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Industry fixation on 22kN is not best practice!

Industry fixation on 22kN is not best practice!

Richard Tregoweth - Friday, May 20, 2011

The New Zealand arb industry is out on a limb worldwide with its blanket application of 22kN break strength for tree climbing gear.

Yes, we understand some people think that things have to dumb'ed down for the average kiwi 'aerial' arborist but this is taking the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle to the extreme.

By applying the 22kN rule to almost every item of tree climbing gear currently available we are ignoring the fact that system configuration can significantly alter the load capacity of any given piece of equipment eg think girth hitch  on a rated 22kN sling or even simpler, a knot in a length of 22kN rope.

International safety standards address the concept of system configuration and rate accordingly. They do not accommodate the blanket 22kN principle.

In addition, the absolute 22kN rating makes a significant percentage of tree climbing equipment currently available in the New Zealand market in breach of the NZ Best Practice Guidelines (doh!).

Instead of insisting on the magical 22kN rating, the industry should be working in accordance with international standards, fostering an understanding of system configuration for climbing and rigging applications - yes… we're talking education rather than regulation but we would be a whole lot better off in the long run if we pursued this line of thinking.

As an industry we harp on about being 'professional' and yet we promote a figure that requires no degree of intelligence whatsoever - if it's 22kN it's good to go - regardless of configuration!

It's time to re-think the simplicity of 22kN (while the Best Practice Guideline is still in draft format)!
Changes to the load capacity of the humble sling (rated at 500lbs) when configured differently.

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