Leadership

Also refer to Part I – Core Standard

Naming conventions

Abseil & Climb naming conventions

The activity leader naming convention enables this activity standard to be related to Part I – Core Standard requirements.

It is important to clarify specific roles and competencies required to avoid the possibility of:

  • a “assistant guide” leading a group when “guide” competencies are required
  • a “assistant guide” or “guide” leading a group when “instructor” competencies are required.

All activity leader competencies needed for a particular role shall be clearly defined.

An abseiling and/or climbing instructor, has the competence to instruct participants so that they may undertake the activity independently.

An abseiling and/or climbing guide, has the competence to lead participants throughout the whole activity.

An abseiling and/or climbing assistant guide, has some but not all of the competencies of an abseiling and/or climbing guide, so can only lead participants through part of the activity under direct supervision.

The leadership naming conventions are:

‘’Abseiling guide”, ‘’Climbing guide”, “Abseiling instructor” and “Climbing instructor” can be the equivalent to Leader in Part I – Core standard.

 

Competencies

This section outlines the competencies that activity leaders should have.

Competencies overview

The Australian AAS refers to units from the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package for descriptive statements of the knowledge and skills required of activity leaders.

The Training Package units are used for the sole purpose of providing descriptions for the knowledge and skills required. It is not intended to imply or require that specific formal training, assessment or qualification is the only means of gaining or recognising knowledge and skills.

Providers can recognise activity leaders as having the ‘ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve expected results’ (i.e. competencies) in a number of different ways as detailed in Part I – Core Standard Recognition of competence.

The Training Package units listed can be found by searching for the units on the training.gov.au/Home/Tga website. The code provided with the unit name assists in this search.

Abseil & Climb competencies

Also refer to competencies section in Part I – Core Standard.

For activities that also involves bushwalking to the site, refer to the Bushwalking activity standard.

See abseiling competencies on this page.

See climbing competencies on this page.

 

Recognition of competence

Abseil & Climb recognition pathways

Refer to considerations for recognition pathways outlined in Part I – Core standard.

 

Supervision

Appropriate supervision shall be provided all times during the activity.

The number of participants permitted to actively participate in an activity shall be limited to the number the activity leaders can provide with direct supervision to deal with all aspects of the activity.

Spectators or participants currently non-actively participating should be located in a waiting area that reduces the likelihood:

  • of a fall from height
  • being struck from a falling object and/or
  • they interfere with the conduct of the activity.

Spectators or participants currently non-actively participating should where necessary be supervised independently.

 

Abseiling and climbing group size

Considerations when determining group size shall include but are not limited to:

  • site capacity
  • site related legislation or regulation
  • the time allowed to enable all participants in the group to complete the activity is sufficient and realistic and does not compromise safety
  • having appropriate supervision for non-actively participating participants.

Also refer to considerations for determining group size outlined in Part I – Core standard.

 

Recommended supervision

Considerations for determining supervision requirements may include but are not limited to:

  • characteristics of the site
  • the belay system use
  • participant training progression and competence
  • supervision requirements of participants who are waiting
  • time for the activity leaders to allow all participants to undertake the activity being sufficient and realistic
  • general considerations for determining supervision requirements outlined in Part I – Core Standard.

The supervision requirements and ratios for programs that train/teach participants to become guides or instructors should be determined on a case-by-case basis, according to the progress of those participants towards being fully independent guides or instructors themselves.

 

Participants that are non-actively participating

Consideration shall be given to the type of supervision participants required when non-actively participating (i.e. who are waiting to undertake the activity).

In cases where participants who are non-actively participating require direct supervision, that supervision shall be provided by an activity leader not providing direct supervision of an activity or by a responsible person as appropriate.

The following supervision recommendations are based on participants who are non-actively participating are either:

  • capable of self-managing their own safety in a waiting area based on instructions provided or
  • are under the supervision of either another activity leader not providing direct supervision of the activity or a responsible person.

 

Abseiling supervision

Adequate supervision shall be provided for participants both actively and non-actively participating.

