There are many regulations governing the adventure industry, from the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) which affects all businesses to the more refined and specialised Work at Height Regulations (2005) and the Load Operating and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER 1998). It is easy to get confused with all the different regulations, their meanings and how they affect you, especially in such a specialist industry as the outdoors.

In 2007 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released an amendment to the 2005 Work at Height Regulations, this amendment was designed for the outdoor and adventure industry, specifically rock climbing and caving.

The HSE took into account the advice of the Adventure Activity Licencing Authority (AALA), in association with opinions of several key experts and decided that the good practices laid out by the National Governing Body Awards (NGB’s), were sufficient to incorporate into the regulations when instructing caving, climbing and similar sports activities such as high ropes courses, and that these standards are suitable to meet the aims of the Work at Height Regulations (2005). However, this amendment does not apply when an instructor or assessor accesses the course by a different method or route than that of the clients (for purposes such as maintenance, inspections or rescues, for example).

Now, how often does your centre send a member of staff up to the top parts of its high ropes for inspection, or change the routes on a climbing wall? Under the amendment, this falls under the Work at Height Regulations (2005) and therefore must include 2 points of connection to the structure and correct fall arrest equipment, for example a Petzl ASAP when on two ropes, or a second point of attachment if moving along a wire cable. This is all specified under section 5 of the Working at Height Regulations (2005).

Although this does not necessarily mean that anyone performing these types of activities needs to be specifically trained under the Industrial Rope Trade Association scheme (IRATA), they should undergo appropriate training to ensure that correct procedures are followed.

LOLER (1998)

The Load Operating and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER 1998) applies to all equipment involved in the lifting or supporting of a load such as a person. This covers anchors, ropes and support structures.

The regulations are very simple and with no amendments for the adventure industry.

All equipment involved in the lifting and supporting of a load must have regular recorded inspection by a competent autonomous person.

Recorded inspections should take place at a minimum of every 6 months in addition to the pre-use checks carried out on every occasion by the user (which do not need to be recorded).

These regulations are as much a legal requirement as the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and should be as standard as having a PAC test done upon electrical equipment.