6 – Equipment and logistics
6.1 Artificial surfaces and elements – design and construction
Construction and/or operation of challenge courses MUST conform with any legislative or regulatory requirements of the relevant jurisdiction(s) the activity operates in. (For example, ‘amusement’ structure laws.)
Permanent artificial surfaces and element(s) constructed specifically for use in activities MUST comply with relevant construction standards.
The relevant standard MAY include:
- 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 3533.1-2009: Design and construction
- AS 3533.1-2009/Amdt 1-2011: Design and construction
- AS 3533.2-2009: Operation and maintenance
- AS 3533.2-2009/Amdt 1-2011: Operation and maintenance
- AS 3533.3-2003: In-service inspections]
- AS/NZS 4422:1996 Playground surfacing— Specifications, requirements and test method
- EN 795: Personal fall protection equipment – anchor devices
Permanent artificial surfaces and element(s) constructed using superseded construction standards SHOULD be reassessed for ongoing suitability for use during maintenance inspection.
Temporary artificial surfaces and/or temporary element(s) SHOULD comply with either permanent artificial surfaces relevant requirements or be assessed by a competent person that it is fit for purpose for the activity.
Design of high element(s) and challenge courses SHOULD allow for participant rescue.
Systems MUST have a ‘functional inspection’ to confirm it is appropriately constructed and operates or performs it’s required function. Refer Appendix A5 – Inspections & maintenance for additional detail.
6.2 Equipment general
6.2.1 Equipment general principles
All equipment MUST be used with reference to the manufacturers’ instructions.
Training in the use of equipment used MUST be provided to activity leaders and participants.
Before use, the compatibility between and correct functioning of all equipment MUST be confirmed.
The elements used MUST be of a height that the fall height will allow the fall safety system to operate effectively.
Operation of challenge courses MUST conform with any legislative or regulatory requirements. (For example, ‘amusement’ structure laws.)
Equipment, connection methods and systems used MUST be periodically reviewed.
Equipment used MUST be appropriate for the activity context.
Equipment listed below MUST be manufactured for use in the context of the activity:
- 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
- Static rope
- Any other equipment relied upon for safety systems.
6.2.2 Equipment loading
Equipment will have a stated strength that MAY or MAY NOT include a safety factor. The type of stated strength rating needs to be known before use to ensure equipment is safely loaded. (Refer Appendix 3 – Equipment load ratings for more details).
Equipment with the stated strength providing the Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) MUST have a suitable safety factor applied and a Safe Working Load (SWL) calculated.
Equipment with the stated strength providing the Safe Working Load (SWL) MUST be loaded only to a maximum of the Safe Working Load (SWL).
Reference to the manufacturers’ instructions MUST occur when determining a safety factor and/or safe working load.
The expected peak load and possible additional loads if a rescue be carried out MUST be considered when determining equipment loading.
There MUST be no smoking near and/or while wearing safety equipment.
6.3 Fall safety management systems
6.3.1 Fall systems
All safety equipment used in the safety management system and/or a belay system MUST be appropriate for the task.
An appropriate safety system MUST be used when at height on all high elements.
Procedures used for belay systems MUST be suitable for the equipment.
Procedures and systems used SHOULD be consistent throughout the challenge course activity session.
Any belay system or lanyard MUST be appropriate for the expected fall factor of a climber.
Also refer Leadership – Supervision of belay systems section.
6.3.2 Ropes and lanyards use
The type of rope used in a belay system MUST be appropriate for the type of high element.
Considerations for selecting when dynamic rope or static rope is suitable for a belay system should include but is not limited to:
- the expected fall distance before the belay system halts the fall
- the amount of impact loading expected on the climber
- the fall factor involved
- if the elasticity of a dynamic rope during a fall may increase the risk of injury
- the amount of slack rope likely to be in the belay system, which may increase the fall distance and therefore the impact loading on the climber and fall factor.
Safety lanyards MUST be made of a suitable material (e.g. flat webbing, tubular webbing, static or dynamic rope of suitable diameters) that has an appropriate safe working load.
The connection system used MUST always provide an appropriate safe attachment, including at changeover/transition points.
Connection methods, equipment and systems used MUST be periodically reviewed.
Considerations when determining connection methods, equipment and systems MUST include:
- the type of equipment being used
- what systems is any are required to provide redundancy
- what needs to be attached and how
- the experience and context of who is completing the connection
- the availability of a competent person to supervise or check the connection that is completed by a participant.
