A1 Appendix 1 – Challenge course equipment

The equipment required and the appropriate “type” of equipment used is dependent on the specific context of the activity.

Equipment used for challenge courses MAY include but is not limited to:

A1.1 High elements specific equipment

  • Accessory cord
  • Artificial fixed anchors used in elements
  • Ascending devices
  • Belay devices
  • Cables, wires and other fixed ropes
  • Carabiners or other connectors
  • Descending devices
  • Dynamic rope
  • Harnesses
  • Helmets
  • Lanyards
  • Pulleys
  • Shear reduction devices
  • Slings
  • Static rope

Rescue equipment MAY include but is not limited to:

  • Additional rope
  • Pulleys
  • Ascenders
  • Prusik loops
  • Slings
  • Climbing cord
  • Carabiners
  • Cowstails or claws
  • Belay device
  • Knife suitable for cutting ropes (preferably on a lanyard)
  • pliers or multi-grips

A1.2 Low elements specific equipment

Specific equipment for climbing MAY include but is not limited to:

  • Crash pads or padding

A1.3 General equipment

General equipment used for challenge courses MAY include but is not limited to:

Emergency/rescue

  • Documentation (see Core Good Practice Guide – activity leader required documentation)
  • Emergency communication equipment (see Core Good Practice Guide – emergency communication)
  • First aid kit in waterproof storage (see Core Good Practice Guide – first aid equipment and medication)
  • A waterproof method of storing and carrying documentation and communications equipment
  • Specific activity context equipment required (see list above)
  • Emergency shelter where appropriate for the context
  • Emergency equipment to keep a patient warm (e.g. mat, sleeping bag) where appropriate for the context

Activity Leaders

  • communications equipment (standard communication rather than emergency communication where this differs) and spare batteries or backup “power banks”
  • pen/pencil and blank writing paper
  • watch or equipment suitable to tell and measure time for first aid purposes
  • head torch and spare batteries
  • gloves
  • same as for participant

Participant

  • personal medications (including for asthma and anaphylaxis)
  • personal hygiene requirements
  • clothing appropriate to the weather conditions
  • sun hat
  • sunglasses
  • spare prescription glasses
  • sunscreen
  • gloves

Group

  • backpack to carry equipment
  • trowel for toileting
  • toilet paper
  • hand sanitiser
  • water purification ‘system’
  • repair kit
  • food for duration plus spare
  • rubbish bags
  • multi-tool with knife
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellent
  • Refer Core Good Practice Guide for first aid kit common content.

 

 

A2 Appendix 2 – Equipment related standards

Challenge courses:

  • AS 2316.2.1:2016 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses Part 2.1: Flying foxes and challenge ropes courses—Construction and safety requirements (EN 15567-1:2007, MOD)
  • AS 2316.2.2:2016 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses Flying foxes and challenge ropes courses – Operation requirements (EN 15567-2:2007, MOD)

Fixed and mobile artificial climbing and abseiling walls:

  • 1—2009 – Part 1—2009 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses Part 1: Fixed and mobile artificial climbing and abseiling walls.

Equipment and the relevant standards:

  • Accessory cord (EN 564)
  • Braking devices (EN 15151-1, EN 15151-2)
  • Carabiners or other connectors (EN 362, EN 12275, AS/NZS 1891.4 or ISO 10333-5)
  • Chocks (EN 12270)
  • Crash pads/padding (AS2316.1—2009 – Part 1, UIAA 161-3)
  • Descending devices (EN 341)
  • Energy absorbing systems EN 958
  • Frictional anchors EN 12276
  • Helmets (EN 12492)
  • Harnesses (EN 358, EN 361, EN 813, EN 12277, AS/NZS 1891.4 or equivalent)
  • Lanyards (EN 354)
  • Rock anchors (EN 959)
  • Rope clamps EN 567
  • Rope – dynamic (EN 892)
  • Rope – static (EN 1891, AS 4142.3, CI 1801)
  • Personal fall protection equipment – anchor devices (EN 795)
  • Pitons (EN 569)
  • Pulleys (EN 12278)
  • Slings (EN 566, AS 1353 (series) or AS/NZS 1891.4)

