferably, the applicator body is elongate. In some embodiments, the body is an elongate stem. Preferably, the stem is substantially rigid. The stem may be formed from a material such as, for example, steel rod. It should be appreciated, however, that alternative materials may be used, including cast or formed materials, plastics, wood or composites having appropriate strength and rigidity for the application.

[0016] The body may include a proximal portion and a distal portion. Preferably, the proximal and distal portions of the stem are each substantially straight elongate stem portions. Preferably, the axes of the proximal and distal portions are set at a relative angle to each other. Preferably, the inclusive angle formed by the intersection of the stem portion axes is in the range of 90° to 180°, more preferably 140° to 170°, more preferably 150° to 160°, most preferably 155°.

[0017] The proximal and distal portions may be directly or indirectly joined. Preferably, a curved transition portion joins, or is otherwise arranged intermediate, the proximal and distal portions.

[0018] Preferably, the body is adapted to be mountable (preferably, releasably mountable) to a handle for extending the reach of a user. The body and the handle may each include complementary fastening formations for connecting, directly or indirectly, the body to the handle. The fastening formations may include, but are not limited to, threads, snap locks, spring clamps, pin-connections, interlocking male and female formations or other suitable fastening mechanisms.

[0019] In preferred embodiments, the handle is a hollow pole and a handle-engaging portion of the stem is mountable by a sliding fit to the pole. The stem to pole sliding fit may be male-to-female or female-to-male. The handle-engaging portion of the body is preferably complementary in shape to the pole and sized to be slidingly engageable in a distal end portion of the pole. Preferably, the handle-engaging portion is located at or adjacent to a proximal portion of the stem.

[0020] The handle-engaging portion may be adapted to engage a locking mechanism, preferably a releasable locking mechanism, for locking the handle to the body and preventing relative sliding motion therebetween. The locking mechanism may include one or more suitable fasteners.

[0021] In preferred embodiments, the locking mechanism includes a releasable pin adapted to extend through respective receiving holes in the body and handle. Preferably, the body includes a passage, or through-hole, for receiving a pin connection. Preferably, the through- hole is oversized relative to the pin diameter to allow easy insertion and removal of the pin.

[0022] Preferably, the through hole is located substantially centrally to the stem shaft. Preferably, the through-hole is located a predetermined distance from a proximal end of the body. The predetermined distance is preferably configured to provide adequate strength to the connection between the body and the handle.

[0023] In some embodiments, a distal end of the stem is capped or otherwise blunted. This advantageously allows the distal end of the stem to be used to push against the casualty during a rescue operation if necessary. As an example, this may be useful if a suitable attachment, such as a dorsal rescue D of a harness worn by the casualty, is inaccessible in the casualty’s fallen or hanging position. The casualty may be turned or otherwise repositioned by pushing with the capped distal end of the stem until the desired attachment point is accessible. Preferably, the cap material is elastic to cushion the end of the stem and minimise the risk of injury to the casualty during a repositioning manoeuvre. Preferably, a rubber stopper is provided to cap the distal end of the stem. It should be appreciated, however, that alternative materials may be used to form the cap such as metals, plastics, composites or other suitable materials.

[0024] The holding member is advantageously configured to support a carabiner (or other connecting link) and to releasably restrain a gate of the carabiner in the open position when the carabiner is loaded in the applicator. Preferably, the holding member supports the carabiner when loaded in the applicator such that a spine of the carabiner is positioned adjacent to the distal portion of the body stem such that longitudinal axes of the spine and distal portion of the stem are substantially aligned in parallel. In other embodiments, the holding member is configured such that the carabiner is supported in a position offset from the stem, or at an angle relative to the longitudinal axis of the stem. In some embodiments, the holding member supports the connecting link relative to the body such that the connecting link is aligned with a longitudinal axis of the body. In some embodiments, the holding member supports the connecting link relative to the body such that a longitudinal axis of the connecting link extends in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body.

