UKC

/ Can I gave away my retired equipment?

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Jamie Wakeham - on 08 Jan 2018
As a follow-up to a recent thread (https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=676912) I have a slightly different question. I'm an instructor, and I have a number of harnesses and helmets which have just gone past their ten year recommended maximum lifespan.

They've had a very gentle life - I bought them when I thought I was going to spend a lot of time working with school groups and it didn't pan out that way. They have had between 20 and 50 outdoor uses each and have been stored in a cool, dark, dry location.

Obviously I cannot use them professionally any more. Neither can I sell them. But, can I give them away? For example, I would like to give one to a competent climbing friend as a spare harness/helmet set for a novice second. If I make a very clear statement that they are past their manufacturer's recommended lifespan and the recipient must evaluate if they are still safe to use, am I still liable to be held responsible for any failure?

I fear that the answer is yes, it is my job to render them unusable as they are PPE. But I'd be interested to hear views.
planetmarshall on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

You could donate it to http://greenpeakgear.org/ . They repurpose ('upcycle') or recycle the gear so there's no safety issue.
HeMa on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I'm not an expert in British juridics... But since it owuld be the business that gives them out, you might be held responsible.

Greenpeak gear is a good option (at least it sounds like one).

Same thing would be perhaps the idea of choppin' off the footloops and donating to dog shelters etc. The "swami" belt is rather good for walking numerous dogs... or perhaps as a DIY sled harness...

No idea of the brainlids... but perhaps some local clubs might be interested (again, no idea of juristical implications).
john arran - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

This is not a sensible suggestion, but ...

Presumably you cannot be held liable for ensuing injury if the harness or helmet in question cannot be traced back to you. So if there are several people in the same boat as yourself you could pool your surplus kit and let people help themselves ;-)
olddirtydoggy - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

This one is a tricky one. I climb with a few young lads who are just getting themselves kitted up. Some of them have varied backgrounds such as fleeing Burmese warzones and making a better life for themselves here. Naturally I'm thinking your retired kit might be a lifeline to such people but naturally everybody involved in the process would be worried about the comebacks.
At the moment when the season returns, we use 2 spare harnesses which they have to keep switching between themselves as we second them all up the rope. I'm not sure if this is a solution but nobody likes to see kit wasted.
syv_k - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Are you liable to be held responsible? Morally, I would say this depends on whether you trust your competent climbing friend to take full responsibility for any second hand kit he acquires. The condition of the kit will be the same as if he was given it the day before its expiry date and had it sit in his bag for a while. Only you know the guy well enough to say if he would stand by his kit responsibilities if there was an awful accident.

Maybe the law has a different view though.
Martin W on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to syv_k:

> Only you know the guy well enough to say if he would stand by his kit responsibilities if there was an awful accident.

If said guy doesn't survive said awful accident then it could be his relatives and/or dependants who decide to come after you. How well do you know them?
DannyH001 on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

It is an interesting point that you raise. I'm an instructor myself and I have a few bits of hand me down kit from other instructors from when I first started out climbing and (dare I say it on here...) caving etc.
I think its important to state here that the 10 year guideline set out by various gear manufacturers is best stuck to to cover yourself when dealing with clients professionally, however its important to remember at the end of the day the lifespan is just rough a guideline that is put on kit in order to cover the manufacturers backsides for those people who use the kit on a regular basis and continue to use them past that date.

If as you say the kit has been stored well and has had minimal usage and you, and the person you're giving it to, believe it to be structurally sound then I'd say go ahead. This kind of charitable giving can at the end of the day be a make or break'er for new people coming into the sport who cant afford new kit but can save up for it over time
syv_k - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Martin W:
> If said guy doesn't survive said awful accident then it could be his relatives and/or dependants who decide to come after you. How well do you know them?

As I understood the original question the guy is a competent climber with his own equipment, and the out of date stuff would be for a novice to climb with him, so it would be the novice at risk and the guy in question would still be around to face the inquest.
Post edited at 12:44
maxsmith - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Martin W:

....or his life insurance providers hoping to offset the cost of the payout they are facing.
Jamie Wakeham - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I suppose a rephrase of the question might be: if I were to give a couple of harnesses to olddirtydoggy to use with his refugee friends, or I give one to someone to use as their novice spared harness, or I give it to a climbing club to use with novices, and it subsequently fails and kills someone, what happens to me?

I would like nothing more than to give them to deserving causes, and places where they can get some more use. But the question seems to be whether I can fully delegate responsibility for assessing their condition. If one did catastrophically fail, would I end up having to explain how and why my out-of-date PPE got into someone elses hands?
freelunchprovider - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Assuming you have no identifying markers on them,gradually sprinkle them around on the floor at climbing wall,crags,climbing huts etc. There's an 80% chance they will have a " this is my lucky day" finder and get back into climbing use not traceable to you. Better than binning them anyway.
olddirtydoggy - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

It has made me think about how we run the system we have now. At the moment they borrow my old, heavy cragging Petzl harness at about 12 years old and a spare my wife has from her days at an outdoor center. I'm happy that this harness will hold a fall and so will the gear. But the whole legal side of things isn't easy. What if they start leading and somebody gets hurt? If it's their own rack and kit then thats their problem but the worry when lending gear and taking people out makes you wonder if it's worth it.
I am not qualified or take any payment for taking friends out but as an instructor it's a very different game for you.
Martin Hore - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

It's a little sad that I don't think we've heard yet heard from representatives of the manufacturers on this or my previous thread, with the exception of Jim Titt. I would have thought there are some climbers working for manufacturers who read these forums - though perhaps not.