List of relevant standards

AS/NZS

  • 1353 Flat synthetic-webbing slings Product specification
  • 1891 Industrial fall-arrest systems and devices
  • 4 Part 4: Selection, use and maintenance
  • 1—2009 – Part 1—2009 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses Part 1: Fixed and mobile artificial climbing and abseiling walls.
  • AS 2316.2.1:2016 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses Part 2.1: Flying foxes and challenge ropes courses—Construction and safety requirements (EN 15567-1:2007, MOD)
  • 2512 Methods of testing protective helmets 1 Part 1: Definitions and headforms

CI

  • 1801 Low Stretch And Static Kernmantle Life Safety Rope

EN

  • 341 Personal protective equipment against falls from a height—Descender devices
  • 354 Personal protective equipment against falls from a height—Lanyards
  • 358 Personal protective equipment for work positioning and prevention of falls from a height—Belts for work positioning and restraint and work positioning lanyards
  • 361 Personal protective equipment against falls from a height—Full body harnesses
  • 362 Personal protective equipment against falls from a height—Connectors
  • 564 Mountaineering equipment—Accessory cord—Safety requirements and test methods
  • 566 Mountaineering equipment—Slings—Safety requirements and test methods
  • 567 Mountaineering equipment—Rope clamps—Safety requirements and test methods
  • 569 Mountaineering equipment. Pitons. Safety requirements and test methods
  • 795 Personal fall protection equipment. Anchor devices
  • 813 Personal fall protection equipment—Sit harnesses
  • 892 Mountaineering equipment—Dynamic mountaineering ropes—Safety requirements and test methods
  • 958 Mountaineering equipment. Energy absorbing systems for use in klettersteig (via ferrata) climbing. Safety requirements and test methods
  • 959 Mountaineering equipment. Rock anchors. Safety requirements and test methods
  • 12270 Mountaineering equipment. Chocks. Safety requirements and test methods
  • 12275 Mountaineering equipment—Connectors—Safety requirements and test methods
  • 12276 Mountaineering equipment. Frictional anchors. Safety requirements and test methods
  • 12277 Mountaineering equipment—Harnesses—Safety requirements and test methods
  • 12278 Mountaineering equipment—Pulleys—Safety requirements and test methods
  • 12492 Mountaineering Equipment – Helmets For Mountaineers – Safety Requirements And Test Methods
  • 15151-1 Mountaineering equipment. Braking devices. Braking devices with manually assisted locking, safety requirements and test methods
  • 15151-2 Mountaineering equipment. Braking devices. Manual braking devices, safety requirements and test methods
  • 1891 Personal protective equipment for the prevention of falls from a height—Low stretch kernmantel ropes

ISO

  • 10333 Personal fall-arrest systems
  • 10333-5 Part 5: Connectors with self-closing and self-locking gates

UIAA

  • 161-3 Crash Pads

 

 

A3 Appendix 3 – Equipment load ratings

Proper understanding and use of equipment load ratings (stated strength) is needed to allow for an appropriate safety margins (safety factors) to be used. This ensures that equipment is never loaded to a point it is in danger of breaking or being damaged.

Manufacturers provide details of the load ratings for equipment either stamped on the equipment or in available documentation. This is called the Stated Strength. Stated Strength is the magnitude of load that is either the Safe Working Load (SWL) or Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS).

It is critical to understand the difference between Safe Working Load (SWL) and Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) because SWL has a safety factor already applied to it, while MBS does not.

Safe Working Load (SWL): is the magnitude of load that does not permanently distort, weaken, damaged or break equipment. It is safe to load equipment to 100% of the SWL.

Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS): is the magnitude of a load that may permanently distort or damage a piece of equipment but not cause it to break. An appropriate safety factor needs to be applied to the MBS. The MBS is a load, determined by the manufacture, that might not break a piece of equipment but may make it unusable or unsafe to use. Equipment should never be loaded to the MBS, even for testing purposes when testing a system before being use, the test should not exceed the SWL. Some equipment may be in danger of being overloaded even at less than half the MBS. It should be noted that the stated MBS value is calculated from tests on a selection of items, not on each individual item. It is therefore likely that a small percentage of similar items, (usually less than 1%) will break slightly below their stated MBS value.

Safety Factor: The ratio between the Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) and Safe Working Load (SWL) which is used to provide a safety margin. It is expressed as a ratio for example 8:1. An appropriate Safety Factor is chosen based on the type of equipment and intended use. The safety factor applicable may be specified in relevant standards or manufactures instructions. It is recommended to follow known safe practices, manufacturers recommendations, relevant standards or calculated assessments when determining safety factors.

A3.1 Examples

A3.1.1 Rope

Recreational ‘climbing/abseiling’ rope may have the Stated Strength provided as a Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS). In use, it requires a suitable Safety Factor to be selected and applied to the MBS to calculate appropriate SWL.

Static rope:

  • Stated strength: 30kN MBS
  • Safety Factor: say 8:1
  • Safe Working Load (SWL): 3.75kN (30 divided by 8 = 3.75)

Flat lifting sling:

A flat lifting sling may have the Stated Strength provided as a Safe Working Load (SWL). In use, it can be loaded to 100% of the SWL.

  • Stated strength: 2,000 kg SWL
  • Safety Factor: may or may not be provided by manufacturer
  • Safe Working Load (SWL): 2,000 kg (No calculation required as Stated Strength given as SWL)

The Australian Standard AS1353 states that a 2,000 kg SWL flat lifting sling should have a 8:1 safety factor.  If this is the case, then the MBS is 16,000 kg (2,000 times 8 = 16,000).

A3.1.2 Connectors

Recreational ‘climbing/abseiling’ connectors may have the Stated Strength provided as a Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS). In use, it requires a suitable Safety Factor to be selected and applied to the MBS to calculate appropriate SWL.

In-line loaded carabiner:

  • Stated strength: 24kN MBS
  • Safety Factor: say 4:1
  • Safe Working Load (SWL): 6kN (24 divided by 4 = 6)

All equipment needs to have its Safe Working Load (SWL) estimated using an appropriate safety factor for the context it is being used. They are not to be loaded above their SWL.

 

 

Case example

On the 4th of May 2014, in Rhode Island USA, a 45kN carabiner was overloaded and failed with a 6.8kN three-way load, causing 8 circus performers to fall 10m. The subsequent investigation showed that similar carabiners, in new condition, also failed when similarly loaded but easily held 50kN when in-line loaded.

A3.2 Kilonewtons (kN) of force vs kilograms (kg) of load (mass)

Newtons, (abbreviated to N) are the metric units of force. A 102kg object applies, approximately, 1,000 N, (1kN) downward force at the surface of the earth, (due to its mass and gravity). One Kilonewton (1 kN) is 1,000 N.

In a simple vertical loading situation, it is generally accurate enough to convert a load mass of 100 kg to a force of 1kN. Forces can exist in any direction, not just up and down. Force is calculated by multiplying mass by acceleration. Gravity at earth’s surface produces approximately 10m/s2 of acceleration, (the exact valve varies and is slightly less).

Therefore, equipment rated 1 kN of force equals equipment rated approximately 100kg of load (1,000N divided by 10 = 100kg of load). So 1kN of force = approximately 100kg of load. Note that peak loads can vary and allowance for these should be made.

