Questions for Operators and Owners of Climbing and Ropes Course Facilities

Answers to questions of operators of climbing halls, climbing walls, ropes courses and adventure parks.

For consulting, strategy, project, safety management and qualification, we are at your disposal.

This information is especially for operators and owners of climbing facilities or ropes courses in Germany.


Why actually this question?

In our long lasting praxis we are again and again confronted with artificial climbing facilities and the relating survey reports that point out results of test applying to the norms that actually have not been done. Facilities that in retests, because of missing test results, have shown deficits especially in live saving anchor points.  Despite of these facilities should have passed a test before the first action on it by common testing and inspection organizations or “surveyors for playgrounds”. Sometimes these facilities are only installed and confirmed by “a person that can climb”; Facilities in which the deficits where on top of the wall, so only reachable by climbing up. A new installed facility in which the welding was affected by corrosion behind the visible parts, a new facility that was not norm conform, a facility in action with breaking anchor points in the tests, though a acceptance test was done before. And time and again test and inspection surveys of safety organizations that are unable to be checked regarding facts how what has been tested and inspected, partly because of questionable backgrounds.

Artificial climbing facilities, boulder facilities and ropes courses are no play grounds and therefor underlie further norms.

So how can I discover if an inspection or survey of climbing walls, climbing facilities or ropes courses has been done properly?

An inspection or test of a climbing wall, climbing facility or of a ropes course without testers climbing into the facility is in general unreliable.
An appraisal of the status quo from afar is not possible and trying to discover potential damages with binoculars is impudent.

Knowing how to climb is not sufficient as well.

A test or inspection is done by before existing and distinguished plan systematically. This plan should be able to be described by the inspecting institution. Feel free to ask why some points are more or less important. An Institution that undertakes your facility on a serious test has an on basis of classification and pictures made individual, intern inspection plan for your facility to make a documentation of single points possible.

A reliable offer contains as job description more than the point: “inspection after DIN EN…” or “Test after DIN EN…”. It is possible to see by the points of the offer, if it is an individual offer for your facility or if someone without expertise makes an offer. If the test offer contains applied load tests it is unreliable to give the customer the weight problem. The company should have and use its own equipment. Ask for it.

A reliable company works in altitude always with minimum two persons, especially by reasons of safety.

A special attention has to be turned on the safety for customers and use of the facility. On artificial climbing facilities these are especially turning and safety points, faces and the state of the construction; in ropes courses especially position, state and functionality of the installed safety systems, changes in the construction, state of the supporting trees and masts etc.

Applied load tests are only necessary, if the facility tested for the first time, if in an inspections questions appear that can only be answered with it or if changes in the safety constructions has been done that make a new or repeated test with an applied load test necessary.

As owner or operator of the facility you should be aware of getting all necessary information of your facility. This is the basis for repairing or reconstruction work.
A reliable test survey report documents the state and the state of the operation reliability as result in words. The test documentation states every single measured result. The works are documented transparently.

It would be wrong to think that you as operator or owner in case of an accident, resulting of malicious maintenance, inspection or testing, are not liable. The commissioning alone is not automatically shifting liability. Only if the operator or owner can approve that on his side the necessary actions have been taken the testing or inspecting institution gets liable.

A reliable and clear inspection or test survey prevents bad surprises: For you as operator or owner, even if the results may contain surprises too.

For questions and further information we are at your service.

Which norms apply to artificial climbing facilities?

Despite of constructional and other norms especially the DIN EN 12572-1:2007 (artificial climbing facilities), DIN EN 12572-2:2009 (Boulder walls), DIN EN 12572-3:2009 (climbing holds).


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Does my Facility Need a Periodical Applied Load Test?

Every facility needs acceptance test. Depending to the applying norm an approval of the construction is done. For artificial climbing facilities and ropes courses applied load tests of defined positions are required. In these applied load tests first and foremost the safety devices are checked and tested.

These tests and applied load tests are only intended for the first acceptance test or in case of safety and norm relevant changes of the construction.

These tests are wrongly called “TÜV-approval” or “TÜV-survey”, TÜV can only be seen as a synonym, because usual the TÜV departments do not have the qualified personal and the required technique of knowhow for these tests. It is worth it to ask detailed questions and to check other options. We think that companies that are specialized in climbing and ropes course facilities can help you to avoid stress, retests and can help to save time and money.

In regular inspections and necessary maintenance applied load tests are not required to fulfill the norm. Corrosion and environmental affects (e.g. Changes caused by air pollution) or extreme situations can lead to a negative change of the safety-technical condition of your facility. Such changes are getting discovered and documented in the regular inspections. In these cases it may become necessary to check individual points with an applied load in periods again.

For your queries we are at your disposal.


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Does my facility need a periodical inspection?

Certainly yes! The interval of inspection and maintenance of climbing facilities, climbing walls, ropes courses and playgrounds depends on the location, the construction and the frequency of use.
Outdoor facilities are exposed to other effects of the weather the indoor ones. Many constructions are not standardized or not even optimal constructed with the consequence that specific safety neuralgic points exist, which may be checked in shorter intervals. The more a facility is in use the more wear and strain applies.

In the norms regarding artificial climbing facilities, ropes courses and playgrounds (that are not always matching each other) are no mandatory inspections but a serious advice to it. In case of doubt the courts and assurances will hold on to these advices and make their decisions on it.
The standards are divided in diverse types of inspection and maintenance, though close to praxis.
The first one is the “periodical visual inspection”, the one before using the facility. The periodical visual inspection enables to discover apparent defects and dangers.

The second is the “operative inspection”, where for example the safety and anchor points as well as constructional parts of the facility are getting checked. This inspection requires documentation.

The third is the as “main inspection” named inspection, which signifies a systematic check of the whole facility. This main inspection includes basically the whole safety devices, if required measurements, a valuation of the construction, an inspection of the back construction etc. An applied load test, which is required for the acceptance procedure, is not content of the norm but it can be recommended depending to the condition of a facility. The results of the main inspection are systematically documented. The main inspection reaffirms the Operation safety but can also lead to an inhibition of a whole or of parts of a facility.

For the records of the inspections the same standards as for acceptance procedures and surveys apply: The documentation must be distinct and comprehensible. Not only for a case of assurance, but also for you as operator for knowing what the quality of your facility is about.

For your queries we are at your disposal.


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