Having given this more thought I think that it would be helpful for the manufacturers to give a range of lifespans from "first use" if taking a major whipper to "x years" if stored unused in a dry dark place. They mostly do all give the "first use" warning but the current recommended lifespans seem to err on the side of caution and assume a normal rate of use. I can assess normal wear and tear myself by inspecting the kit regularly and keeping a log of falls taken, but I can't assess the chemical deterioration that takes place even if stored dry and dark and never used. I'd really find it helpful to know that. If it's 20 years or more before this reduces the strength appreciably then most of us wouldn't need to worry about that aspect. Gear that old would normally be retired long previously on the "visible wear and tear" basis. But if it's only 5 years then this is a substantial concern.

Martin
planetmarshall on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Martin Hore:

> It's a little sad that I don't think we've heard yet heard from representatives of the manufacturers on this or my previous thread, with the exception of Jim Titt. I would have thought there are some climbers working for manufacturers who read these forums - though perhaps not.

It may be a Catch 22 situation. Such people could be reluctant to give an opinion if it could be construed to be the official line from their employers, but if it isn't the official line, then their opinion is of limited value.
More_Than_a_Plod - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

The important thing to remember is that you understand your obligations under the PPE regulations. You clearly do as you mention it.
Having been involved in investigations in conjunction with the HSE i can categorically tell you that one of the first ports of call is your PPE inspection records. Where you should have noted how that peice of kit was disposed of and who by. If this was just a friend giving some personal kit to a friend for use at a crag then this isn't covered under PPE regs if you are a business or a professional instructor or guide this is.
Most manufacturers will place the limit at the period where the first signs of degradation begin to show. This is why you often get two different scales. (Stored in original packaging and after first use) indeed some Beal ropes you can stored for 5 years then have a further 10 year lifetime.
For me when this question pops up I think it down to personal responsibility. What's the likelihood for anything ever coming back to haunt me? Slim? What's the consequences of it if it does? High! It could lead to loss of life and loss of livelihood or even liberty.
Is it worth all that to save someone else a couple of hundred pounds?

Alex
springfall2008 - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Harness - personally I'd discard
Helmet - Place at the foot of a busy Crag with a sign saying "crag swag, no warranty, help yourself" and leave.
nufkin - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to More_Than_a_Plod:

> If this was just a friend giving some personal kit to a friend for use at a crag then this isn't covered under PPE regs if you are a business or a professional instructor or guide this is...What's the likelihood for anything ever coming back to haunt me? Slim? What's the consequences of it if it does? High! It could lead to loss of life and loss of livelihood or even liberty.

It seems clear that using PPE equipment past its recommended life in a professional capacity is not a good idea, but in this case it seems less so - the hypothetical equipment is to be used (as far as I understand it) by other people who only have responsibility for themselves. A 'common sense' view would seem to be that the original owner couldn't be held responsible if the later users had been made aware of the provenance and the potential risk. But maybe the laws don't allow for this and follow a more absolute line, where the owner bears full responsibility for equipment for its entire legal lifespan (and are thus responsible for making sure it can't be used once the legal lifespan is passed).
This does seem a bit wasteful; could some sort of parity be argued with out-of-date food being donated?
jimtitt - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to Martin Hore:

> It's a little sad that I don't think we've heard yet heard from representatives of the manufacturers on this or my previous thread, with the exception of Jim Titt. I would have thought there are some climbers working for manufacturers who read these forums - though perhaps not.

> Having given this more thought I think that it would be helpful for the manufacturers to give a range of lifespans from "first use" if taking a major whipper to "x years" if stored unused in a dry dark place. They mostly do all give the "first use" warning but the current recommended lifespans seem to err on the side of caution and assume a normal rate of use. I can assess normal wear and tear myself by inspecting the kit regularly and keeping a log of falls taken, but I can't assess the chemical deterioration that takes place even if stored dry and dark and never used. I'd really find it helpful to know that. If it's 20 years or more before this reduces the strength appreciably then most of us wouldn't need to worry about that aspect. Gear that old would normally be retired long previously on the "visible wear and tear" basis. But if it's only 5 years then this is a substantial concern.

