A fall factor is a simple representation of the severity of a fall. It can be used to evaluate the potential loadings exerted on the climber, the equipment and the anchor components.
Calculating a fall factor is achieved by simply taking the distance of the fall and then dividing it by the length of rope or lanyard available to absorb the energy;
While a fall factor does identify the possible loadings that will be exerted on both the climber and the equipment, even a low fall factor could have fatal consequences. Big falls can still result in low fall factors where attention should be made towards the amount of distance fallen and the necessary clearance required.
This page uses diagrams and references to testing standards to assist in the understanding of fall factors, these have been included purely for illustrative purposes only! In no way do they suggest a recommendation or represent how the equipment should or could be used.
Fall Factor Chart
The chart below displays several examples of different fall factors. All the lanyards are made from a two metre length of dynamic rope which has been clipped to a fixed anchor point.
Fall Factor Two – FF2
Normally we should not be able to achieve a fall factor greater than two (FF2). A fall factor two or FF2 could potentially exert a significant amount of force both on the climber and the equipment in the system, this will also include the anchor point! Dynamic climbing ropes certified to the European EN 892 standard are tested to withstand only a certain number of fall factor 1.77 falls prior to failure occurring.
It is bad practice to accept a fall factor two in any situation. Fall factors should be kept as minimal as possible to reduce the likelihood of excessive forces being applied to the climber and the equipment.