Rated? What does it mean

What is all this talk about rated? You always asked is it rated. How many pieces of equipment do you or I have with a rating stamped on it? Who rates this stuff? Why do we need to prove this rating at competition? Their quite a few delta links, rigging rings, clevis, screw links with an advertised rating in the book but nothing actully stamped on the equipment. Shouldn't their be some law that any piece of hardware that "could" be used for someone's personal safety carry a permanant safety rating? I also caught wind that Europeans didn't have to meet our standards and ratings in the competition. How is this fair. That is an unfair advantage.

[ August 12, 2002: Message edited by: BigJon ]

[ August 12, 2002: Message edited by: BigJon ]

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Please calm down, have an ice tea, take those stinky ol' boots off an put your feet up. There...that's better

In 1992 [I think] I had the opportunity to represent the MN chapter as a judge in the ITCC in Hilton Head. I got hooked! Saw a really young Jared Arborjino flying up the rope and handling gear like a pro. This year, he's there with his Dad cheering on from the crowd. Haven't missed one since. Even though I haven't judged in the past couple of years I still go to the gear check and the debriefing on Monday. Over the years there has been an incredible effort put forth to make the ITCC a truly International event. Before this effort it was, and rightly so, called the American TCC since the International climbers had to follow our form of running a CC. One of the changes was to set up the safety and gear rules that are inforce in the chapter that the climber represents. ANSI only applies to the US. That's why there are some differences allowed. To be fair, the ITCC committee let American climbers use their Butterfly saddles even though the saddle isn't ANSI certified. By a strict interpretation of the rules the Yanks should not have been allowed to climb in that saddle.

When all we were using were stock tree climbing saddles and gear that was made from steel, we didn't need to know what the "ratings" were on gear. Now that there is a lot of gear being used that came from mountaineering and rock climbing, sailing and sky diving it gets really hard for the techs at the ITCC to know what is what. For all they know, the gear was made in someones driveway. What would happen if a piece of gear was approved and then failed during the competition? No one wants that to happen or be connected with any of the responsibility either. That said, I was at the gear check in Seattle and I was a little frustrated with how some of the issues were handled. The responsibility falls onto the shoulders of volunteers. This isn't NASCAR or the NFL where the staff is paid. Let's give a little slack and understanding to the people that take time out of their lives, without pay, to help make the ITCC a pretty wonderful event.

Today five of us got together to prune the trees for the MnTCC. During the day I talked with my good friend Gary Albig about many details of the competition and gear. The concern of using biners that are rated to 22kN came up. Since they are 50# short of 5k# by a strict interpretation, they should not be allowed. By that logic, the Butterfly should not be allowed either. BUT...since both were allowed in the ITCC we are planning on allowing both in our competition. There might be another descision made before the TCC though.

If you have an issue with an event, please be civil and polite. Let's not get into any us vrs. them talk. That's political and we don't do politics at Tree Buzz. After all, its all about the trees, not politics.

Climb cool!

Some good points made. Where do I start? What was origanally asking before got too far side tracked is. How do we prove what the rating is. As I said before there are things such as just screw links, cleviss, what ever that may have a rating in an advertisement or just a sticker that was on it new. How do we prove what this rating is? There are alot of products available to us that look the same but just not rated. I have a friend who always seems to worry about loseing the sticker on the end of his stactic line. Thinking that a lost sticker will render this rope usless for competeing. So why is that we sign a waiver before compete relieveing the TCC of responsibility if we get hurt? Does anyone get what it is that I asking?

Big John
Look little john Beddes is a friend; I hope you would stick up for your friends! I thought your post was way out of line!
As per your question all screw links and clevis must be stamped with rating if used for competition and as the rules state it is your (the climber) responsibility to show with documentation that all equipment meets standards. Also if you took all the bells and whistles away you would find that Beddes and Mark would still be in the top.

Yes we do sign a waver but if someone died in competition it would be the end and that is for sure!

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR> Does anyone get what it is that I asking? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Yes I think we do.
Any equipment manufactured in the European Union (about 240 million population & plenty of different languages)has to comply with European Directives. These are harmonised standards that all states need to comply with or face the European courts which take precedence over all National courts. The magic figure that has been agreed upon as a minimum requirement for personal protective equipment is 22kN Breaking Strength - just shy of 5000lbs Tensile. That gives an adequate safety factor (22:1) for a working load limit of 100Kg (a typical person), and 200kg in a rescue. It also helps to compensate for reduced strength due to wear.