> Martin

What to write will be a policy decision taken at top level in a company so no flunky is going to comment except to give the company line. The upper echelons don´ t normally visit forums for excellent reasons. If you want their view you should email the companies direct and ask for the basis for their decision.
They probably won´ t tell you though, just that it´ s their opinion

The rest of your post illustrates (unwittingly) why it is such a problem, you use phrases like "normal use" and "reduces the strength appreciably" without defining either and nor do the standards. Exactly how weak do you think is acceptable for a sling for example?
When I make a bolt I have no idea if it is going to sit on an obscure slab in Arizona and get clipped once in ten years or be the crux bolt on a soft-touch 6a in Kalymnos where climbers stand in lines to hang their weak bodies from it. The standard says I should give a judgement on the life of the bolt depending on location, rock type, temperature, humidity and God knows what else but ignores the fact I don´ t know where the bolt is going or what the conditions are like wherever it ends up.
Similarly the soft-goods manufacturers don´ t know if their products are being used by a casual weekend-warrior in N Wales where the sun shines on leap-years or get the UV battering from a complete summer season in the Alps.
More_Than_a_Plod - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to nufkin:
There was an incident certainly within the last two years where a company disposed of a load of petzl sit harnesses by just cutting the leg straps and chucking them out. Thinking nothing more until they started appearing for sale on Ebay.
I can't find the original article but here's something about it posted on Reddit. It caused a proper carfuffle in the industry as I recall with warning notices being sent out all over the shop.
Original post on here https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=640101 and then the Reddit one.
https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://amp.reddit.com/r/Mountaineering/comme...
Some bright spark decided to sew the leg straps back up!! and flog them on....
Post edited at 20:31
oldie - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Some people sell old ropes on ebay. Presumably they state clearly that they are outside the manufacturer's recommended lifespan and should not be used for climbing. If they also gave the history then it would surely be up to the buyer exactly what they did with them. The seller's friends might even buy them (at a nominal fee?) and there should be no comeback since there is "proof" they bought them with full knowledge.
However I'm possibly being naive here.
gethin_allen on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Any legal people on here know how a self prepared contract for "disposal" of this gear would stand up? I'm thinking something along the lines of "I Mr X am accepting these items for disposal as I see fit in the knowledge that they are no longer considered suitable for use in any safety or related role " signed by both parties, duplicated and exchanged.

I'd be looking at a rather empty gear cupboard if I was forced to dump everything that's older than the manufacturer recommends.
Lord_ash2000 - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

I was wondering that too, I'm no legal expert but surly if the person you give / sell your old kit to buys it in the full knowledge of its age etc then I can't see a problem. It's his kit now and if he chooses to use it knowing it's history and it fails surly it's the new owner problem as he knowingly used out of date kit?

Really thought this is all just a academic exercise, if those harnesses are as lightly used and stored as well as stated then the likely hood of any failure happening is so small as to be obsurd. You'd be more likely to die on your way to taking them all to the tip for a harness to snap under group use conditions. It would have to be so tattered and worn it would be falling to bits almost already.

Have a look on eBay, endless collections of old gear all sold on a "sold as seen" understanding. Much of our first racks and ropes came second hand and it was out to good use.
gethin_allen on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

Indeed, and if something goes wrong after a while who's to say that any damage resulting in the event it question was present when the items were handed over.
lithos on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

I was just going to post something similar, a signed waiver/contract/document with a clear statement of responsibility?
FactorXXX - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

Any legal people on here know how a self prepared contract for "disposal" of this gear would stand up? I'm thinking something along the lines of "I Mr X am accepting these items for disposal as I see fit in the knowledge that they are no longer considered suitable for use in any safety or related role " signed by both parties, duplicated and exchanged.

My understanding, is that once PPE has been formally recorded onto a system, then the system has to be carried out to its full conclusion i.e. the PPE has to be rendered unusable at the end of its official life.
If it's for personal use and not formally recorded, then it's pretty much down to user discretion.
Toccata on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

10 year lifespan? I still use a Whillans sit harness for winter. Should I retire it?
Jamie Wakeham - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Any legal people on here know how a self prepared contract for "disposal" of this gear would stand up? I'm thinking something along the lines of "I Mr X am accepting these items for disposal as I see fit in the knowledge that they are no longer considered suitable for use in any safety or related role " signed by both parties, duplicated and exchanged.
> My understanding, is that once PPE has been formally recorded onto a system, then the system has to be carried out to its full conclusion i.e. the PPE has to be rendered unusable at the end of its official life.
> If it's for personal use and not formally recorded, then it's pretty much down to user discretion.

As I have used it professionally, yes it is recorded in my PPE log.

Common sense would suggest that I could give it away with a waiver as described.  But unless someone can tell me that they *know* this would be legally watertight, I can't risk it.  It's not terribly hard to imagine a scenario where a harness I have given away later becomes unsafe for some reason, fails, kills the recipient, and their surviving family pursue me for handing on kit that 'ought' to have been destroyed.  If there is no waiver that absolutely protects me from that, then I think I have no choice but to destroy them.

I'll be keeping a couple of them, for personal use with friends, and I will have no hesitation in using them for years and years to come!

 

trouserburp - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Yeah hang onto them and maybe the law will change in 20 years and you can pass them on!


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