[0025] Preferably, the holding member is located at or adjacent to a distal portion of the stem. In some embodiments, the holding member is mountable to the stem so as to be located at a predetermined distance from the distal end of the stem. The holding member may be attached directly or indirectly to the stem. In some embodiments, one or more components of the holding member may be movable or adjustable in relation to the stem to accommodate connecting links of various types and/or sizes. Alternatively (or additionally), the holding member may be movable, or include moving parts, or be biased to impart additional holding force to the carabiner. In preferred embodiments, the holding member is fixed to the stem and does not have any moving parts. In some embodiments, the holding member is releasably attachable to the stem. It will be appreciated that this arrangement greatly simplifies manufacture and may provide optimal strength and durability to the applicator.

[0026] Preferably, the holding member includes a support member and a gate-restraining member. Preferably, the gate-restraining member is located distal to the support member. The support member and the gate-restraining member may be discrete components or may be integrally formed or otherwise joined together. Preferably, each of the support member and the gate-restraining member extend predetermined distances from the stem.

[0027] In some embodiments, the body, support member and gate-restraining member are each formed from metal, preferably steel, more preferably mild steel. The support member and gate-restraining member are preferably connected to the body by welding or other suitable fastener. However, it will be appreciated that the invention is not limited to this particular material or joining method and that other materials or joining methods may be selected to provide appropriate durability and strength to the applicator.

[0028] The support member preferably includes a cradle for receiving a portion of the carabiner frame. Preferably, the cradle receives a portion of the carabiner frame proximal to the hinge. Preferably, the support member does not restrict movement of the gate or otherwise interfere with the operation of the gate. Preferably, the carabiner frame is held loosely within the cradle when in the loaded position and may be quickly and easily released.

[0029] The support member is preferably connected, directly or indirectly, to the body. In preferred embodiments, the support member is fixed to the body. It will be appreciated that fixing the support member to the body may advantageously simplify manufacture and provide optimal strength to the applicator. In other embodiments, the support member may be movable relative to the body, or otherwise adjustable to accommodate a range of carabiner sizes or connecting link types.

[0030] The support member preferably extends from the body substantially orthogonally to a longitudinal axis of the distal portion of the stem. However, it will be appreciated that the invention is not limited to this particular arrangement, and that the support member may extend from the body at a variety of other angles.

[0031] The support member preferably extends a predetermined distance from the body. Preferably, an axis of extension of the support member from the body is substantially coplanar with the axes defined by the proximal and distal stem portions of the body. In other embodiments, the axis of extension may lie in a plane intersecting with the axis of the distal stem portion of the body.

[0032] Preferably, the support member includes a pair of substantially parallel members extending outwardly from the stem to define a cradle for receiving the portion of the carabiner frame therebetween. Preferably, the parallel members are positioned either side of and equidistant from the midline of the stem. In other embodiments, one or both of parallel members may be offset a predetermined distance from the midline of the stem. An end portion of the support member is preferably provided to substantially prevent movement of the carabiner away from the body of the applicator when the carabiner is in the loaded position. In some embodiments, the end portion is located at or adjacent to a distal region or tip of one or both parallel portions. Preferably, the end portion joins the distal ends of the parallel portions to each other.

[0033] In some embodiments the support member is a looped strip. The loop is preferably elongate in cross section. Preferably, the longer sides of the loops are substantially parallel wall portions extending from the body for receiving the carabiner frame portion therebetween. Preferably, the shorter sides of the loop define a pair of end portions. Preferably, the end portions are substantially orthogonal to the parallel portions, such that the loop has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional profile. The looped strip is preferably connected, directly or indirectly, to the body. Preferably, the loop is connected to the body at one of its end portions. The other end portion may function to prevent the carabiner frame from moving away from the body.

