CWA Releases Draft Work-At-Height Standard


Working at height.

In an effort to create safer working conditions for routesetters and others that are working at height in climbing facilities, the Climbing Wall Association has announced the release of a draft document called, CWA Work-at-Height Standard for Climbing Wall Operations.

Even though standards are commonplace in other high-access industries like construction and arboriculture, there has never been a professionally recognized set of common work practices for routesetters working in climbing gyms.

The purpose of the Work-at-Height Standard is to provide guidance to employers regarding their work-at-height program and ensure compliance with legal requirements. The standard will assist employers in identifying, evaluating and controlling the risks and hazards related to work-at-height in a climbing facility. The standard will also serve as the basis for certifying both competent and qualified climbing wall workers. The certification program will be voluntary.

The Work-at-Height Standard has been developed over the last two years in a collaborative effort by industry participants on the CWA Work-at-Height Certification Standards Committee. The committee has representatives from the U.S.A. and Canada and has sought input from leading industry experts, climbing equipment manufacturers, climbing gym owners, routesetters and other industry groups.

A Resource for Climbing Gym Operators

According to Bill Zimmermann, CEO of the CWA, this draft standard represents a great asset for the climbing wall industry. “The proposed CWA standard defines a range of equipment, access methods, and fall protection systems that can be used effectively to safeguard climbing wall workers anywhere,” he said. “Prior to the development of this standard, a business owner would need to spend days or weeks collecting the information needed to develop a comprehensive fall protection program for gym workers. The CWA standard, and the training program that supports it, now makes this task very straightforward.”

The new standard establishes an outline for a managed fall protection program for recreational climbing facilities and addresses definitions, employer duties and responsibilities, fall protection planning, equipment and rescue in a thorough and organized format. The training to accompany the standard was developed in partnership with the Petzl Technical Institute. The certification program will be delivered through a network of member program providers starting this spring.

The CWA is taking comments and feedback on the draft document. To review the draft and submit your comments on the document go to the CWA website. After the thirty-day public review and comment period is concluded, the CWA will issue an official version of the document.