The fact that 22kN is more like 4800lbs rather than 5000lbs only has one disadvantage to climbers that must wear an ANSI approved saddle - increased weight. That doesn't mean that a European harness is more dangerous.

In the UK and Ireland chapter, we have around 6 regional comps every year, plus others outside ISA rules and the student comp. Many competitors use American products that do not carry a European certificate of conformity (CE mark). However, they are deemed fit for purpose because they meet a National standard (ANSI)and testing procedures can be identified as suitable.

I would suggest US chapter comps adopt a similar principle, just so everyone keeps their shirt on!

It is the way the equipment is put to use that is equally important as strength - a prusik cord with 1700Kg Breaking Strength can hold a force of 2700Kg when knotted into a loop with a doublefishermans. This can hold a force of 3500Kg in a typical tree climbing system if tied as a 6 'finger' prusik! Thats new without burnout descents of course -Its all relevant.

Forget the dogma - as an international fraternity we can learn from each other by being a little more pragmatic!
I feel that part of the problem comes from seeing pictures of peoples gear such as Strassers friction saver and thinking how that stuff can be up to snuff.For me personally I am always tinkering with new ideas and am always worried that everything is up to code,not only for compotition but incase someone trys to duplicate it I know its safe.

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Glad to see the ship back on course. Good job folks.

Thanks for the insight about how our compatriates on the other side of the world look at the equipment ratings. That makes a lot of sense to me. The challenge is going to be establishing a marker for any modifications. The tie-in strap on the Butterfly is changed 95% of the time. Climbers will have to be expected to bring documentation for any cords that are used.

That's a good point Roachy, and I wish everyone was so responsible!

Todays innovations become tomorrows standards. It is difficult to maintain confidence in the safety of new equipment without stifling innovation.

It is relativley simple to explain the limitations of innovations to a handful of work associates exposed to them, providing the innovator has a thorough understanding!

If an innovator has doubts, he/she should be able to find a technical expert to put them right. It is at competitions that such innovations are seen and passed on to many people.

I feel that each chapter comp should have a trained technical expert (with a pragmatic inclination of course!)that could be called upon to OK or hold any innovations at the scrutineering stage. That way, what is seen in use could be understood to be fit for purpose. Any limitations should be advertised.

Just think how an employer feels when his guys come back to work after a comp - suddenly they're using different techniques and equipment. It looks like a good idea, but is it safe?

This brings me on to a new topic: Is the comp to remain a simulated work event, or become a sport. I am thinking along the lines of rock climbing as a sport and industrial roped access - because ropes are put to use for employees or self employed, extra protection needs to be in place. The same looks likely for tree work - more protection is probably going to be required in the future i.e. double anchors where possible. Before everyone gets too hot over that, there is another type of friction saver that allows this for suspect trees.

Any more ideas for increased safety without too much restriction?

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Even though I've never flet the need to back up any tie in crotch, I can see the possiblity of using a self equalizig anchor like
rock jocks use. Take a look at these links:
http://www.ryanojerio.20m.com/Rock2_Week8%20Anchor%20Principles.htm Really nice illustrations here!

Here is what Google gave me, if you want more referances:

There's no reason that this type of multiple anchor points couldn't be used to spread the load in a rigging situation too.

Thanks Tom!

In europe we come across many trees that have been topped over twenty years ago. I saw one of my best mates snap out a multiple attachment on a job in Austria on ten year old lime regrowth. Our regulations, and common sense in my opinion, requires that compromised anchor points be backed up. Especially some regrowth on species like Acer saccharinum. Fine in theory, but the practicalities can be a little difficult.

I also know that new directives will require this type of action where possible in the next few years. I'm just trying to be pro-active and address the situation in a practical way before tussling with legislation.


Active Member
I don't have any suggestions for equipment that'll increase speed and safety other than being a proponent for employing different rigging configurations of block and tackles.

