/ Sponsored abseil - any ideas on legal requirements?

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doc_h - on 26 Feb 2013
Some members of the Senior Management Team at a school where I used to work want to do a sponsored abseil for charity, probably off the roof of one of the school buildings.

I'm guessing that for elf and safety reasons the anchor setup and abseil management has to be done by somebody with paper qualifications and that my 30 odd years of Alpine and scotish winter experience counts for nowt. (Not that I'd be happy about insurance claims against me if somebody fell anyway!)

Can anyone advise on the correct protocol for this, what quals the 'responsible person' needs and who I might speak to? The school is way down south in the fens so not many professional guides about!
Simon Wells - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to doc_h:

In theory abseiling outside is in a SPA (single pitch award) remit. However I understand the main insurers for SPA's and MIA's tend to ask for an extra premium for building abseils. The ability to place nuts and cams is not much use when working on a roof! Rigging / bat plates and the ability to estimate structural load bearing would be of more use.

A good professional with a suitable package of skills beyond the SPA / MIA, ie done this in the past would be a better choice than a super keen SPA / MIA who has done lots of releasable abseils from trees / boulders/ nut placements. Being honest, some one with Rope Access skills could do a good job provided they understood client care, problem solving with novice clients and how to fit novices into PPE.

So a hybrid Rope Access, building surveyor / SPA!

Being UKC some one will come along and shoot my message down. But as an MIA, who trains and assesses SPA, CWA & CWLA's I am acutely aware of my limited knowledge of the load bearing of 1960's flat roofs!

Best of luck and I hope you get it all sorted.

colina - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to doc_h:

health and safety ..bah humbug!
climber david - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to doc_h:

Don't really know but surely this is what IRATA rope access technicians do, or at least the anchors bit, maybe not the instructor bit though?
doc_h - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Simon Wells:
Thanks Simon, useful information.
matt.woodfield - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to doc_h: If you want to find the right person for the job then www.ami.org.uk is a good place to start.
I'd be happy to run the event for you, I've done several at schools, universities, bridges etc round the UK, but as I'm not local you'd end up paying out for travel etc, so see if there's anyone a little closer with the 'find an instructor' search, just select MIA in the check list.

Matt
The Ex-Engineer - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to doc_h: There is only two things to worry about and that is liability insurance and potentially if under-18s are going to be abseiling, Adventurous Activities Licensing.

There are options:

A - obtain insurance cover under the auspices of the School's existing policy, which depending entirely on the insurance company, may or may not require an additional premium and may or may not involve stipulations about whether qualified personnel and/or structural surveys are required. [Schools are exempt from AALA rules where the only under-18s involved are pupils.]

B - hire an individual or company with appropriate liability insurance and, if under-18 are going to abseil, an AALA license awarded by the HSE.

All AALA registered companies can be found via the HSE's search application http://www.aals.org.uk/aals/provider_search.php
The Ex-Engineer - on 26 Feb 2013
PS Just to make it clear, if you are looking for outside assistance, it will be pretty pointless contacting anyone, company or individual, who does not have an AALA license.

However, that is not to say that just because they have an AALA license for 'abseiling' they will all be capable or willing to organise such an activity. But the crucial point is that they will employ an HSE approved technical advisor (normally an MIA as a minimum) who should be more than capable of deciding if they are happy with the venue, rigging etc. or if additional expertise such as a structural survey is required.
doc_h - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
Thank you that's interesting. As far as I am aware its only going to be a few of the Senior Management team doing the abseil - and they are definitely not under 18! The students will be watching.
Andy Say - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to doc_h:

> I'm guessing that for elf and safety reasons the anchor setup and abseil management has to be done by somebody with paper qualifications and that my 30 odd years of Alpine and scotish winter experience counts for nowt. (Not that I'd be happy about insurance claims against me if somebody fell anyway!)
>


As with much of the mythology about Health and Safety I'm afraid you guess wrong! The Health and Safety Executive expect the person responsible for an activity to be 'competent'. Holding a formal qualification is one way of demonstrating competence; there are others. There is no legal requirement for any particular qualification to run an activity - AALS would endorse that.

As suggested above there are two aspects to this; the understanding and use of an artificial structure to create an effective and appropriate set of anchors for use during the activity and then putting the ropes in place and managing the abseil activity itself. It may well be that they are different skill sets and as has been suggested the ideal may be SPA/MIA and IRATA in terms of formal qualifications. Your '30 odd years of Alpine and scotish winter experience counts for nowt' possibly in a court of law unless you could demonstrate how that experience made you competent to run this particular activity. And that could be tricky.
Andy Say - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to doc_h) There is only two things to worry about and that is liability insurance and potentially if under-18s are going to be abseiling, Adventurous Activities Licensing.
>


Damaging somebody might be a third thing to put on that list :-)
doc_h - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Andy Say:
Many thanks to all who have replied.
I certainly have something to go on now and appreciate the twin issues involved.

I won't manage any of it myself as I don't want to be responsible if a brick pulls away from the anchor or something but with all this information I should now be able to point the school in the right direction to get the job done. Then I can simply watch and laugh with the students!
Thanks again

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