Recommended supervision for participants actively abseiling and/or belaying, for single pitch or multi-pitch on natural or artificial surfaces:

  • top-belay with guide or instructor belaying at top:
    • 1 x abseil guide/instructor to 1 x belay system in use.
  • top-belay with participants used as belayers at top, with backup belayers, while in close proximity to each other:
    • 1 x abseil guide or instructor to a maximum of 2 x belay systems in use.
  • bottom braking:
    • 1 x abseil guide/instructor dispatching at top and 1 x abseil guide/instructor at the base to a maximum of 1 x active belay system in use.
  • self-belay (note: is context dependent based on an appropriate leaning progression):
    • 1 x abseil guide/instructor to maximum 2 x belay systems in use.

 

Climbing supervision

Adequate supervision shall be provided for participants both actively and non-actively participating.

Unless the belayers and climbers are assessed for competence it is recommended that they should be considered dependent participants and suitable supervision as recommended below is used.

Recommended supervision for participants actively climbing and/or belaying:

For single-pitch on natural or artificial surfaces:

  • top-belay with belayer at the bottom, with participants as belayers and backup belayers, while climbs in close proximity to each other:
    • 1 x climbing guide/instructor to maximum of 2 x belay systems in use.
  • top-belay with belayer at the top, with participants as belayers and backup belayers, while climbs in close proximity to each other:
    • 1 x climbing guide/instructor supervising belaying and 1 x assistant abseil guide supervising tying in (at the base) to a maximum of 2 belay systems in use.
  • lead climbing with participants as belayers and backup belayers, while climbs in close proximity to each other:
    • 1 x climbing guide /instructor to a maximum of 2 belay systems in use.
  • self-belay (note: is context dependent based on an appropriate leaning progression):
    • 1 x abseil guide/instructor to maximum 2 x belay systems in use.

For multi-pitch on natural or artificial surfaces:

  • climbing guide/instructor leading climbs; participants belaying:
    • 1 x climbing guide/instructor to a maximum of 4 participants.

For single-pitch artificial surfaces:

  • auto-belay top-belay with climbs in close proximity:
    • 1 x climbing guide/instructor to a maximum of 8 x belay systems in use.
  • lead climbing with participants as belayers and backup belayers, while climbs in close proximity to each other:
    • 1 x climbing guide /instructor to a maximum of 2 belay systems in use.

 

During activity

Knowledge of site

The knowledge and experience of the activity site that activity leaders require before leading participants at that site, should be considered when allocating activity leader roles.

 

Activity information

The information required shall be determine prior to the activity.

Required information shall be provided at the appropriate time before or during the activity.

Activity information that should be provided to participants includes but is not limited to:

  • site specific risks
  • the correct fitting of personal equipment
  • the correct use of the belay systems and other any other fall protection systems
  • the correct use of the activity’s systems
  • an appropriate technique(s) for the activity
  • the release procedures for belay system or other system
  • communications systems and requirements.

Where there is only has one activity leader, the group shall be briefed on what action to take to enact the emergency management plan if the activity leader becomes injured or incapacitated.

 

Climbing pre-activity information

Activity information that should be provided to participants climbing includes but is not limited to:

  • the activity information listed above
  • method for “falling off” and “recovering to the climb”
  • procedures for exiting at the top or being lowered back to the start.

 

Falling objects

Procedures to minimise the possibility or impact of falling objects shall include but are not limited to:

  • checking the site and anchors prior to use
  • ensuring helmets are worn where relevant as per the equipment section
  • designating waiting areas that reduce the expose to falling objects
  • briefing participants on potential hazards and how to avoid dislodging objects
  • briefing participants on the appropriate action and warnings to give if an object does fall
  • managing groups so that the groups and individual’s exposure within potential fall areas is minimised
  • minimising movement between areas that are located above others
  • supervision of participants while they are located above others.