[0034] In some embodiments, the support member includes a floor portion defining a base of the cradle for limiting the extent to which the carabiner can be received in the support member, while in other embodiments, the support member has an open base (or through passage) such that a portion of the carabiner may pass therethrough, in use.

[0035] Preferably, the loop is formed from a segment of hollow structural section (HSS) tubing, preferably rectangular hollow structural section (RHS) tubing. The tubing segment has a length, a wall thickness, and a breadth and height associated with the rectangular cross- section. The dimensions of the tubing are preferably selected to allow a predetermined portion (e.g. a narrow end of a D-shaped carabiner) of the carabiner frame to be received in or fit within the cradle defined by the loop. Preferably, the cradle is slightly oversized with respect to the carabiner frame to ensure that the carabiner frame is held loosely within the support member and may be quickly and easily released.

[0036] In some embodiments, at least a portion of the support member is formed from or lined with a friction enhancing material for increasing the frictional coefficient. Preferably, the friction enhancing material is rubber, however, it will be appreciated that other friction enhancing materials may be selected. The friction enhancing material advantageously reduces the likelihood of the carabiner slipping out of the holding member prior to application. Preferably, the frictional material lines the interior surface of the cradle. In some embodiments, the frictional material may extend all the way around the interior surface of the loop. Preferably, the frictional material lines at least an interior surface of one of the parallel side portions of the loop.

[0037] In particularly preferred embodiments, a pair of rubber pads line the parallel side portions of the holding member. Preferably, the rubber pads are each 3mm thick.

[0038] Preferably, the support member is connected to the stem a predetermined distance from the distal end of the stem. The predetermined distance is preferably determined with respect to the length of the carabiner spine such that, when loaded in the applicator, the distal end of the carabiner frame is substantially aligned with the distal end of the applicator. In some embodiments the carabiner may extend beyond the distal end of the applicator. In other embodiments, the distal end of the applicator may extend beyond the end of the carabiner. This advantageously positions the end of the stem to allow for its use in repositioning a casualty as described above, if required, while minimising the risk that the carabiner will be released from the applicator during this manoeuvre. Advantageously, forces acting on the carabiner in the axial direction of the stem only serve to seat the carabiner more securely into the support member.

[0039] The gate-restraining member is configured to releasably restrain a gate of the carabiner in an open position when the carabiner is loaded in the applicator and supported by the supporting member. Preferably, the gate-restraining member engages at least a distal end region or tip of the gate, relative to a hinge connection of the gate, to prevent movement of the gate from the open position to the closed position. Preferably, the distal end region or tip of the gate abuts the gate-restraining member when the carabiner is loaded in the applicator.

[0040] The gate-restraining member may be configured to extend about a portion of the carabiner frame and a portion of the gate when the carabiner is loaded in the applicator thereby to restrain the gate. Preferably the gate-restraining member partially surrounds or encloses the gate. The gate-restraining member may be configured to extend about the left- hand side or the right-hand side of the carabiner.

[0041] Preferably, the gate-restraining member is configured to abuttingly engage one side of the connecting link while an opposite side of the connecting link remains free (or substantially unenclosed). It will be appreciated that leaving a side portion of the gate and frame free or unenclosed advantageously allows for release of the gate from the gate restraining member simply by rotating the applicator relative to the carabiner such that the carabiner moves away from the gate-restraining member, thereby to release the gate.

[0042] Preferably, the gate-restraining member includes an arm and a catch. The arm is connected, directly or indirectly, to the body at its proximal end. In preferred embodiments, the arm is fixedly connected to the body. In other embodiments, the arm may be adjustable relative to the body to facilitate use with carabiners or connecting links of varying shapes and sizes.

[0043] The arm preferably extends from the body such that it is substantially coplanar with a parallel wall of the support member. In other embodiments, the arm may be offset from a wall of the support member.

