OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 41 Work Requiring Rope Access

Section 840 Safe work practices

Safe work practices used in non-industrial rope access work must be approved by a Director of Inspection. A Director of Inspection is a member of the staff of Alberta Human Services, appointed by the Minister under section 5 of the OHS Act.

At the time of publication of this Explanation Guide, the following publications were considered to present acceptable and appropriate safe work practices. Following the safe work practices does not mean that workers must be certified by one or more of the organizations that prepared the publications.

(a) Alberta Human Services recognizes the Technical Handbook for Professional Mountain Guides (June 1999), published by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (AMCG) as providing a set of safe work practices suitable for safeguarding workers during mountaineering and canyoning activities that involve the use of rope access techniques while climbing on snow, ice, and/or rock. The techniques and skills described in the Handbook are intended to assist guides in decision-making and provide a variety of tools by which to guide within reasonable limits of safety.

(b) Alberta Human Services recognizes the Climbing Gym Instructor Technical Manual (June 2003), published by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (AMCG) as providing a set of safe work practices suitable for safeguarding workers during rope access climbing on artificial structures such as climbing walls designed and built for the purposes of sport climbing. The Manual presents information that will help enhance the quality and safety of climbing at these facilities.

(c) Alberta Human Services recognizes the Cave Guiding Standards for British Columbia and Alberta (March 2003) published by the Canadian Cave Conservancy, and the British Columbia Cave Rescue Companion Rescue Workshop (2005) published by British Columbia Cave Rescue as providing a set of safe work practices suitable for safeguarding workers during caving activities involving rope access techniques. Jointly, these publications present clear and simple standards for workers guiding groups through caves.

Since the OHS Code concerns itself with worker safety and not safety of the client, only those portions of the referenced publications that deal with worker safe work practices are applicable.

The referenced publications present safe work practices that have been approved by a Director or Inspection as providing workers with an appropriate level of safety. Other practices may be equally acceptable but must be reviewed by a Director of Inspection and then approved in writing. The referenced publications set the benchmark against which other safe work practices will be judged for approval purposes.

This approach has the advantage of government being able to recognize the safety practices of other organizations if those practices are considered to be equivalent to or better, in terms of worker safety, to those recommended in the referenced publications. A second advantage is that the legislation need not be amended in order to include another organization’s or employer’s practices – accepting other practices becomes a policy and administrative matter.

Copies of the ACMG publications can be purchased by contacting:

The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
Box 8341
Canmore AB T1W 2V1
Phone: 403-678-2885 Fax: 403-609-0070
Email: acmg@acmg.ca

The other reference publications are available from the organizations responsible for publishing them.