Standards for High Ropes and Adventure Constructions – how to ensure they are applicable and applied!

There are several standards which can be applied to Adventure Constructions. If you are not a construction company, or haven’t had the time to read through all of them, it’s hard to know what applies to what! We have set out below some precis to the currently most used standards in the UK. These precis are intended to be quick reference/overview and nothing more.

Applicable and applied is also difficult, as anyone can say that their construction complies to a standard in a very convincing way. That does not mean that it actually does!

The most relevant document is EN 15567 Parts 1 and 2 – see precis below.

EN 15567 – Part 1

Full Title: EN 15567 Sports and recreational facilities – ropes courses – Part 1: Construction and safety requirements

No of Pages: 27

Description: The latest standard for ropes courses, both mobile and fixed. Still provisional – due to be available June 2008. (source BSI) Full of references, nomenclature, standards for materials, design requirements, safety requirements, descriptions of systems with guidelines for testing/verification and handover procedures/documentation.

Points of Interest:

  • Belay systems should be tested to 6 kN (611 kgs) without deformation with a safety factor of 3,0
  • Contains a very comprehensive list of procedures that construction companies must adhere to before handover
  • Contains a very comprehensive list of paperwork that construction companies must present to the customer
  • Contains a very comprehensive list of all markings that must be placed on the course
  • In order to comply – at present – the course must be inspected by a Class A type inspector. This means someone who is fully independent, who does not build or maintain ropes courses. ERCA is looking to provide this accreditation and is working on the standards currently

EN 15567 – Part 2

Full Title: EN 15567 Sports and recreational facilities – ropes courses – Part 2: Operation requirements.

Description: The latest standard for ropes courses, both mobile and fixed.

AAIAC – Adventurous Activities Industry Advisory Committee –  have written a guide to help with understanding of 15577  – The UK Ropes Course Guide – currently issue 4.

The AAIAC document, as well as the EN, tells us that new constructions need to conform with EN 15567 and the cornerstone of EN 15567 is an inaugural inspection by an independent  Type A inspector.

(Type A,B or C inspectors are classified by EN 17020 which is about inspection procedures not what is being inspected!  A Type A is a fully independent inspector who only inspects things – in this case high ropes installations – and has nothing to do with construction or maintenance – and must be insured for this work.)


EN 12572

Full title: BS EN 12575: 1999 Artificial climbing structures – Protection points, stability requirements and test methods

No of Pages: 11

Description: A short and easy to understand standard it lays outs, with the aid of diagrams and calculations, the design and test requirements to apply to an ACS (Artificial Climbing Structure)

Points of Interest

  • This standard is primarily for climbing walls
  • The structure itself should be designed to be stable – meaning that it’s no use having bomber anchors if the ACS is likely to fall over! So if you have a climbing tower you should have the engineers calculations which show that it conforms to the standard? Although this paperwork is not a requirement of the standard *
  • All off ground belay/anchor points should be load tested to to 8 kN (815.77 kilos, 2185.64 pounds to be precise!)
  • All ground anchors should be tested to 4 kN (407 kilos)
  • There should be a plate or notice on the ACS stating amongst other things: name of manufacturer, date of installation, date of test, how many routes, how many routes can be used at the same time, max no’s on the ACS
  • You should have been given a manual which: explains all the information on the marking plate and shows the position and type of the protection points on the ACS
  • If you have no manual, no plate, it doesn’t fully comply.
  • Any company worth their salt should give you the engineers calculations and design drawings.
  • You should have some evidence of the date and type of testing.


European Ropes Course Association

Full title: Professional Standards for Mobile and Permanent Ropes Courses

No of Pages: Lots!

Description: ERCA have a very comprehensive set of standards which cover the following:

  • Code of Professional Conduct
  • Operational Standards * Installation Standards for Mobile Courses
  • Installation Standards for permanent Ropes Courses
  • Technical Inspection Standards
  • Training Standards