[0044] The catch is preferably located at a distal end portion or tip of the arm and extends away from the arm to engage the tip of the gate. Preferably, the catch extends orthogonally from the arm. In certain embodiments, the catch extends at substantially 90° from the arm, such that the gate-restraining member is substantially L-shaped in cross-section. In other embodiments, the catch may extend at other angles from the arm.

[0045] The arm and catch are preferably integrally formed. For example, the gate restraining member may be formed from an elongate strip wherein the catch is a bent, curved or crooked distal tip portion of the strip. In other embodiments, the arm and catch may be discrete components joined together by a suitable fastening mechanism.

[0046] Preferably, the gate-restraining member is positioned relative to the support member such that the carabiner gate is retained by the catch when the carabiner is seated in the cradle defined by the support member. Preferably, the distal end portion or tip of the gate abuts against an underside of the gate-restraining member to restrain movement of the gate.

[0047] The arm may be configured to space the catch a predetermined distance from the body. In some embodiments, the predetermined distance substantially corresponds to a distance defined by the combined thickness of the carabiner spine and gate when the gate is in the open position, such that the gate is restrained in a fully open position. In other embodiments, the predetermined distance may be configured such that the gate is restrained in a partially open position. Preferably, the predetermined distance allows for some movement of the gate relative to the frame when the carabiner is in the loaded position to facilitate quick and easy loading of the carabiner into the applicator and to facilitate reliable release of the carabiner once it is hooked into to the attachment point.

[0048] Preferably, when the carabiner is loaded in the applicator, a portion of one side of the carabiner is abuttingly and slidingly engaged with the arm thereby to prevent rotation of the carabiner relative to the applicator in one direction. Further, when loaded, a distal end portion or tip of the gate is preferably abuttingly engaged with the catch (preferably, with an underside surface of the catch) thereby to prevent movement of the gate from the open to the closed position.

[0049] The arm may extend from the body at an angle relative to the direction of extension of the support member. In some embodiments, the direction of extension of the arm is substantially aligned with the direction of the force vector generated by the spring-loaded gate abutting against the catch. Preferably, an included angle between the axis of extension of the support member and an axis parallel to the direction of extension of the arm is greater than 0°, more preferably greater than about 10°, more preferably greater than about 20°, more preferably greater than about 30°, most preferably about 40°.

[0050] Advantageously, in embodiments where the catch extends orthogonally to the arm and the arm extends at a positive angle relative to the direction of extension of the support member, the force of the spring-loaded gate pushing against the catch urges the carabiner towards the support member thereby seating the frame of the carabiner securely in the cradle defined by the support member. In other embodiments where the arm does not extend at an angle relative to the support member, an underside surface of the catch may define a plane at an angle relative to the direction of extension of the support member to achieve the same effect. Accordingly, once the gate is released from the gate-restraining member, the carabiner is no longer urged towards the support member and easily separates from the applicator. Advantageously, this provides a single action (or single movement) release mechanism which is quick and easy to use. Further, the absence of any moving parts in the preferred embodiment of the applicator increases durability and reliability of the applicator in operation.

[0051] Preferably, the gate-restraining member does not include any moving parts. In other embodiments, the gate-restraining member may be adjustable relative to the body to accommodate various types or sizes of connecting links. In some embodiments, the gate restraining member may be movable or biased to impart additional holding force to the carabiner frame.

[0052] In some embodiments, the applicator further includes a handle. The handle is preferably elongate and configured to extend the reach of the user. The handle is preferably an elongate pole. The pole may be extensible, preferably telescopically extensible. Preferably, the pole includes at least two slidingly connected pole segments. The pole segments may be defined by substantially rigid hollow tubing. The pole segments may be secured together by a securing mechanism. Preferably, the securing mechanism allows the effective length of the handle to be adjusted by sliding the poles relative to each other and securing the poles to each other when the desired length is achieved.

[0053] Preferably, the handle is releasably connectable to the body. In embodiments employing a hollow pole, an interior cavity of the pole may be configured to receive a handle engaging portion of the body. In other embodiments, the pole may be configured to insert into a handle engaging portion of the body.

