“Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”
Ropes Course Inspections
An inspection and maintenance procedure is an essential part of ensuring that any ropes course is fit to use, and that the fatigue and decomposition of materials and equipment is detected before failure occurs.
With the rapid growth and evolution of the ropes course industry some new courses are receiving huge numbers of recreational users, and some early courses are reaching the end of the useful life, the inspection procedure is more pertinent than ever.
Standards of Inspection
Within Australia, there is currently no Australian standard relating specifically to the inspection of ropes courses. In the absence of such standards Adventure Developments, uses EN 15567 (European Standard for ropes courses) as the benchmark, and references ACCT (Association for Challenge Course Technology) Standards . If an Australian standard exits which is more relevant for a specific application then the Australian standard is adopted.
It must be acknowledged that due to population numbers the ropes course industry within Australia is smaller than the industry in Europe or the USA. As such some requirements in delivering wholly independent inspections are currently unrealistic for Australian ropes course operators.
Who can Inspect?
Many ropes courses have complex histories and may have been installed and worked on by several different companies and individuals. Often courses contain building methods which are still acceptable, but which may no longer be employed when building a new course. Inspectors must be familiar with a huge range of equipment, operations and construction methods, and be aware of the limits of their knowledge.
AS/NZS ISO/IEC 17020:2000 Specifies competence criteria for bodies performing inspections.
It also specifies independence criteria, depending largely on their level of independence from any interests in the design and installation process.
Adventure Developments is a type C inspection body.
Do you need an Inspection? What level of Inspection do you require?
The main purpose of any inspection is to assist ropes course owners / operators to fulfil their risk management responsibilities; all inspections aim to help you assess the risks inherent to operating your facility, and manage your organisations exposure to unnecessary risk.
In Australia ropes course inspections are often required by insurance providers, and accrediting bodies such as ACA (Australian Camps Association). Inspections are acknowledged by most ropes course operators as necessary for industry best practice.
EN 15567 offers good guidelines on the required levels of inspection, it specifies that the following is required.
- Inaugural inspection (shown in the table below as Structural Analysis & Validation of design).
- Routine Visual Check.
- Operational Inspection.
- Periodical Inspections (The following shall be carried out as part of this process).
- Visual inspection.
- Functional inspection.
- Determine the replacement schedule for worn components.
- Examination of the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.
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