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Background to the HSE decision on two rope working

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26 minutes ago, Tom D said:

There should be some proper industry consultation before something as ground breaking as this is announced. I suggest that all those who disagree with this decision write to their MP. It's easy to do and if enough people do it questions will be asked. I'll draft a letter and post it here.

But Tom it's not "ground-breaking" as some sections of the industry already employ 2 rope systems, i.e. utilities / powerlines, and it was the conclusion of research done back in 2004...but the industry, in effect, carried on regardless and the HSE didn't enforce it...until now :/ 

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21 minutes ago, Tom D said:

Then there's your rigging line too, it will be like a spiders nest. 

 

How come I don't need two points of attachment in a MEWP basket?  I believe that only one is required?

Rope management Tom!

 If you need some guidance I’ll talk you through it mate😀

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Given that the hse is now self funding, their income is from the fines they issue. And climbers will now require more training, and the AA have rolled over and surrendered. It seems this is one big money making excercise for the old boy network, based on dodgy statistics 

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22 minutes ago, Tom D said:

How come I don't need two points of attachment in a MEWP basket?  I believe that only one is required?

Generally yes...but that's a completely different situation and not really relevant to tree climbing on unknown, strength wise, anchors, and even if you accidently become detached from the lanyard you won't, or at least shouldn't, fall from the bucket.

 

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Some might argue that utility arb where they generally work on one side of the tree and not very high, has no relevance when the rest of the industry can be approaching 100ft up and in three dimensions

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To quote the article:

This will be a change that will take time to implement and filter through our varied workforce; it will add time and cost to tree climbing operations but will also demonstrate the increasing professionalism and drive to maintain compliance in our sector. There is no doubt that, as larger and more compliant contractors will be the first to adopt this approach, there will be a cost (in time, resources and money) which will add to the burden of the most compliant companies to remain competitive in our unregulated sector.

 

The last line is crucial, just a few words to sum up a massive change in the industry. I remember debating with Paul on here years ago before we joined the AAAC scheme. My beef was always that the AA didn't allow the bottom of the industry to catch up with the top. By bottom I mean the very non compliant and by top I mean the fully compliant. When those at the bottom can clearly see a path to the top, and that path doesn't look too difficult they are much more likely to start along that path. When however the path looks hard or ridiculously overburdensome they are less likely to engage. This clearly falls into the ridiculously overburdensome category in case you hadn't guessed. We have come a huge distance as an industry with virtually every cutter out there these days having NPTC quals as a minimum, (that wasn't the case when I started out). This I fear will be a huge retrograde step, after all if you're not complying with the WAH regs, which as of now 80% of the industry won't be, then why bother complying in other areas? I mean what's the point in having your kit LOLER'd if you aren't complying with WAH anyway? why bother with NPTC's? 

 

The worry is that unlike changing training compliance such as the introduction of refresher training this has a huge effect on the bottom line. As a business we can afford the £2k or so it costs to put a member of staff through another NPTC or whatever. But to introduce something that will slow our production by as much as half...... that is another question. 

 

TD TREES have always been highly productive tree surgeons, we have made our money by doing the job faster and more efficiently than competitors. Sometimes through the use of bigger or better equipment but mostly through having highly productive safe climbers.  By asking these climbers to adopt this 3 rope system we will undoubtedly slow our production, in some cases such as complex dismantles or reductions this could double the time required. Fair enough just charge double right? But then we return to the point I made earlier what about our competitors? What will they do? Do the job off one line and a side strop like they always have done and undercut our prices. Then what do we do? Abandon the AAAC scheme and go back to doing things the old way just to survive? or embrace the changes and try and persuade our clients that its worth paying 30% more because we brought an extra rope?

 

This drives a massive wedge between the compliant and non compliant. And those who want to cross the divide will find it increasingly difficult.

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34 minutes ago, AA Teccie (Paul) said:

But Tom it's not "ground-breaking" as some sections of the industry already employ 2 rope systems, i.e. utilities / powerlines, and it was the conclusion of research done back in 2004...but the industry, in effect, carried on regardless and the HSE didn't enforce it...until now :/ 

That is a closed sector though isn't it. They could insist on every climber wears a sumo suit or tea breaks every 20 minutes if they wanted, it wouldn't matter since any competitors will have to do the same. The only loser will be the client who pays for their time.

In all other markets where work is awarded on a price basis, this is going to be a huge problem. Anyone who thinks they can work off two constantly tensioned lines in an ivy covered epicormic filled lime tying in thrice to cut quicker than they could off a single line and side strop is not a proper climber.  Maybe if you're straight out of college slow, or you've only ever climbed college or arboretum trees with no ivy, epicormic or dead wood then you'll think that this change doesn't make much difference. A real production climber will know for sure that this is in fact going to make a massive difference to his or her speed.