[0054] The handle may have a length of up to many metres in its fully extended state. In experiments leading to the invention, an extended length of about 2m was found to provide an optimal compromise between extending the reach of the user while retaining the required degree of control to quickly and reliably attach the connection. However, it will be appreciated that the invention is not limited to use with this particular length of handle.

[0055] Preferably, a locking member is provided for locking the handle to the body. Preferably, the locking member is a pin connection. The pin preferably has an associated retaining clip for preventing unintentional release of the pin and separation of the body and handle. However, it will be appreciated that other mechanisms suitable for locking the handle to the body may be selected. [0056] According to another aspect of the invention there is provided a method for attaching a spring-gated connecting link to an attachment point, the method including the steps of:

a) providing a spring-gated connecting link;

b) loading the connecting link in an applicator configured to support the connecting and releasably restrain the gate of the connecting link in an open position;

c) manipulating the applicator as required to hook the connecting link onto the attachment point; and

d) releasing the gate of the connecting link thereby to secure the connecting link to the attachment point.

[0057] Preferably the connecting link is a carabiner, preferably a triple action locking carabiner. However, it will be clear to a person skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to a particular carabiner type and that various other forms of carabiners may be suitable for use with the applicator, including carabiners of various shapes (for example, D, asymmetric D, pear, oval, or other shaped carabiners), various gate types (for example, straight gates, bent gates and/or wiregates) and various opening systems (for example, single, double or triple action) or other variations.

[0058] Preferably, the method includes an additional step of mounting the applicator on a handle. Preferably, the handle is configured to extend the reach of the user. Preferably, the handle is an extensible pole.

[0059] Preferably, the gate of the carabiner is released by rotation of the applicator relative to the carabiner thereby to free the carabiner from the applicator. Preferably, the carabiner is released from the applicator in a single action (or single movement). In other embodiments, the carabiner may be released in a two or more step procedure.

[0060] The method may include the additional step of attaching a rope (or a safety line), directly or indirectly, to the carabiner. In some embodiments, the rope is first attached to one or more secondary carabiners which are then attached to the carabiner loaded in the applicator. In other embodiments, the carabiner may be attached, directly or indirectly, to a pulley or haulage system,

[0061] According to another aspect of the invention there is provided a kit for use in a rescue operation, including:

a spring-gated connecting link; and an applicator for attaching the spring-gated connecting link to an attachment point, the applicator including:

a body;

a holding member attached to the body and configured to support the connecting link and releasably restrain the gate of the connecting link in an open position when the connecting link is loaded in the applicator.

[0062] Preferably, the connecting link is a carabiner, preferably a triple action locking carabiner. However, it will be clear to a person skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to a particular carabiner type and that various other forms of carabiners may be suitable for use with the applicator, including carabiners of various shapes (for example, D, asymmetric D, pear, oval, or other shaped carabiners), various gate types (for example, straight gates, bent gates and/or wiregates) and various opening systems (for example, single, double or triple action) or other variations.

[0063] Preferably, the kit further includes a handle engageable with the applicator to extend the reach of the user. The handle is preferably an extensible pole.

[0064] The kit may further include one or more ropes. Preferably, the ropes are configured for attachment to the carabiner. The rope length may vary depending on the requirements of the workplace or application. A common length of rope may be about 50 metres. The rope is preferably rated according to an appropriate standard. Preferably, the rope has a braided outer core around a twisted core construction.

[0065] The kit may further include a haulage system. The haulage system may include one or more pulleys. Preferably, the haulage system includes 2 pulleys. The haulage system is preferably configured to provide a 3:1 ratio. In other embodiments, the haulage system may include 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5 or more pulleys, and be configured to provide any ratio depending on the requirements of the application. Each pulley may be rated to an appropriate standard. In a preferred embodiment, each pulley is rated to 30KN, and has a minimum breaking strength of 45KN. However, it will be appreciated that that the haulage system is not limited to the particular parameters specified, and may be selected according to the particular needs of the end user or application.