6.3.4 Connectors – practices relating to use
The type of connector used MUST be suitable for the task.
Connectors made from appropriate materials MUST be used when used to connect to metal cable.
Carabiners MUST be used so that no load is intentionally across the minor axis or gate.
Systems that have loads applied and release so that alignment of connectors or equipment may change, or subject to vibration SHOULD be inspected at an appropriate frequency.
The connection of the harness MUST use:
- an appropriate knot to tie in or
- two methods of connection to provide redundancy, with any carabiners used being locking carabiners or
- a ‘three way’ auto-locking carabiner where ‘clipping in’ is the soles means of attachment or
- an appropriately tied girth hitch or
- a tool locked
The connection of the belayers harness to a ‘belay device’ MUST use either a locking carabiner or auto-locking carabiner.
In situations where participants complete any connection to a harness:
- the connector or knot MUST be checked by a competent person
- and when a competent person MAY not check the connection, two methods of connection to provide redundancy MUST be used.
Belay lines & lanyards connections
The connection attaching climbers to any belay points or lines MUST use:
- an auto-locking carabiner or
- an interlocking device or
- a tool locked
Where required an appropriate harness MUST be used on all high elements.
Harnesses should be a full body harness or a combination chest and sit harness.
188.8.131.52 Full body harness & chest harnesses
Chest harnesses MUST only be used in combination with a sit harness.
Consideration of the use of a full body harness or combination chest and sit harness SHOULD occur:
- for flying foxes and giant swings
- when inversion is intended or likely
- when the security of a sit harness cannot be relied upon due to body shape of the participant
- when the security of a sit harness cannot be relied upon if the person were to experience a pre-existing health, medical or personal condition episode (g. epilepsy)
- for the very young
- length of time in harness and positioning (g. extended time periods at height)
- law or regulatory requirements.
6.3.6 Rescue equipment
Appropriate vertical rescue equipment MUST be readily accessible.
Vertical rescue equipment MAY include but is not limited to:
- ascending device(s)
- belay device(s)
- carabiners (alloy/steel)
- prusik loops
- pair of pliers or multi-grips
- rescue rope equivalent in length to greater than twice the height of the highest element or belay wire or anchor point SHOULD be accessible and available for rescue
- relevant tools for opening devices or connectors
Example equipment lists can be found in Appendix 1 – Challenge course equipment.
6.3.7 Assisted belay
Refer to sections above: falls systems, ropes and lanyards use, connectors, harnesses and rescue equipment.
6.3.8 Self-belay including continuous self-belay
Also refer to sections above: falls systems, ropes and lanyards use, connectors, harnesses and rescue equipment.
184.108.40.206 Self-belay system with two safety 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 (example 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. (Example 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).
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’. (Example 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.)
Refer Appendix 6 Safety diagrams for additional clarification.
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.
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.
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.
While progressing across an element while using a two-safety lanyard system, both lanyards of the self-belay system SHOULD be attached to the belay anchoring system.
6.3.9 Collective safety systems
Collective belay systems MUST have a ‘functional inspection’ to confirm it is appropriately constructed and operates or performs it’s required function.
Soft-fall used to protect from falls from height MUST conform to AS2316.1—2009 – Part 1—2009 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses Part 1: Fixed and mobile artificial climbing and abseiling walls.
Where soft-fall is relied upon without the use of spotting it MUST cover the whole of the expected fall zone.
Any barriers, railings or banisters to protect from a fall from height MUST confirm to relevant building code(s).
220.127.116.11 Deep Water
Any deep water “pools” used to protect from falls of height MUST conform with any required ‘pool safety’ legislative or regulatory requirements of the relevant jurisdiction(s) the activity operates in.
Deep water to protect from falls of height MUST cover the whole of the fall zone.
The depth of water used to protect from falls of height MUST be sufficient so a person who falls unprepared avoids hitting the bottom. (For example, deep enough if they fall and ‘pin drop’.)
The fall height into deep water used to protect from falls of height MUST be limited to protect a person falling from injury.
The “pool” MUST allow suitable entry and exit from the water.
The “pool” MUST have any required infrastructure to manage access (e.g. fencing and gates to prevent accidental child drownings etc.)
The water within the pool MUST be suitable for a person to swim in.