A3.2.1 Examples:

SWL 3.75kN force equals approximately 375kg static load

  • Calculation: 3.75 times 1,000 = 3,750N with 3,750N divided by 10 = 375 or
  • Calculation: 3.75 times 100 = 375

SWL 2,000kg static load equals approximately 20kN force

  • Calculation: 2,000kg times 10 = 20,000N with 20,000N divided by 1,000 = 20 or
  • Calculation: 2,000kg divided by 100 = 20

 

 

A4 Appendix 4 – Fall factor

Fall factor: is the ratio of the height of a fall (h) (measured before the rope or lanyard begins to stretch) and the rope or lanyard length available to absorb the energy of the fall (L). It is used as a representation of the severity of a fall when arrested by a belay system. It is calculated by (h) divided by (L).

DRAFT Fall factor diagram

 

 

A5 Appendix 5 – Inspections and maintenance

Also refer section 6.6 Equipment – Inspections & maintenance.

An ongoing inspection and maintenance procedure is essential for ensuring the integrity of the ropes course structure and associated equipment.

There are various types of inspections:

  • Inaugural
  • Ongoing:
    • Routine visual
    • Operational
    • Periodical

A5.1 Inaugural inspection

An inaugural inspection MUST be completed before a newly built course is put into service. It only needs to be completed once.

The inaugural inspection MUST be conducted by a suitably competent ropes course inspector. A thorough understanding of how the equipment will be used is required. It is very important that the inspector be independent from the manufacturer and owner of the new course.

The purpose of the inaugural inspection is to check that the:

  • design is functional
  • design calculations, tree reports and weld inspections exist
  • course has been constructed as per the design
  • manufactures instructions exit for usage, inspections and maintenance requirements.

Manufacturers of ropes courses need to specify the frequency of ongoing inspections, and any special inspection or maintenance requirements.

A5.2 Ongoing inspections

There are four layers of ongoing inspections. The purpose of each is to ensure that the structure is safe, and that damage to and degradation of materials is detected before failure.

1 – Routine visual check

The routine visual check MUST be completed by a competent person before each use of the course.

Daily inspection is usually done by a well trained instructor.

The inspection looks to confirm:

  • there is no obvious damage
  • site is safe
  • the integrity of the safety systems.

2 – Operational inspection

The operational inspection SHOULD be completed by a competent person at least quarterly, or as per the manufacturers advised requirements.

It SHOULD include:

  • all of the routine visual checks
  • a more detailed closer inspection to confirm no] damage or degradation. (Examples MAY include but is not limited to loose bolts, damaged or rotten timber, tightness of ropes/elements, damaged/worn wire rope etc.).

3 – Periodical inspection

The periodical inspection SHOULD be completed by an independent competent person annually or as per the manufacturers advised requirements. The time between periodical inspection SHOULD be no more than 15 month between inspections.

It SHOULD include:

  • Routine visual check
  • Operational inspection
  • Assessment of worn components
  • And where the inspector deems necessary:
    • dismantling of parts,
    • excavation to reveal condition of items underground and/or
    • routine proof testing.

4 – Tree inspections

If the ropes course is built in trees, the trees SHOULD be inspected, by a competent person annually or as per the manufacturers advised requirements.

Inspection of trees SHOULD also be considered if the course is built among or beneath trees.

The time between periodical inspection SHOULD be no more than 15 month between inspections.

Expert arboriculturists SHOULD be used to verify that the trees are in good health and fit for purpose. Arboriculturists are usually not required to be experts in the forces imposed on the trees by the ropes course.

Inspection reports

All reports SHOULD be retained.

A5.3 Maintenance

Maintenance is typically defined as “like for like replacement of worn out parts”.

Maintenance is usually performed by a suitably competent person specialised in building ropes courses.

Modifications

A modification occurs if maintenance changes the functional operation of the ropes course, or the loads imposed on the course. A modification usually requires a new inaugural inspection.

Examples of modification MAY include but is not limited to:

  • adjusting the sag in a zip line so that it runs faster or slower
  • re-locating an element to make its span longer.

 

 

A6 Appendix 6 – Safety diagrams for two lanyard self-belay systems

Also refer Equipment – Self-belay systems with two safety lanyards

Also refer Equipment Section for detail of other requirements relating to lanyards.