[0066] The kit may further include a braking unit. The braking unit is preferably configured to receive the rope and to provide a back-up braking device for use by the rescuer. This advantageously provides additional control to the rescuer. The braking device is preferably controllable by the rescuer to lock the rope when required.

[0067] The kit may further include one or more secondary connecting links. Preferably, the secondary connecting links are carabiners. Preferably, the carabiners are each rated to an appropriate standard. In a preferred embodiment, the carabiners are rated to 30KN. Preferably, the secondary carabiners are made from steel. Preferably, each of the secondary carabiners has a 26mm gate opening. Preferably, each of the secondary carabiners is a triple action auto-locking carabiner. However, it will be clear to a person skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to a particular carabiner type and that various other forms of carabiners, or other types of connecting links, may be suitable for inclusion in the kit.

[0068] The kit may further include one or more anchor straps. Preferably, the ends of the anchor straps interlock. In a preferred embodiment the anchor straps are formed from webbing, preferably polyester webbing, and are provided with interlocking rings, preferably D- rings, at their ends.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0069] A preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0070] Figure 1 is a perspective view of an applicator according to a preferred embodiment of the invention shown with a carabiner in a loaded position therein;

[0071] Figure 2 is a front view of the applicator of Figure 1 ;

[0072] Figure 3 is a side view of the applicator of Figure 1 ;

[0073] Figure 4 is a top view of the applicator of Figure 1 ;

[0074] Figure 5 is a cross sectional view of a gate-restraining member of the applicator of Figure 1 ;

[0075] Figure 6 is a front view of an extensible pole for use with the applicator of Figure 1 shown in an extended state; [0076] Figure 7 is a side view of the extensible pole of Figure 6;

[0077] Figure 8 is a front view of the pole of Figure 6 shown in a collapsed state; and

[0078] Figure 9 is a side view of the pole of Figure 8.

Detailed Description

[0079] Referring to the drawings, an applicator 1 for attaching a connecting link in the form of a carabiner 2 to an attachment point is shown.

[0080] The carabiner 2 has a looped frame and a spring-loaded gate 5. The frame has a hinge 6 and a nose 7, defining an opening therebetween, and a spine 8. The gate 5 is hingedly connected to the frame at hinge 6 and extends across the opening. The gate is movable between an open position and a closed position. When in the closed position, a distal end 5’ of the gate is in latching engagement with the nose 7. The gate 5 is resiliently biased by the spring-loading towards the closed position. In the illustrated embodiment, the applicator 1 is adapted to engage a triple-action carabiner 2 having a 26mm gate opening. In other embodiments the applicator 1 may be adapted for use with a variety of other carabiner shapes and sizes.

[0081] The applicator has a body in the form of an elongate stem 3 and a holding member 4 mounted to the body and configured to support the carabiner and releasably restrain a gate of the carabiner in an open position.

[0082] The stem 3 has a proximal portion 9 and a distal portion 10. A protective cap in the form of a rubber stopper 11 is provided to blunt the distal end of the stem 3.

[0083] The proximal portion 9 and distal portion 10 of the stem are each straight elongate portions of steel rod, set at an angle relative to each other. In the illustrated embodiment, the included angle between the stem portions is 155°. It will of course be appreciated that the invention is not limited to this particular exemplary embodiment and that other angles may be selected.

[0084] The holding member 4 includes a support member 12 for supporting the frame of the carabiner, and a gate-restraining member 13 for releasably restraining the gate 5 of the carabiner. [0085] As best illustrated in Figure 3, the support member 12 is a looped strip formed from a segment of rectangular hollow structural section (RHS) tubing. In the illustrated embodiment, the holding member is formed from a 15mm length of RHS tubing having dimensions 50mm by 25mm with 3mm wall thickness. However, it will be appreciated that the holding member is not limited to these particular dimensions. The support member 12 is joined to the distal portion 10 of the stem at one of its short sides, such that the two longer sides define a pair of parallel walls 14 extending out from the stem 10, equidistant from the midline of the stem. The loop defines a cradle 12’ for receiving a portion of the carabiner 2 frame therebetween.