Procedures to minimise the possibility or impact of falling objects should include but are not limited to:

  • placing belay areas where ever possible so that they are not directly under the climber
  • where allowed, remove loose objects that are likely to fall prior to running the activity
  • managing spectators and other people moving through the area.

 

Falls from height

Considerations for the likelihood of a fall from height include but are not limited to:

  • how close to the edge people are
  • the slope of the surface being stood on
  • the stability and grip of the surface being stood on
  • obstacles that need to be negotiated
  • abilities of participants including the ability to follow instructions.

To reduce the potential for falls from height, procedures shall include:

  • ensuring ropes are of a sufficient length for the pitch
  • monitoring the correct use of belay systems
  • monitor attaching to anchors or belay systems
  • monitor belay rope(s) to keep them at the appropriate length
  • monitor belay systems to remove unnecessary slack in belay ropes
  • providing appropriate instruction when the rope is dynamic rope to allow for rope stretch.

To reduce the potential for falls from height, procedures should include:

  • designating ‘no go’ areas
  • designating waiting areas
  • designating areas that can only be accessed when attached to the belay system
  • checking participant’s equipment is correctly fitted before they need to rely on the belay system
  • checking correct attachment to the belay system, safety or other systems
  • anchoring the belayer where the belay system relies substantially on the belayers weight to arrest a fall and the weight of the abseiler or climber is greater than that of the belayer.

 

Swinging falls

To reduce the potential for injury or damage to participants or equipment consideration should include but is not limited to the possibility of participants:

  • taking a route on an angle that creates the potential for a pendulum swing if control is lost
  • swinging or falling against or across hard, abrasive or sharp objects.

 

Entanglement and snags

The activity leader(s) should monitor belay rope(s) to keep them at the appropriate length and tension, to prevent the possibility of a slack rope becoming entangled or snagged.

To avoid entanglement in ropes and devices:

  • long hair shall be secured to stop it being able to be entangled
  • loose jewellery (g. bracelets and necklaces) should be removed or secured
  • loose clothing and drawstrings should be secured.

To avoid being caught or snagged, where there is such a risk:

  • rings should be removed or tapped over
  • body piercings should be removed or taped over.

 

Anchors and the belay & activity systems

Anchors shall be sufficient to protect a fall.

Procedures to ensure that all systems functions as intended shall include but are not limited to:

  • anchor systems are assessed as suitable to support the intended loads
  • anchor systems and equipment are suitable for the activity, site and participants
  • appropriate knots and connections are used
  • regular inspection of all anchors and connections where practicable
  • operating procedures and checks used will prevent unplanned disconnection of any part of the system
  • checking attachment and disconnection to the system during the activity.

Anchor systems and belay systems shall be rigged for a timely and effective rescue.

Considerations in rigging systems for rescue include but is not limited to:

  • load direction including multi-direction loads
  • load magnitude
  • ability to raise the person
  • ability to lower the person
  • ability to enable an activity leader to complete contact rescues.

Where a belay system requires a belayer, either the belayer shall be:

  • a competent belayer or
  • under direct supervision of an activity leader.

 

Abseil belay systems

Equipment and systems to affect a rescue shall be available.

Considerations for using a top belay system include but are not limited to:

  • any stretch in the belay system still allows it to effectively protect a fall
  • the likelihood of the abseiler spinning and twisting the belay and abseil ropes together which brakes the descent g. free abseiling, abseiling over overhangs.

Considerations for using bottom braking  include but are not limited to:

  • that any stretch in the belay system still allows it to effectively protect a fall
  • the belayers competence or ability to be appropriately supervised
  • the appropriate equipment required to ensure the descent speed is appropriate
  • the activity aims, and objectives being suited to the participants
  • any policy requirements of the ‘organisation’ engaging the provider to deliver activity for its participants (g. education department policy)
  • the appropriateness of the site
  • situations where abseilers are free hanging and/or negotiate overhangs is suited to the participants
  • the ability of the belayer to see the abseiler at all times
  • the likelihood of objects falling on the belayer.

