OHS Code Explanation Guide

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

Section 817 Standards for low stretch (static) rope

Efficiency in descending, ascending and, to some extent, working in one place for any length of time, depends on the elongation characteristics of the working line. Therefore, in most cases, the working line (and normally the safety line) should be a low stretch kernmantle rope. However, in situations where the possibility of a substantial dynamic load exists e.g. when using lead-climbing techniques, a dynamic rope should be used.

For compliance purposes, the rope must bear the mark or label of a nationally accredited testing organization such as CSA, UL, SEI, etc. as evidence that the rope meets the requirements of at least one of the listed standards. Rope bearing a CE mark is considered acceptable for the purpose of this Code, as is rope bearing the UIAA label. The CE mark – Conformite Europenne – indicates that the company manufacturing the product has met the requirements of one or more European directives. A UIAA label cannot be used unless the rope already bears a CE mark.

CEN Standard EN 1891

CEN Standard EN 1891: 1998, Personal protective equipment for the prevention of falls from a height. Low stretch kernmantle ropes, applies to low stretch textile rope of kernmantle construction from 8.5 mm to 16 mm in diameter, for use by persons in rope access including all kinds of work positioning and restraint, for rescue and in caving. Low stretch kernmantle ropes are defined as Type A and Type B.

Kernmantle rope is a textile rope consisting of a core enclosed by a sheath. The core is usually the main load-bearing element and typically consists of parallel elements that have been drawn and turned together in single or multiple layers, or of braided elements. The sheath is braided or woven and protects the core from, for example, external abrasion and degradation by ultraviolet light.

Type A rope is designed for general use by persons in rope access including all kinds of work positioning and restraint, rescue and caving. Type B rope is of a lower performance than Type A rope, requiring greater care in use.

Type A rope has the following performance characteristics:

  • elongation (stretch) must not exceed 5 percent under test conditions
  • static strength without terminations – at least 22 kN
  • static strength when terminated with a knot or other method – at least 15 kN
  • fall arrest peak force must not exceed 6 kN under the test conditions.

NFPA Standard 1983

Chapter 5 of NFPA Standard 1983: 2006, Standard for Fire Service Life Safety Rope and System Components, presents requirements for life safety rope. The rope must have the following performance characteristics:

  • elongation must be at least 1 percent but not more than 10 percent at 10 percent of minimum breaking strength
  • the breaking strength of light use rope must be at least 4500 lbs-force (20 kN)
  • the breaking strength of general use rope must be at least 9000 lbs-force (40 kN)
  • light use rope must have a diameter of not less than 3/8 in. (9.5 mm) and not more than ½ in. (13 mm)
  • general use rope must have a diameter of not less than ½ in. (13 mm) and not more than 5/8 in. (16 mm)
  • fibre used in rope must have a melting point of not less than 400°F (204°C)

UIAA Standard 107

UIAA Standard 107: 2004, Mountaineering and Climbing Equipment – Low Stretch Ropes, requires that the rope meet the requirements of CEN Standard EN 1891 plus several additional requirements. These additional requirements involve colour marking of the rope sheath.