[0086] As can be seen in Figure 1 , when the carabiner is in the loaded position, a narrowed portion of the carabiner frame adjacent the hinge 6 is received in the cradle 12’ between the walls 14 of the support member 12. The support member 12 is advantageously sized to limit the extent to which the carabiner extends into the support member. In this way, the size of the cradle ensures that the support member does not interfere with movement of the gate 5 when the carabiner 2 is in the loaded position.

[0087] Each of the parallel walls 14 preferably is lined internally with a friction enhancing material in the form of rubber pads 15. The rubber pads 15 advantageously increase the frictional resistance between the carabiner and the cradle 12’, thereby to support the carabiner 2 more securely therein. The rubber pads 15 may also protect the carabiner 2 from damage due to abrasion against the support member 12.

[0088] The gate-restraining member 13 is illustrated in Figure 5 and includes an arm 16 and a catch 17. In the illustrated embodiment, the gate-restraining member 13 is integrally formed from a segment of RHS tubing having the same dimensions as the support member by removing one long side and one short side of the rectangle to define an L-shaped member.

[0089] As can be seen in Figure 1 , when the carabiner 2 is loaded in the applicator, the arm and the catch extend partially around a distal end region or tip 5’ of the gate thereby to partially enclose the tip 5’ and prevent the spring-loading from returning the gate to the closed position.

[0090] The catch 17 is spaced from the body by the arm 16, which is welded to the stem at its proximal end. The arm 16 is secured at an angle relative to the axis of the distal portion of the stem 10 such that it forms an included angle of 40° relative to the support member. It will be appreciated that by setting the arm 16 and catch 17 at such an angle, when the gate of the carabiner abuts against the catch, the carabiner 2 is advantageously urged towards the support member 12 thereby seating the carabiner frame more securely therein.

[0091] The arm 16 and catch 17 advantageously extend only partly around the gate tip 5’ leaving one side of the gate tip unenclosed by either the arm or the catch. This allows for quick and easy release of the carabiner from the applicator by rotating the applicator relative to the carabiner to release the tip 5’ of the gate from the catch 17 and thus free the carabiner 2 from the applicator 1. Once the gate 5 is free from the catch, the carabiner 2 is no longer urged into the support member 12 and easily separates from the applicator.

[0092] In some embodiments, the applicator 1 includes a handle in the form of an extension pole 18, as shown in Figures 6 to 9. The extension pole 18 is formed from two members in the form of tubes 19 and 20. Tube 19 is a sliding fit inside tube 20, and the two members are secured together by a securing mechanism in the form of clamp 21. The effective length of the pole 18 is adjustable by releasing clamp 21 and sliding tube 19 into or out of tube 20 to achieve the desired handle length and then re-securing clamp 21.

[0093] The distal end of the pole is provided with a body engaging portion 22, fastened to tube 19 by fasteners 23. The body engaging portion 22 is configured to receive a handle engaging portion of the proximal portion 9 of the stem by a sliding fit therein. A pin connection 24 extends through respective through holes 25’ and 25” in the pole 18 and the proximal portion of the stem 9 thereby to lock the stem 3 to the pole 18. The pin connection 24 is provided with an associated retaining clip 26 for preventing accidental removal of the pin.

[0094] In use during an example rescue operation, the stem 3 is secured to the pole 18 by sliding the proximal portion 9 of the stem into the body engaging portion 22 of the pole and locking the stem to the pole by inserting pin 24 through through-holes 25. Retaining clip 26 is applied to the pin to prevent accidental release of the stem from the pole.