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59 minutes ago, AA Teccie (Paul) said:

but the industry, in effect, carried on regardless and the HSE didn't enforce it...until now :/ 

Paul, on the one hand I’m sorry for highlighting such a potentially sensitive issue, particularly on a Sunday evening and that you seem to be taking all the flak singlehandedly.  Admirably by the way. 

 

On the other hand, whilst I appreciate AA is ‘as good as it gets’ in relation to sector representation (and not to be underestimated), it’s not really fair to suggest we at the operational end have some how chosen to ignore something quite so potentially significant. 

 

For myself, and I’m sure most, I’ve been playing by the rules I was trained to.  I haven’t ignored any part of that. 

 

Has AA required and observed 2 ropes per climber at AAAC validation assessments over the past decade?

 

If no, that must be as fundamentally flawed as the training that is still being delivered and which, following on from site discussions this morning, simply doesn’t cover this. 

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44 minutes ago, Tom D said:

To quote the article:

This will be a change that will take time to implement and filter through our varied workforce; it will add time and cost to tree climbing operations but will also demonstrate the increasing professionalism and drive to maintain compliance in our sector. There is no doubt that, as larger and more compliant contractors will be the first to adopt this approach, there will be a cost (in time, resources and money) which will add to the burden of the most compliant companies to remain competitive in our unregulated sector.

 

The last line is crucial, just a few words to sum up a massive change in the industry. I remember debating with Paul on here years ago before we joined the AAAC scheme. My beef was always that the AA didn't allow the bottom of the industry to catch up with the top. By bottom I mean the very non compliant and by top I mean the fully compliant. When those at the bottom can clearly see a path to the top, and that path doesn't look too difficult they are much more likely to start along that path. When however the path looks hard or ridiculously overburdensome they are less likely to engage. This clearly falls into the ridiculously overburdensome category in case you hadn't guessed. We have come a huge distance as an industry with virtually every cutter out there these days having NPTC quals as a minimum, (that wasn't the case when I started out). This I fear will be a huge retrograde step, after all if you're not complying with the WAH regs, which as of now 80% of the industry won't be, then why bother complying in other areas? I mean what's the point in having your kit LOLER'd if you aren't complying with WAH anyway? why bother with NPTC's? 

 

The worry is that unlike changing training compliance such as the introduction of refresher training this has a huge effect on the bottom line. As a business we can afford the £2k or so it costs to put a member of staff through another NPTC or whatever. But to introduce something that will slow our production by as much as half...... that is another question. 

 

TD TREES have always been highly productive tree surgeons, we have made our money by doing the job faster and more efficiently than competitors. Sometimes through the use of bigger or better equipment but mostly through having highly productive safe climbers.  By asking these climbers to adopt this 3 rope system we will undoubtedly slow our production, in some cases such as complex dismantles or reductions this could double the time required. Fair enough just charge double right? But then we return to the point I made earlier what about our competitors? What will they do? Do the job off one line and a side strop like they always have done and undercut our prices. Then what do we do? Abandon the AAAC scheme and go back to doing things the old way just to survive? or embrace the changes and try and persuade our clients that its worth paying 30% more because we brought an extra rope?

 

This drives a massive wedge between the compliant and non compliant. And those who want to cross the divide will find it increasingly difficult.

That's exactly what I plan on doing.

Kerrrchinnnng!

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I'll have read more into the definitions of work positioning and rope access, so can't comment further on that. making direct comparisons between rope access and tree work is a mistake. I think the point that has been missed when the demonstrations were taking place that in rope access work the climber almost always ties in at the start of the job and then decends (usually) to his working position. His two tie in points are chosen and affixed before he sets off and they don't get touched again until he finishes his task. In tree work a climbing on two lines will involve regularly changing lines, disconnecting and reconnecting to cross from one side of the canopy to the other. SRT will  help as friction won't be an issue but retrieving the lines might be. But for DDRT users managing two lines in a busy canopy will be a nightmare. I started out climbing on both ends of a long rope as was taught at the time, it was a massive PITA and as soon as my ability improved I ditched the second line. I can think of only a couple of occasions where I needed one since. 

 

Sadly many of the 'industry leaders' by whom I mean those who are consulted on these matters are out of touch with the realties of day to day tree work. Much of the training industry, who fall into this category, work on the same college trees every day, the bark is smooth and shiny from the constant climbing. These trees are never topped, dead wood is removed and epicormic cleared, if you climbed on 3 lines in these trees it would be relatively easy. In other trees it won't be easy, it will be slower and more difficult. The risks of felled or lowered material contacting, snagging or ripping out a  climbers line will have doubled. Yet another safety issue. 

 

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