18.104.22.168 Safety netting
Nets used to protect from falls from height MUST conform to:
- BS EN 1263-1:2014 Temporary Works Equipment – Safety Nets – Part 1: Safety Requirements, Test Methods
- BS EN 1263-2:2014 Temporary Works Equipment – Safety Nets – Part 2: Safety Requirements For The Positioning Limits.
6.3.10 Participant supplied safety equipment
Where a participant supplies any personal safety equipment, this MUST comply with this AAS and be appropriate and serviceable.
A procedure regarding participant supplied safety equipment SHOULD be developed.
6.3.11 Spotting belays
Refer Supervision – Spotting low elements and adventure games
Refer Supervision – Participants belaying and spotting
6.4 Other equipment
A risk assessment MUST determine when active participant(s) are required to wear a helmet.
A risk assessment MUST determine if anyone non-actively participating is required to wear a helmet.
Considerations for wearing a helmet MUST include risks:
- of head injury from fall objects
- of strangulation by the helmet strap caused by helmet ‘entrapment’
- of head injury from striking the head during falls or swings.
When a helmet is required to be worn it MUST be an appropriate helmet for the situation.
Area(s) and activities that require a helmet to be worn MUST be identified.
A helmet SHOULD be worn while climbing on high elements.
A helmet SHOULD be considered when climbing on low elements.
Also refer to Leadership – Entanglements
Procedures MUST be in place to ensure appropriate clothing is worn.
Considerations when determining appropriate clothing include but is not limited to:
- the requirements of the element(s) being used
- sun protection
- the weather conditions.
Footwear MUST be fit for purpose.
Procedures MUST be in place to ensure appropriate footwear for the expected and foreseeable terrain is used.
Also refer to Leadership – Entanglements
6.4.3 Other personal equipment
Procedures MUST be in place to ensure a suitable drinking water supply is available.
6.5 Pre-activity equipment preparation
All equipment MUST be checked that it is serviceable before each activity or before being used.
Consideration SHOULD be given to implementing checks for damage in situations where unsupervised community access to equipment or elements could occur (e.g. public access sites, vandalism, etc).
Pre-activity course preparation
A belay system MUST be used when undertaking pre-activity setup that has a falling from height hazard.
When a belay system is used, there MUST be another person:
- aware that the belay system is in use
- monitoring the activity (g. level 2 or 3 supervision)
- who can promptly respond if there is an emergency.
6.6 Inspection and maintenance
Maintenance inspections MUST conform with any legislative or regulatory requirements.
Compliance with the AS 2316.2.1:2016 Australian Standard MAY include but is not limited to inspection, testing and maintenance requirements.
All elements and anchors used MUST be periodically inspected by an appropriately competent person, as per any relevant construction standard, designer and/or constructor recommendation(s).
Appropriate procedures MUST be in place for inspections and determining the time periods between inspections.
Considerations for how regular the assessment occurs MAY include but is not limited to:
- the characteristics of the site
- how many people use the site and how regularly
- any manufacturer’s, designer’s or constructor’s recommendations where relevant
- the equipment being used.
Any tree used as part of element(s) SHOULD be periodically inspected by an appropriately competent person such as an arborist.
Any tree located within the challenge course area that presents a fall object risk SHOULD be periodically inspected by an appropriately competent person (e.g. arborist).
All equipment MUST be inspected periodically that it is serviceable.
Inspections SHOULD include but is not limited to:
- Surrounding area and ground
- Physical structures
- Materials and fittings
- Safety equipment.
Equipment and inspection records MUST conform with any legislative or regulatory requirements.
A record of inspection MUST be maintained.
Refer Appendix 5 – Inspections & maintenance for additional detail.
An equipment record SHOULD be maintained.
Where used an equipment record SHOULD record but is not limited to the:
- item individual identifier
- date of purchase
- date of inspections
- recommended or maximum lifespan.
A retirement of equipment policy SHOULD be developed.
Considerations for a retirement of equipment policy MAY include but is not limited to:
- type of use
- frequency of use
- prevailing conditions when used
- actual deterioration, wear and tear
- years in service
- manufactures recommendations.
A system to identify equipment and elements SHOULD be used to assist reporting and recording faults or condition checks.
6.7 Storage of equipment
Activity equipment MUST be stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations or instructions.
Where no manufacturer’s recommendations exist, considerations for storage of equipment MAY include but is not limited to:
- equipment is clean and dry
- the storage is free from harmful chemicals
- the storage is free from damp conditions
- the storage is free from environmental exposure including Ultra Violet (UV) light and avoids extremes of temperature