BASIC MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR ZIP WIRES & HIGH ROPES COURSES
Home >> ZIP WIRES & HIGH ROPES COURSES

BASIC MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR ZIP WIRES & HIGH ROPES COURSES

All owners & operators of Zip Wire and High Ropes Courses should aspire to install and operate their courses to the following European Standard: EN 15567:2007.

INTRODUCTION

3.1 All owners & operators of Zip Wire and High Ropes Courses should aspire to install and operate their courses to the following European Standard: EN 15567:2007 (Sports and recreational facilities – Ropes courses – Part 1: Construction and safety requirements; Part 2: Operation requirements). What follows is an abridged version of these standards.

3.2 High ropes and zip wire courses involve participants engaged in activities while attached to ropes or cables more than 1.0m above ground level. A zip wire is defined as an activity system or ropes course in which the participant glides under gravity in a sloping direction. Both high ropes and zip wire courses are distinct from playground equipment in that they have restricted access and require supervision.

3.3 Such activities involve risks that should be managed by the operators. This is achieved through careful supervision, training, instruction & information. High ropes and zip wire courses should only be undertaken by those who are physically and mentally able to comply with the safety requirements specified by the operator. On the basis of a risk assessment, operators should take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety of participants, including safety devices and protocols designed to limit the risk or consequences of falls or collisions. However, it should be understood that such risks cannot be eliminated altogether.

 

GUIDES

 

3.4 It is vital that any guides or instructors involved in high ropes and zip wire courses have the right combination of training and experience to carry out the following tasks:

a) Provide participants with the information required to ensure that the equipment and elements are used correctly

b) Check that participants use the right equipment

c) Assess a participant’s self-sufficiency on a high ropes or zip wire test course

d) Ensure that the operator’s safety instructions are complied with

e) Carry out a mid-span rescue, safely bringing a participant back to the ground within 20minutes; or alert an onsite rescuer if required

f) Provide assistance to participants

g) Provide participants with First Aid, including stretcher evacuation if required

h) Ensure smooth anchor to belay changes when crossing over elements. This is one major cause for accidents.

i) Make sure that activity specific equipment is used. Eg. Do not use rafting helmets for ropes courses or rock climbing.

TRAINING

3.5 As a basic minimum, all high ropes and zip wire courses should have guides trained to the following level:

a) All guides to be trained in First Aid – basic 8 hour course, provided by a reputable organization

b) All guides to be trained in basic high ropes and / or zip wire operations – in house training, to a standard approved by the ATOAI

c) At least one guide per course, onsite every day the site is operating, to be rescue trained and assessed as capable of conducting a mid-span rescue, safely bringing a participant back to the ground within 20minutes.

d) The manager and/or senior instructor to be trained to a nationally recognized standard in rock climbing or mountaineering (e.g. Basic/Advanced Mountaineering Course, India; Mountain Leader, Single Pitch Award, UK)

e) The manager and/or senior instructor to have a minimum of 2 years’ experience as a full-time guide on a high ropes or zip wire course

f) All guides to receive pre-operations training and periodic refresher training and assessment (every 1-3 months) – all training and assessments to be documented

 

Equipment – the installation

3.6 Choice of site.The high ropes or zip wire course shall be located in an area of reasonable operating safety; it shall be possible to evacuate participants safely from any part of the course.

3.7 Materials. Materials shall be fit for purpose. Timber parts shall be designed in such a way that precipitation can drain off freely and water accumulation can be avoided. Metal parts shall be weather-proofed against atmospheric conditions.

3.8 Wire rope. Only galvanized or stainless steel wire ropes shall be used. Terminations around trees and poles shall have a closure angle less than or equal to 60 degrees. Wire rope inspections and discard criteria shall conform to ISO 4309.

3.9 Wire rope terminations and grips. All wire rope terminations shall conform to EN 13411 Parts 1-7. The number of wire grips shall depend on the nature and diameter of the wire rope and the types of wire ropes and grips used. It shall not be possible to undo critical components without a tool. Points of attachment on wire ropes may create local fatigue and shall be given special attention during inspections.

3.10 Design and manufacture. High ropes or zip wire courses shall be designed with consideration for the size and body weight of the participants. The dynamic load (generated by a falling participant) shall not exceed 6kN. Installations using self-belay systems made out of steel wire rope shall be calculated using safety factor 3.0 in relation to the ultimate load.

