Aerial Guidance for Instructors
looking up at a tree
News

Published on

December 18 2019

Following an increase in incidents involving arborists falling from height when using a single rope, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have reviewed and are in the process of updating the Work at Height Regulations.

Key message:

All Learners must be attached to the tree with a minimum of 2 independently acting fall protection systems. This includes the point at which change-over procedures are undertaken where 3 systems will be necessary.

The preferred system is to use 2 climbing lines plus a lanyard ideally hosted on 2 independent anchor points. However, varying tree structures and scenarios may require alternative solutions and/or combinations as detailed below.

NB Initial Practice Climbs: Where the risks have been assessed and managed appropriately, it may be permissible for the Learner to practice their initial ascents and descents utilising 1 fall protection system to a height not exceeding 5 metres. (As per the Tree Climbing Monitoring Form)

Accepted Climbing Methods:

Belayed Climb: It is acceptable for the Learner to be belayed for the duration of their climb whilst they develop their skills, undertaking changeovers with their fall protection systems.

Independent Climb: A system of 2 climbing lines pus 1 lanyard or 1 climbing line plus 2 lanyards may be used as the Learner develops their skills. They may continue using either of these combinations whilst independent of a belay system. A minimum of 2 installed, independently acting fall protection systems must be maintained for the duration of the climb.

Changeover and Ascent to Final Load Bearing Anchor: A minimum of 2 installed, independently acting fall protection systems must be maintained whilst undertaking changeover procedures, preferably hosted on independent anchors. This includes the point at which change overs are undertaken where 3 systems are therefore required. This may be achieved using a combination of climbing line/lanyard systems where 2 installed, independently acting systems are of sufficient length to descend to the ground in a single manoeuvre.

NB: In accordance with current industry guidance, climbers must ensure that they do not climb more than 250mm above their loadbearing anchor point(s) and should not exceed 500mm of slack in their system(s).

Branch Walking – A minimum of 2 installed fall protection systems must be maintained whilst undertaking branch walking, preferably hosted on independent anchors. 2 installed, independently acting fall protecting systems should be of sufficient length to descend to the ground in a single manoeuvre.

Supplementary Anchor – Non-load bearing or load bearing supplementary anchor points may be used to maintain work position for example, during branch walking or working in the upper canopy.

Descent – During descent, 2 installed, independently acting fall protection systems, preferably hosted on independent anchors, must be utilised. 2 systems should be of sufficient length to descend to the ground in a single manoeuvre when the Learner intends to make their final descent.

Rescue – Prior to undertaking aerial rescue, the climber and casualty must comply with the above methods. Following the establishment of harness to harness attachment between the climber and casualty, the rescue can be undertaken in accordance with current industry guidance.

Ascending, Work Positioning and Descending on a Pole – A minimum of 2 installed, independently acting fall protection systems must be maintained with at least one system configured to ensure sufficient fall protection is maintained. This includes the point at which change overs are undertaken where 3 systems are therefore required. 2 systems should be of sufficient length to descend to the ground in a single manoeuvre.