Considerations for using self-belay (e.g. prussic brake) include but are not limited to:

  • the abseiler being competent in operating the self-belay system
  • having available equipment and systems to affect a rescue
  • the stretch in the belay system is too great for another belay system to effectively protect a fall.

 

Longer abseils

Considerations for longer abseils include but are not limited to:

  • appropriate communication systems to enable effective communication between the top and bottom of the pitch
  • use of an appropriate belay system that effectively protects a fall including:
    • checking if bottom braking is effective over the length of the abseil
    • checking if a two-rope system is effective over the length of the abseil
  • use of an appropriate descender device to handle the heat build-up over the length of the abseil
  • issues caused by the weight of the rope
  • the time the abseiler will be suspended in a harness
  • strategies to manage the varying amount of friction experienced over the length of the abseil, caused by the length and weight of the remaining rope below the abseiler reducing.

 

Forward abseiling

Some risks associated with forward abseiling are different to backwards abseiling and require additional risk management practices. Forward abseiling can cause significant discomfort to the abseiler.

Sit harnesses shall only be used when they:

  • are fit for purpose
  • are fitted as per manufactures instructions and not in reversed
  • fit the abseiler correctly
  • have manufactures endorsement for use in forward abseiling
  • will retain the abseiler if they become inverted.

A full body harness shall be used when a sit harness is not suitable.

The connection to the belay system in every case shall be checked by a competent person, as the abseiler is unable to fully inspect the connection located behind them.

The abseiling system used shall allow a rescue to be swiftly completed without requiring the abseiler to assist.

A self-belay system shall not be used for forward abseiling.

Forward abseiling activity leaders shall:

  • have experience in forward abseiling
  • competent in handling the additional complexities when completing forward abseiling.

Additional considerations for forward abseiling include but are not limited to:

  • having an appropriate learning progression for the participant
  • any pre-existing medical conditions
  • the abseil site including the length of abseil and slope
  • the equipment used, including its impact on the speed of descent
  • the pre-activity information and briefings provided.

 

Multi-pitch activities

A pre-activity check and ongoing monitoring shall be used to confirm that the activity follows and uses the correct route and belay station locations.

Participant management practices should be used to prevent overcrowding at belay stations.

Participant’s should have:

  • prior experience in the activity or the opportunity to try a single pitch of the activity, before being committed to completing a multi-pitch activity
  • the competence in using basic skills to temporarily operate out of line of sight or communication of an activity leader.

Procedures shall enable appropriate communication between groups at each belay system.

Additional pre-activity information should include but is not limited to the method of transferring from the activity belay system to a fixed anchor and back to the activity belay system.

 

Activity leader fatigue and repetition

Considerations in managing activity leader fatigue and task repetition risks should include but are not limited to:

  • group sizes and the number of groups
  • role rotation
  • suitable breaks.

 

Activity leader positioning

The activity leader should:

  • where practicable, have visual contact with the abseiler(s) and/or climber(s)
  • be positioned to affect a timely rescue if required.

 

Communications

A system of clear & unambiguous verbal and non-verbal communications shall be used to manage the activity.

Having line of sight and communication by sound should be used as the preferred means of supervising participant’s wherever possible.

 

Participants belaying

Considerations for when participants operate belay systems include but are not limited to:

  • participants are willing and capable
  • appropriate training is provided
  • the need for ongoing monitoring to ensure:
    • correct technique is used
    • attention to the task is maintained
    • equipment is used correctly
  • backup systems to support the belayer (g. backup belayer).

 

Bouldering

Safety considerations when bouldering include but are not limited to:

  • the hazards within the fall zones
  • the possibility of falling objects
  • whether the surface has holds on vertical, inclined and/or overhanging surfaces
  • the body orientations that the holds permit
  • the need for spotting
  • possible use of padding to protect from hazards in the fall zone and/or hard landings
  • the supervision required.

Spotting should be used while participants are bouldering on natural surfaces.

An appropriate helmet should be worn when bouldering and spotting on natural surfaces.

Where participants are spotting they shall be instructed and appropriately supervised.

 

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