3.11 Support system. The support system (artificial and/or natural structure intended for installation of activity and safety systems) shall have the stability and resistance appropriate for the load calculated. In instances where the zip line course transmits loads to the existing structure (e.g. building) care shall be exercised to ensure that the existing structure can bear the loads created by the zip lines. When rocks are used as supporting structures the anchor pull out strength must be at least four times the applied load.

3.12 Activity system. The activity system (e.g. landings, platforms, descending devices, zip wires) shall be designed to accommodate the imposed loads. The safety connection between the participant and the zip wire shall be made with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Wire ropes shall have no exposed broken wire ends within the reach of the participants. If any part of the zip wire and landing area is not visible from the start point a departure regulation system shall be used. Appropriate training and equipment shall be provided if participants are required to brake actively during the descent (e.g. heavy duty gloves); a passive braking system (e.g. gravity, buffer, bungee, net) shall always be in place.

3.13 Safety system. The safety system can be collective (e.g. railings, landing mats, belay anchor) or individual (e.g. safety harness & belay to fall arrest device). When participants’ feet are more than 1.0m from the ground, a safety system shall be in place. Systems, in particular with movable trolleys, shall be designed in such a way as to reduce entrapment of body parts or clothing.

3.14 Inspection and maintenance. Before the site is inaugurated a competent body shall certify that the site is in compliance with this standard. The following shall be carried out: a visual inspection, a functional inspection, a design validation, documentation including structural analysis, date and location of inspection, result of inspection and details of any defects detected. The inspection report shall be included in the operations manual of the course. After inauguration, the equipment and its components should be inspected or maintained as follows:

a) Routine visual check and physical test of entire installation – before each opening

b) Operational inspection – in depth check of site, environment and technical components every 1-3 months

c) Periodical inspection – at least once per year by an ATOAI-approved inspection body, to include: visual inspection, functional inspection, determination of replacement state of worn parts, inspection including manufacturer’s

 

instructions for maintenance

3.15 User manual for operators.The manufacturer or installer of a zip line course shall provide a manual containing at least the following information:

a) Technical description of the facility and its individual components,

b) Use of the course & marking,

c) Manufacturers declaration, containing: the basis of static load calculations, normative references, exclusions of liability, if any.

3.16 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): All participants are required to wear PPE while engaged in high ropes and zip wire course activities. As a minimum, the PPE should include:

a) Rock climbing sit harness

b) Additional chest harness or full body harness where appropriate, e.g. when a sit harness is ill fitting around the waist

c) Two points of attachment (e.g. lanyards & screw gate karabiners) to the safety system

d) Heavy duty gloves (if required for active braking)

e) All PPE to conform to UIAA or EN / CE standards

3.17 The fitting of PPE shall be checked by a guide, trained in the inspection of PPE, prior to use. The PPE shall be inspected and controlled as follows:

a) Routine check – before participants use equipment

b) Operational inspection – full check of all PPE every 1-3 months

c) Complete check by an inspector – at least every 12 months; after an exceptional event; after the equipment has been withdrawn from use following a routine check

d) A personal protective equipment inspection register is required for each set of devices, including dates of checks, details on wear and tear, date equipment quarantined or discarded

3.18 All exceptional events affecting the equipment, the checks performed as a result of such events and the minimum annual checks shall be entered on the register.

3.19 Competence of the inspectors. An inspector of PPE is deemed to be competent if:

a) They hold a advanced national climbing certificate (e.g. mountaineering, climbing); or

b) They have completed a special course run by a competent organization that can certify that the person in question has specific skills in the equipment mentioned; or

c) They can prove that they have at least 24 months experience as a trainee inspector, supervised by a competent inspector.

 

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES

 

3.20 Safety instructions and practical assessment of participants. Before commencing an activity all participants shall be informed of the safety instructions, which should include:

a) Explanation of the high ropes / zip wire course and inherent risks

b) Explanation of the equipment (PPE) to use when required

c) Demonstration by the instructor or manipulation of the equipment by the participant

d) Explanation of the safety instructions, especially the need to be always connected to the safety system by at least one connector (when negotiating high ropes crossings) and at least two connectors (when using zip lines)

e) Explanation of any markings placed at the beginning of every course or action system

f) Identification of instructors and how and when to communicate with them; a (at any time any participant shall be within range of sight of either an instructor or an adult participant)

g) Action to be taken in event of an accident

h) All of this information shall be documented

 

3.21 The principles of the various techniques participants will have to perform during the course shall be explained. All participants shall demonstrate their understanding of these techniques by means of a practical assessment by a trained guide on a practice zip or high ropes area. All participants shall pass the test course before progressing.

