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Tag ‘climbers’

Mountains must display height warning signs for climbers

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004



‘High up’ signs on mountains row
A Euro MP claims new EU laws to prevent falls at work will mean UK mountain pursuits centres having to warn people that they are “high up”… Welsh Tory MEP Jonathan Evans said…“This is madness – most people know that when they climb a mountain they will be up high!”
(BBC News Online, 22 March 2004)

Twit peaks – Signs warn climbers: Careful, you’ll fall off
Warning signs are to be put on mountains to let climbers know they are high up.  A bizarre new law from Eurocrats is intended to prevent people falling on building sites.  But the result is that mountaineers may also have to be warned they are at risk of tumbling off.
(Daily Star, 24 March 2004, page 12)

Going climbing? Better use scaffolding, says EU
Climbers may have to swap ropes for scaffolding and mountain walkers may have to negotiate warning signs telling them that snow is slippery, according to Brussels-inspired safety regulations.  The Temporary Work at Height Directive is aimed at protecting workers such as window cleaners and builders but leading figures in the outdoor sports industry warned yesterday it was being applied wrongly and could drive them out of business.
(Daily Telegraph, 26 March 2004, page 1)

Climbers to be told: Snow is slippery
Bizarre new EU safety regulations say climbers must swap ropes for scaffolding, while mountain paths will feature signs warning “Snow is slippery”.
(Evening Standard, 26 March 2004, page 20)

Sixty-eight people were killed by falls while working at height in the UK in 2002.  The BBC did not let this stand in the way of constructing a tabloid-style eurosceptic “row” which was rapidly followed up by the press.  There is no row over height signs on mountains because no such requirement exists.  When this was pointed out to the BBC, the retort was that because the claim had been made by an MEP that was sufficient to run the story.  How far-fetched does a claim have to be before it is considered worth checking?   
An EU directive aimed at protecting those who work at height, such as builders, comes into force in July of this year.  It was agreed by the European Parliament and member state governments in 2001, and aims to reduce the number of workplace fatalities due to falls.  The rules do not require “high up” signs on mountains or for climbers to use scaffolding.   They will also not see the advent of “Snow is slippery” warnings. 
As a directive, the rules have to be implemented into UK law, and this is being done by the Health and Safety Executive.   Even the most cursory of glances at the HSE’s draft proposals would have told journalists, or indeed MEPs, that notions of “high up” signs on mountains were fanciful.

Brussels bans climbers’ safety wedges?

Thursday, February 2nd, 1995

A Brussels Directive is responsible for making some of Britain’s most challenging rock climbs more dangerous overnight by banning ‘RP nuts’ used to limit falls.
(The Independent on Sunday, p.8, 2 February 1995)

‘Brussels’ should not be held responsible for this, for it was the Member States and not ‘Brussels’ which agreed to the Directive. This is particularly so as the relevant part of the EU Directive involved, in this instance dealing with equipment designed to protect people falling from height, such as Australian-made RP nuts, was agreed by every Member State with the exception of Italy.

Furthermore the Directive does not ban anything, but simply specifies the conditions under which Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be put on the market.

The Directive provides for different testing procedures according to the gravity and irreversibility of the health risk. Its objectives are to make life easier for manufacturers by ensuring common certification procedures and safety testing for personal protective equipment placed on the EU market, replacing those tests undergone at a national level for each Member State, and to guarantee consumers a common standard of safety and quality. All PPE must bear a CE mark.

The Commission and Member States are aware that some conformity assessment procedures, especially those outlined in Category III below, are causing problems for manufacturers, and discussions are underway in order to try to find a solution which serves both the interests of industry and the necessary safety requirements.

Notes for editors:

Directive on Personal Protective Equipment (89/686/EEC);
-Category III: requires a declaration of conformity by the manufacturer after a notified body has both drawn up an EC type-examination certificate for a PPE model and carried out the quality control of the manufacturer’s production system.

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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