A6.1 Diagram – Unequal lengths or gap between lanyards

Self-belay systems with two safety lanyards MUST be designed to minimise possible user entrapment pressure on the neck and/or head and eliminate possible strangulation by:

  • either having unequal lanyard lengths so in the event of a fall, one lanyard is loaded and the second lanyard remains loose even if both are attached to the belay anchoring system OR having sufficient gap between the two lanyards (examples a) both lanyards are held apart by a ‘rigid spreader’ or b) the lanyards are attached to separate attachment points on the harness) so even if both are loaded, entrapment between the lanyards does not occur
  • each separate lanyard is constructed so it forms a ‘single piece’ of material that does not form a loop that creates an entrapment hazard. (Examples a) interlocking device lanyards are appropriately sheathed to prevent individual components creating a ‘loop entrapment hazard’, while b) a lanyard created from material (e.g. webbing) tied into a loop would create a ‘loop entrapment hazard’ must not be used).

While progressing across an element while using a two lanyard self-belay system, both lanyards of the self-belay system SHOULD be attached to the belay anchoring system.

A6.1.1 Unequal length lanyards

Common practice is to leave both lanyards attached to critical line (i.e. anchor point) during progress across an element

Where unequal length lanyards are used in the event of a fall, only one lanyard is loaded with the second lanyard MUST remaining loose

DRAFT diagram 1

 

Diagram 1 – Lanyards to be of unequal length (as shown in diagram 1-A).

The effective minimum difference in length between the two unequal lanyards, taking into account the connectors being used MUST be sufficient to alleviate the risk of entrapment.

A6.1.2 Sufficient gap between lanyards

Where two unequal length lanyards are not used, the minimum ‘rigid spreader’ or gap distance between the lanyards harness attachment points MUST be sufficient to alleviate the risk of entrapment.

  • There MUST be sufficient gap between the two lanyards when loaded to avoid possible entrapment

Self-belay systems with two safety lanyards should be designed to minimise possible user entrapment pressure on the neck and/or head and eliminate possible strangulation by:

  • having the point at which both lanyards join together or are separated by a ‘rigid spreader’, located at a distance when under load, it sits below the height of the climbers neck, so in the event of a fall, the weight of the climber is supported by their harness and the climber cannot be trapped by the neck in the join or by the ‘rigid spreader’. (Examples a) the join or spreader forms a “Y” at the climbers belly/chest level due to the short length between harness attachment and where the “Y” occurs, b) the join or spreader forms a “Y” located at the climber’s face level or higher, so in a fall the Y could trap the climbers neck and the climbers weight take by the neck rather than the harness and should be avoided.)

DRAFT diagram 2

Diagram 2 – The minimum ‘spreader’ or gap distance between the lanyards MUST be sufficient to alleviate the risk of entrapment. Where lanyards join and form a “Y”, when under load this should be at a point lower than the climber’s neck (as in diagram 2 example A).

Any ‘rigid spreader’ used for alleviating the risk of entrapment MUST be:

  • of an appropriate design and material to operate as intended AND
  • have a safe working load suitable for the task.

A6.2 Diagram – Single piece or sheathed lanyards

Self-belay systems with two safety lanyards MUST be designed to avoid user entrapment pressure on the neck and/or head by each separate lanyard is constructed so it forms a ‘single piece’ of material that does not form a loop that creates an entrapment hazard.

Each lanyard MUST be a ‘single piece’ OR appropriately sheathed:

DRAFT diagram 3

Diagram 3 – Each lanyard to be made so are a “single piece” of material (shown in diagram 3-A)  that do not form “loops” that can entrap (shown in diagram 3–B).

Example shown in diagram 3-A:

  • a lanyard CAN be created from a single length of material (e.g. webbing), where:
    • A) each end of the material is appropriately knotted to attach the connectors which then allows each lanyard to be attach to the safety systems and the harness independently. (Note that the unequal length or sufficient gap requirements above MUST be meet.)
    • B) each end of the material is appropriately knotted to attach the connectors that allow each lanyard to attach to the safety systems, while the middle of the material is appropriately knotted to enable connection to the harness. (Note that the unequal length or sufficient gap requirements above MUST be meet.)