[0095] Further safety equipment may be attached to the carabiner 2 as required. This may include secondary carabiners, ropes, pulleys or haulage systems or other equipment as required by the situation.

[0096] The carabiner 2 is loaded in the applicator by first unlocking the gate 5 and then applying squeezing pressure against the resilient bias to open the gate. While holding the gate 5 in an open position, the portion of the carabiner frame joining the spine 8 and the hinge 6 (e.g. the narrow end portion of the D-shaped carabiner) is presented to the cradle defined by the support member 12 such that the gate 5 faces away from the stem 10. From this position, the carabiner is rotated to bring the spine 8 adjacent the stem 10 such that their longitudinal axes are substantially aligned and to latch the tip 5’ of the gate under the catch 17. The squeezing pressure may then be released. The resilient bias will urge the gate 5 towards the closed position, causing the tip 5’ of the gate to abut against catch 17 and thus urge the carabiner 2 securely into the cradle defined by the support member 12.

[0097] As can be seen in Figure 1 , when loaded in the applicator 1 , the spine 8 of the carabiner 2 is adjacent and substantially aligned in parallel with the distal portion of the stem 10, with the gate 5 facing away from the stem. The angle between the proximal and distal portions of the stem 3 advantageously exposes the opening in the carabiner 2 and optimally positions the nose 7 for hooking into a desired attachment point (for example on a harness of a fall casualty).

[0098] The pole 18 is extended (if necessary) to the required length to allow the user to reach a desired attachment point, for example, a dorsal rescue“D” on a fall casualty’s harness. If required, the casualty may be gently repositioned by pushing the distal end of the stem 3, capped by the rubber stopper 11 , against the body of the casualty to turn or otherwise reposition them until clear access to the attachment point is achieved. Advantageously, pushing or otherwise applying force on the carabiner does not cause the carabiner to release from the applicator. Therefore, the capped end of the pole can be used to gently manipulate the casualty into a suitable position with minimal risk of the carabiner accidentally releasing from the applicator.

[0099] The applicator 1 with loaded carabiner 2 is then manipulated to hook the nose 7 of the carabiner through the attachment point. A twisting motion is then applied to the applicator to rotate the applicator. The carabiner resists the twisting motion as it is hooked through the attachment point. This causes the carabiner to rotate relative to the applicator. This motion causes the gate tip 5’ to move away from the arm 16 and free of the catch 17. The gate tip 5’ is free to move in this direction as it is not enclosed by the arm 16 or the catch 17 on that side. Once the gate tip 5’ is free of the catch 17, the resilient bias causes the gate to snap shut and the carabiner 2 freely separates from the applicator 1.

[00100] it will be appreciated therefore that the present invention advantageously allows a rescuer to quickly and safely attach rescue apparatus to a casualty, and advantageously extends the reach of the rescuer. [00101 ] In some situations, for example, where an attachment point is within reach or only slightly out of reach of the rescuer, it may not be necessary to mount the stem 3 on the extension pole 18. In such cases, the user may simply grip the proximal portion 9 of the stem 3 as a handle. It will be appreciated that the elongate stem 3 advantageously extends the reach of the user even in the absence of the extension pole 18, albeit to a lesser degree. Where an attachment point is within arm’s reach of the user, the applicator advantageously presents the carabiner 2 in a position for easy application.

[00102] It will also be appreciated that the invention is applicable for attaching carabiners or connecting links to a variety of attachment points other than a harness. For example, it may be desirable to attach a connecting link to an anchor point in a roof or wall, a safety barrier, another connecting link, rope, sling or other attachment point depending on the application. Additionally, the applicator may be applicable in a variety of situations other than rescue operations, including but not limited to indoor climbing, rock climbing, tree climbing, arboriculture, installation of safety equipment, general workplace operations or construction operations.

[00103] Although the invention has been described with reference to specific examples it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the invention may be embodied in many other forms.