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Certification confusion for Petzl ZigZag

Richard Tregoweth - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Certification surrounding the Rock Exotica Unicender and the Rope Wrench has divided the aerial arb community over the last few years.

Individuals have staked their reputation (and in some cases their careers) on these products.

The problem is, both devices fall outside standard norms in terms of European standards: are they ascender, descender or friction device? What certification should be applied to the product? Would any of the current standards be relevant considering the use of the device?

Those pitching against the use of the Unicender and Rope Wrench in tree work typically quote Petzl as the universal benchmark for product certification and instruction so its not surprising the unusual certification for the new Petzl ZigZag has sneaked in under the radar.

Vague certification an understatement

Claims the Petzl ZigZag is 'Fully Certified' for DbRT have to be considered questionable.

There is no certification in the ZigZag documentation for EN 567 (Ascender), EN 12841 B (Rope Adjuster), EN 341; EN 12841 C (Descender), or EN 795 B (Friction Hitch) - see a useful comparison chart here.

All these standards could, conceptually at least, be applied to the ZigZag (and the Unicender).

What Petzl actually states in their comprehensive paperwork is that Notifying Body CE0082 (Apave Sudeurope in France) have tested the device to run on EN 1891A ropes with a outer diameter of 11.5mm to 13mm - and that's about it as far as Treetools is aware.

Obviously, the statement image below, taken directly from the Petzl documentation, cannot be interpreted as 'Full European Certification' for the ZigZag.

Product branding in action!

Treetools is not saying Petzl have set out to deceive the tree climbing community - quite the contrary.

As usual the Petzl documentation for the ZigZag is second-to-none - no other manufacturer comes close to this level of detail.

But… even with all this minutia, one can accept a certain level of confusion from the general consumer.

They see references to CE 0082 and EN 1891 A in Petzl's official documentation and automatically assume the ZigZag is 'Certified' without fully understanding or acknowledging what those CE and EN references mean.

The interesting phenomenon here is the amount of slack granted to the Petzl brand by aerial arborists, and organizations purporting to represent the tree climbing community.

And yet, that same looseness-of-interpretation is not evident with Rock Exotica (Unicender) and ISC/Singing Tree (Rope Wrench).

Brand strength perhaps?

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