Example shown in diagram 3-B:

  • a lanyard created from material (e.g. webbing) tied into a loop MUST NOT be used as it would create a ‘loop entrapment hazard

Multiple “strands” need to be appropriately sheathed (e.g. interlocking device lanyards appropriately sheathed to prevent individual components creating a ‘loop entrapment hazard’).

 

 

A7 Appendix 7 – Challenge course supervision plans

Also refer to the Leadership – Supervision plans section 7.4.1

The following information provides an indication as what MAY be included in a challenge course supervision plan.

A7.1 – Course diagram for visual reference

A course diagram or map provides a visual reference aid.

The diagram SHOULD include:

  • a map – a visual representation that maps the site, course elements and other important locations. (While not necessarily drawn to an exact scale, it should appropriately reflect the relative proportions & distances, so it is not misleading regarding scale or location)
  • element identification – an individual identification for each separate element and if needed a key matching the element type/name to the element identification on the diagram
  • designated area(s) – location of any designated area(s) (e.g. activity leader supervision locations, restricted areas, helmet use areas)
  • emergency plan locations – areas related to emergency plan (e.g. rescue equipment locations, first aid kit locations, emergency communication locations, evacuation routes & exits, emergency mustering points).

A7.2 – Supervision and use

Information recorded in the plan for each individual element SHOULD include:

  • A summary of the risks identified in the risk assessment
  • Supervision requirements for the element(s) including:
    • the level of supervision needed (e.g. level 1, 2 or 3)
    • the number of active participants an activity leader can supervise at one time (e.g. supervision ratio, maximum number of active participants)
  • Obstructions and/or conditions that may impact line of sight supervision and procedures to address them
  • Any variation in supervision required depending on participant considerations
  • Any variation in supervision required depending on equipment considerations (e.g. if different connector types are use like individual screw gate carabiners vs an interlocking device)
  • Relevant manufactures specifications or requirements including but not limited to:
    • maximum number of climbers on the element at one time
    • recommended supervision
    • reference to any provided standard operating procedure(s)
  • Any standard operating procedure(s) (SOP) required to use the element – either by including the SOP as an appendix or referencing to where the SOP can be found
  • Any special competencies required by an activity leader to supervise the element
  • Any training, induction or confirmation of competence required before activity leaders supervise the element
  • Activity leader roles and/or specific individuals authorised to:
    • conduct training, induction in use of an element
    • supervise the element.

Information recorded in the plan for when multiple elements are in use at the same time SHOULD include:

  • Supervision requirements for the various elements when used at the same time
  • Where necessary specific location(s) to operate supervision from
  • Any standard operating procedures:
    • For example, any limitations as to the use of various elements (e.g. due to lack of line of sight some elements cannot be used in certain situations)
    • Sequencing and progression through the elements
  • Any relevant manufacture specifications or requirements (see above)
  • Any activity leader requirements (see above)

Obstructions and/or conditions that may impact supervision visibility MAY include but is not limited to:

  • Trees and branches
  • Structures and equipment
  • Sun locations at certain times
  • Low light levels
  • Weather events (e.g. rain, fog, overcast etc.)

A7.3 – Activity leader roles and competencies

The activity leader roles and competencies section in the plan SHOULD include:

  • What the competencies required are for each role
  • The responsibilities of each role
  • Any limitations place on a role (e.g. if able to operate/supervise an element or if they require any supervision while undertaking the role)
  • Requirements for confirm someone is competent to undertake a role.

A7.4 – Communications plan

Information in the communications plan SHOULD include:

  • Any pre-activity information that needs to be supplied
  • Any information that is required during the activity
  • Communication standard operating procedures between activity leaders to maintain the required level of supervision.

A7.5 – Emergency response plan

The emergency response plan SHOULD be included or if separate, referencing to where it can be found.

 

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