3.22 Supervision – general points. During a rescue operation, a rescuer shall be despatched without any adverse effect on site supervision. Communication between participants and the guide shall be ensured. At any time any participant shall be within range of sight of either a guide or another adult participant.

3.23 Course Supervision. Supervision by trained guides is divided into 3 levels:

a) Level 1: a situation whereby a guide can physically intervene

b) Level 2: a situation whereby a guide can clearly see the participant and intervene verbally

c) Level 3: a situation whereby a guide is in a position to communicate verbally with and to provide adequate assistance to participants

 3.24 Continuous belay system &zip wire belays. A minimum of one, and preferably two, trained guides shall ensure participants are correctly attached to the safety system on high ropes or zip wire courses using a continuous belay system.

3.25 Self belay & Assisted belay. In the event of participants being required to self-belay, there shall be an adequate number of guides to ensure the following:

a) All participants to demonstrate their understanding of the activity procedures and safety instructions in a practice area under Level 1 supervision & assessment.

b) The first five elements negotiated by a participant shall be under Level 2 supervision. During this period guides shall pay particular attention to the change-overs. After this period participants shall be under Level 3 supervision by guides

c) For assisted belays, there shall be a minimum of one guide for 4 participants (at height). In such instances the belayers shall be under Level 1 supervision of the guide.

d) Children between the ages of 6 and 10 shall be under Level 2 supervision by a guide throughout the activity.

3.26 Inspection and Maintenance. The equipment or its components should be inspected or maintained as follows:

a) Routine visual check, and physical test ride of entire installation, which shall be carried out before each opening.

b) Operational inspection which should be carried out every one to three months (e.g. cleanliness, equipment ground clearances, ground surface finishes, exposed foundations, sharp edges, missing parts, excessive wear of moving parts and the structural integrity of the safety system).

c) Periodical inspection, at least once a year, by an ATOAI-approved inspection body. The following should be carried out: a visual inspection, a functional inspection, determination of replacement state of worn parts, inspections including all manufacturer’s/supplier’s instructions for maintenance. Any safety relevant defects observed shall be eliminated. Specific considerations on safety critical wire ropes shall be given to the potential effects of fatigue. For periodical inspections, an inspection report shall be drawn up, including the following:

i. Date and place of inspection,

ii. Results of the inspection indicating the defects observed,

iii. Assessment, whether there are any misgivings about further use of the facility,

iv. Information on necessary re-inspection,

v. Name, address and signature of the examiner.

 

DOCUMENTATION

3.27 The following documentation is required to be kept onsite:

a) Administrative:

i. Name and address of owner and operator

ii. Document indicating the annual inspections carried out by an inspecting body

iii. List of site personnel and their job titles

iv. Evidence of public and other liability insurance

b) Operational:

i. Log book containing the daily operation sheets (including faults observed during inspections at opening and closing, relevant events concerning safety). These need to be kept for three years.

ii. Accident report sheets

iii. Personal protective equipment inspection register and operation log

iv. Risk assessment and management plan – drawn up by the zip line course operator

v. Instructor and rescue training to be documented

vi. Manufacturer’s product manual

vii. Rescue and emergency plan

viii. Current inspection report

ix. Log book for specific equipment detailing their use, date of purchase and limit to discard

c) Information to be provided for participants and visitors:

i. Description of the activity and safety instructions

ii. Limits and restrictions for use

iii. Information relating to personal public liability insurance of the operator

RISK MITIGATION & EMERGENCIES

3.28 Risk Assessment. Each operator of a high ropes / zip wire course is required to conduct a basic risk assessment, at least once per year, according to the format approved by the ATOAI. Documentary evidence of this risk assessment should be kept onsite. The risk assessment will give rise to the Security and Emergency Plan.
3.29 Security and Emergency Plan. The security and emergency plan shall be appropriate to the surface area of the high ropes / zip wire course and the number of participants it can accommodate. It shall contain the following:

a) Names of the rescuers and the name and address of the operator

b) Means of communication

c) Emergency equipment

d) Drawings indicating the emergency paths, accesses and exits

e) Procedures for evacuation due to injury or extreme weather

f) Documentation for training in emergencies and reporting accidents

g) Every high ropes / zip wire course to have a First Aid kit and stretcher onsite