Two Rope Working

HSE Decision on Two-Rope Working

The HSE has observed that the arboricultural industry is not fully complying with the Work at Height Regulations 2005. As the Regulator it has been advising the Arboricultural Association on what it considers to be acceptable guidance to be offered to our industry’s climbing arborists – and their managers.

“Climbing and working with a single rope has remained the custom and practice in the industry for too long and been a factor in many falls from height. Recognising this, some clients in the utility sector have shown the way forward by ensuring their contractors use two ropes. HSE strongly support efforts by the AA to promote this system of work through its publications so that more climbers and businesses understand it is necessary to reduce risk and comply with the law.”

Stuart Parry, HM Inspector of Health and Safety

There has been significant work by the AA, including a demonstration day to the HSE to try and convince them to change the decision, unfortunately the HSE is adamant that its definitions of rope access and work positioning will not be changed.

It has been stated that it may be acceptable to use a single rope when:

“A risk assessment has demonstrated that a second line would entail higher risk to persons; and appropriate measures have been taken to ensure safety” 

WaHR 2005, Schedule 5, Part 3

This means that is will be expected that, where climbing is chosen the be the most appropriate way of carrying out work, climbing arborists will be anchored in by using two separately anchored and independent climbing lines for most of the time.

As an innovative and complaint contractor, we are implementing this through our workforce, additional equipment will need to be procured and additional time allowance will be required for the teams to get used to this system, that is assumed to be more time consuming generally.

Training providers have already adopted this as part of the criteria and our apprentices have been trained and updated in two rope working, plus one of our trainee arborists successfully completed Unit 206 just before Christmas.

It is expected that some of the equipment suppliers will be designing and introducing some innovative pieces of equipment to assist in the near future.

This is a significant change for the Arboricultural industry and main contractors should be made aware of these changes and ensure contractors on their sites are adhering to the legislation.


If you would like to have your say, please see link below to the Industry consultation on the revised ICoP:–-Tree-Work-at-Heigh

The consultation runs until 17th January