BCA Eco Anchor Scheme – A Discussion Document

Discussion on any caving topic.
Bob Mehew
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue 28 Mar 2006 11:20

BCA Eco Anchor Scheme – A Discussion Document

Post by Bob Mehew » Fri 22 Dec 2006 20:55

BCA Equipment and Techniques Committee has posted up a discussion document on Eco Anchors at


The front piece says most of what is needed to be said as an introduction. All paragraphs are numbered so please quote the paragraph number in any comment to help identification.

One key area which comment is sought, is about whether the drafts of the scheme (in Courier New font) are clear enough to understand. What may be clear to the Committee may not be to you. And for areas like anchor inspection which are safety critical (like when you hang off an anchor you should have spotted was defective! - but of course you always use 2).

Oh by the way, there are two document links in the link line, some how the spacing got lost which should have separated them. So "Anchor and Inspection Regime" is one document whose annexes give a complete history of the work done by CNCC Technical Group (which is worth reading in its own right) whilst "Anchor Discussion Document" is the discussion document.

Discussion on this (or new) threads is most welcomed, especially if you disagree with something. We are seeking opinions and views and this seemed the easiest way of getting some feed back. ( A similar thread has been set up on ukCaving Equipment forum with Bubba's agreement.)

Lastly, I can't over emphasise the amount of work done by CNCC Tech Group in those early days which has lead to such a successful scheme to which all cavers must owe a very large vote of thanks (and probably more than one or two beers ).

David Cooke
Site Admin
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Joined: Thu 29 Dec 2005 23:22
Location: Axbridge, Somerset, UK

Post by David Cooke » Mon 26 Mar 2007 17:21

This is the bulk of an email I wrote to various Equipment Committee types as a result of foolishly sticking my head above the parapet at the AGM last weekend.

NB the deadline for consultation is the end of the month.
Cookie wrote:To be more specific. Items 58 talks of SRT Competence and Rigging Competence. I would like to add another, Placement Competence. I.e. the skill of assessing a pitch and decide the best location and number of anchors and then placing those anchors using the approved method. It would be informed by Rigging competence and would require SRT and Rigging competence to execute.

Assessing Placement Competence is a good idea. It would include an element of assessing Rigging Competence. However I am against assessing SRT Competence, that is the individuals responsibility. If they injure themselves that is their problem. If we start assessing them it'll become our liability.

Item 60 talks of using Part 6.4.4 of the CIC Handbook to assess these competences. I see nothing on Placement Competence. I see a lot that is checking SRT Competence which we should not be doing. I think a new check list will be required although in a similar vein.

I am against developing a system that relies on CICs, not least, with my new BCA Treasurer hat on, in the considerable sums that would have to be paid to CICs. I believe a peer review process would be superior in many ways. Maybe incorporated in to the Workshops which I think are a good idea.

It was worth considering what would happen if an incompetent Anchor Installer was allowed to made make placements.

Say they placed anchors safely, but with poor locations. There would be much winging and if bad enough the old anchors would be removed and new ones places. A lot of grief but no harm other than a hole in the rock that could easily be hidden.

Say they place an unsafe anchor that doesn't fail immediately. The first caving trip to use the new anchor will complain, probably on the UK Forum rather than to the person responsible. The word would spread, the anchor would be labelled as unsafe. The Installer would be sacked. Ultimately the anchor would be removed and replaced by a hopefully more competent person. Again a lot of grief but no real harm.

Say they place an unsafe anchor that fails immediately. Well the caving party should have inspected the anchor first and rigged with two points of attachment shouldn't they? So no harm should befall them. In truth a catastrophic failure is very unlikely but to reduce the risk further maybe a different approved individual from the one who placed the anchor should test it.

What other scenarios are there? The upshot of this consideration is that our systems for assessing Anchor Installers need not be gold plated when you consider the relatively minor consequences of allowing a bad one through. They will be uncovered by the caving community pretty quickly.


Good. Testing Placement Competence.

Bad. Testing SRT Competence.

Bad. Involving CICs.

Bad. Gold plating our systems. (Like our Government does for EU legislation).

Good. Separating the role of placing and testing a particular anchor. That shouldn't prevent an individual from both placing and testing, just not on the same anchor.

A final thought. The Discussion Document shows that a huge amount of very valuable work has been done. But when making all these proposals the following thoughts should be born in mind. Are we Gold Plating our systems? Are we creating a rod for our own back?
Dave Cooke
BCA IT Working Party, BCA Web Services, National Cave Registry Co-ordinator, CSCC Webmaster

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