OHS Code Explanation Guide

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

Section 837 Ascenders

An ascender is a rope adjustment device which, when attached to an anchor line of appropriate type and diameter, locks under load in one direction and slides freely in the opposite direction. Ascenders are normally used to ascend the working line or position the worker on the working line.

Ascenders used in industrial rope access systems must be approved to one or more of the listed standards. Compliance with these standards reduces the likelihood that an ascender will accidentally detach from the line/rope and limits the risk of damage to the line/rope when in use.

Typically there are two types of ascenders used in a rope access system. The first is used to connect the worker directly to the working line; the other type is attached to a foot loop to aid climbing, and is also connected back to the harness to provide additional security. Ascenders should be of a type that cannot be accidentally detached from the line and should be chosen so that the risk of damage to the line is minimized during use. Any dynamic loading should be avoided, as damage could result to either the ascender or the line.

For compliance purposes, the ascender must bear the mark or label of a nationally accredited testing organization such as CSA, UL, SEI, etc. as evidence that the ascender meets the requirements of at least one of the listed standards. An ascender bearing a CE mark is considered acceptable for the purposes of this Code, as is an ascender 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 ascender already bears a CE mark.

CEN Standard EN 567

CEN Standard EN 567: 1997, Mountaineering equipment – Rope clamps – Safety requirements and test methods, specifies safety requirements and test methods for rope clamps for use in mountaineering, including climbing. A rope clamp is a mechanical device which, when attached to a rope or an accessory cord of appropriate diameter, locks under load in one direction and slips freely in the opposite direction.

UIAA Standard 126

UIAA Standard 126: 2004, Mountaineering and Climbing Equipment – Rope Clamps, requires that the ascender meet all the requirements of CEN Standard EN 567 plus an additional safety requirement that applies to rope clamps used for self-belaying.

NFPA Standard 1983

Chapter 5 of NFPA Standard 1983: 2006, Standard on Fire Service Life Safety Rope, Harness, and Hardware, specifies design, labelling and performance requirements for ascent devices. Ascent devices must withstand a tensile test of not less than 1200 lbs-force without failure when tested in manner of function.