Forces are universal. Interpreting how forces cause rigging points and rigging gear to behave should be a bigger issue than the gear being used. There is such a huge difference of the understanding of forces among arborists who use the gear, the arborists tend to get lost in what's new without understanding why the new gear is important. Where is the advantage to being uninformed?

I couldn't agree more Joe. Arborists like to buy it and try it rather than have formal training. Also, many instructors tend to show off rigging skills and equipment, sometimes to the equipment limits, without educating the trainee/ observer of their reasoning or explaining the limitations of what they did/ do. They go away thinking that a 16mm double braid can handle a 15' x 20" section being slammed into it is ok on a day to day basis!

I always give a lengthy classroom session educating on the fundamentals of forces and present concepts on how to practically deal with them, as well as the usual practical stuff. If I can get the horse to the water, it likes to drink - but getting it to the water is difficult in deed!

Some guys go to work with bucket loads of gear and don't really use it or know how to. Others turn up with a few essentials and do a safe, cost effective job. I still fly abroad to undertake climbing contracts, and must only take essential equipment - otherwise you can loose a days pay in heavy baggage!

That doesn't have to mean being unprepared.

Climbers can save a lot of money through good training. What is a must have, what is a nice to have, the verstility of techniques and equipment, and avoiding costly accidents.
I have had formal training through Arbormaster and found that they don't encourage takeing equipment to the limit. It is just opposite. We talked about cycles to failor, shock loading...... I learned alot about the physics involved but in know way did they give the impression to take huge pieces.

I love to take trees down in large pieces whenever possible. You do need to know your equipments limits and the history of that equipment. Also you need know the limits or hope you know the limits of tree.
Did I read as though I was talking about Ken & Rip?!

That wasn't the case at all- I've instructed alongside Ken on a few occassions - Hello ken! I bet you're observing from a distance.

It's good to hear people are undertaking quality taining. Most of the courses run in the UK are based on four candidates over 5 days and totally hands on. This gives many opportunities for one to one instruction!

It depends what is required by the candidate - not everyone needs to climb a tree but may want to know more; managers need to appreciate the limits of equipment and how to focus their cash, for example, or wish to audit their boys for safety standards - with all the new gear it can be confusing.

This brings us back to where we started - ratings, what they stand for and how the equipment is to be applied is fundamental to safe operations. So many people think that the rating on a karabiner is the working load limit when it is the breaking strength, unless stated otherwise. Some manufacturers are concerned that industrial users that are used to seeing working load limits, take sport equipment and overload it. ISC make steel karabiners for arborists and give it a WLL stamp to stop the confusion.

Tom, earlyer you mentioned that during gear inspection at Seattle you were passing 22kn biners. I was also at gear inspection, according to Scott 22kn did not pass, I black flagged about 6 or 8 of them. If a 22kn biner is acceptable is the 22kn fixey pulley also acceptible? It seems the authorities that be seem to change the rules as needed to keep every one happy? I have competed several times at the International level and never had a problem with my gear, the rules are very clear. I do not see how 22kn or 23kn is going to make any differance on how safe we are. I understand the level of voulonterizism involved at comps but a little more consistancy would be nice, what do you think? It would be disscuraging for a climber to find out someone elses gear passed and theirs did not.

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning

I should make it clear that I was at the gear inspection but I wasn't an "official".

You're right, there are some real inconsistencies. Sooner or later this will lead to someone filling a protest which will lead to a lot of frustration.

No simple answers. Tim made a good point about standards.

Sorry if I go a bit off-topic, but since we’re talking about gear inspection and being consistent, I’d like to add one point:
I’ve also been a judge in the Italian TCC and my main problem in checking the gear isn’t ratings at all (nobody did, but if someone presented himself with a only ANSI certified harness, we would have surely allowed it – I think that’s just goog sense), the real problem is WEAR. People show up with the most amazing used split tails, ropes, and even harnesses and carabiners. And that’s a topic in which is even harder to be consistent between judges: what’s too old for one might be still OK with another…
Last ETCC in Oslo, I commented with a climber how well XTC could handle wear and he answered “oh yes, I’ve been using mine since 1996”. I then hopefully assumed he didn’t use it very often but he replied that he used it “almost every day”.
I know as a climber that many pieces of equipment that look just fine must be retired “by decree”, only because I know their history. The problem of course, is that the judge doesn’t…