Almost 20 years ago, I remember when performing work on our ropes courses and climbing tower meant grabbing my sport climbing harness, miscelaneous program hardware, and a generous assortment of personally-owned, “off the radar” gear for which no inspection records existed, and the only known history consisted of how well I remembered when I bought it.
Ah, those were the days!
Don’t get me wrong, the crowd I hung with were pretty meticulous with our gear. We weren’t stupid, after all. We knew the manufacturer’s lifespans of equipment, how many hard falls a rope could take, marked purchase dates on the tails of webbing, tags on harnesses. We were young. We were free!
Fast forward a couple decades, and oh how things like OSHA, ANSI Z359, and ANSI/PRCA 1.0-.3 2014 “Ropes Challenge Course Installation, Operation & Training Standards” have complicated things… or maybe they actually serve to encourage us to step it up a notch (or three!)
As a Challenge Course Manager, I require myself and/or subordinate employees to perform work at height. There are standards for that, standards that will have OSHA on your doorstep faster than [insert metaphor here] if you or your staff take a header due to lack of proper equipment, training & experience. The associated fines can be crippling, the lawsuits could shut you down. Do you really want to take that chance?
The standards don’t say you have to be certified in it, just that you’re doing it. Over the past few years, I’ve been self-educating myself in the world of industrial rope access techniques. YouTube is a great reference for building awareness of techniques, equipment, etc. Hey, don’t rule out pursuing SPRAT certification, but it is pricey, especially working for a non-profit with limited budgets. If you like FREE TRAINING, get plugged in with Over The Edge (overtheedgeusa.com). With some experience, you can work events as a ropes volunteer, under the direct supervision of SPRAT-certified technicians. It’s like free on-the-job training in industrial rope access techniques & equipment… plus they feed & give you a t-shirt. Can’t beat that!
Be safe, all!