Rope Access:
Most rope rescue falls under the CAL OSHA definition of Rope Access: “The use
of rope access equipment where ropes are used as the primary means of support,
as a means of protection or positioning, and where an employee descends or
ascends on a rope, or traverses along a rope”. The above definition applies to any
on-rope activities regardless of angle if one is leaning on the rope system. Rope
Access requires on-rope personnel to employ Fall Arrest methodology (see
definition below). Rope Access requirements do not apply if one can negotiate a
slope completely unaided by a rope system. In this case, a single line belay system
can be added for safety as long as the belay is not used to aid in ascent or decent.

Low Angle:
NFPA Definition: “Refers to an environment in which the load is predominantly
supported by itself and not the rope rescue system (e.g., flat land or mild sloping
surface).” A literal interpretation means more weight is on the rescuers feet than
on the rope rescue system they are attached to. The rescuers, their gear, and their
patient (if any) represent the “load”. As the incline they are operating on increases
in steepness, the weight on the rope rescue system increases. Rope rescue experts
generally agree that what the above means is that a low angle rope rescue
environment includes all slopes up to 40 – 45 degrees. The condition of the
surface rescuers are working on can add or subtract from the weight acting upon
the rope rescue system (i.e. soft ground, mud, snow, ice, scree, rock, etc.). Tests
have indicated that on slopes as steep as 55 degrees, there is still more weight or
force on rescuers feet than on the rope rescue system. Obviously, Low Angle
Rope Rescue encompasses many levels of fall hazard from the inconsequential to
the extremely hazardous.

High Angle:
NFPA Definition: “Refers to an environment in which the load is predominantly
supported by the rope rescue system”.

Fall Restraint:
A system that prevents an employee from falling over an edge that presents a fall
hazard (like a cliff, or the edge of a well, etc.). It consists of a class II pelvic
harness (or greater, i.e. a class III harness), a rope or section of webbing
connected to the harness and a secure anchorage that limits travel of the employee
preventing a fall. Fall restraint is required for any personnel within a body-length
of an edge (about 6’). A Cal OSHA requirement.

Fall Arrest:
A system that is capable of stopping or arresting a fall of personnel that go over
an edge to perform a rescue or other task. It consists of a class III full-body
harness, a mainline with a dedicated secure anchor, and a belay line with a
dedicated secure anchor. Class III harnesses must be professionally manufactured,
meet NFPA specifications, be third-party tested, and be labeled as such. Hand tied
harnesses or combinations of manufactured harnesses and hand tied harnesses are
strictly prohibited. Fall arrest is required for all personnel who go over an edge
with the aid of a rope system. A Cal OSHA requirement.

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