UIAA SafeCom sets sights on new Safety Standards

Featured, Safety
Historic testing equipment in the CAI Testing Laboratory. Photo: Gebhard Barbisch

The UIAA Safety Commission recently convened in Padova for their annual spring meeting, hosted by the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI). Over the course of three days, members engaged in a series of meetings and working group sessions addressing various safety topics critical to the climbing and mountaineering community.

On the first day of the event, members went climbing in the magnificent Colli Euganei with CAI instructors. This provided an excellent opportunity for delegates to experience the local climbing culture and discuss safety techniques in a practical setting.

Photo: Stephen Gladieux
Accreditation of a new UIAA laboratory

During the meetings, the commission approved the accreditation of a new UIAA laboratory, Quintin Certification (France). This addition is expected to enhance the UIAA’s ability to certify and test climbing equipment to the highest safety standards.

Significant Improvements in Working Groups

SafeCom working groups reported significant progress in several areas:

  • New Helmet Testing Method: A new standard is expected to be introduced soon.
  • Static Ropes and Canyoning Harnesses Aging: Ongoing research to better understand the longevity and safety of these critical pieces of equipment.
  • UIAA Safety Label and Laboratories Regulation Update: Proposal for a revision of the current regulations to manufacturers.
  • Corrosion Research: Continued investigation into the effects of corrosion on climbing equipment, with additional funding secured for tests.
  • Quality Control and Collaboration with Manufacturers: Strengthening the relationship between the UIAA and equipment manufacturers to ensure the highest standards of safety and quality.
  • Discussion about unusual accidents involving textile or metal parts
2024 UIAA Safety Commission spring meeting (Padova, Italy). Photo: Philippe Quintart
New Projects

Several new projects were launched during the meeting:

  • Via Ferrata Construction Working Group: Developing guidelines and best practices for constructing via ferratas.
  • Rope Cutting/Sharp Edge Test Working Group: Defining the best methods for testing rope durability against sharp edges. Daniel Sedláček from the University of Innsbruck presented his research on the “Cut Resistance of Climbing Ropes – A Comparative Analysis of Existing Measurement Methods and a Simulated Accident.” His findings are expected to influence future safety protocols and equipment standards.
  • Belay Resistor Working Group: Creating a standard for belay resistor devices used in climbing.
  • UIAA Standard for Ski-Mountaineering Helmets: Proposing a new standard specifically for ski-mountaineering helmets.
  • Bolting Guidelines/Certification: Initiating discussions on creating certification and guidelines for bolting.
Mass translation of UIAA Safety Label video

First published in 2022, a video explainer about the UIAA Safety Label is now available in nearly 25 languages. Full details of the translations can be found below. UIAA member associations and Safety Label Holders are encouraged to share the video on their platforms. The video is available in the following languages: English, Arabic, Bengali, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Macedonian, Mandarin, Nepalese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian. Please visit the dedicated YouTube playlist to view the videos.

Further details:

Visit to the CAI Testing Laboratory

Members also had the opportunity to visit the CAI testing laboratory. Claudio Melchiorri, former UIAA Mountaineering Commission President, provided a presentation on the history of the CAI Centro Studi Materiali e Tecniche and the research and testing work carried out over the last decades. They attended several equipment tests at the CAI test tower.

The UIAA Safety Commission’s spring meeting in Padua was a productive and collaborative event, reinforcing the commitment to climbing safety and innovation. The initiatives and research presented promise to advance the standards and practices within the climbing community significantly.

Honoring Vittorio Bedogni

A special dinner was held in honor of Vittorio Bedogni, an honorary member of the Safety Commission who sadly passed away a few weeks before the meeting. His contributions to climbing safety were remembered fondly, and his legacy continues to inspire the commission’s work. Please see the recent UIAA and CAI tribute to Vittorio here.

SafeCom in South America

Safety Commission member Frederico Campos (CBME, Brazil) has recently given two presentations about the work of SafeCom in South America.

Firstly he delivered a talk on the evolution of Anchor Safety during the inaugural International Mountain Sports Training Course held in Bariloche, Argentina. His presentation (in Spanish) can be found below.

A few weeks later, in front of 200 people in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, Fred presented a similar topic with a focus on corrosion study and the revision of the UIAA Rock Anchor Standard 123.

We have a long way to go in improving corrosion and rock preservation in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, but we are on the right track.

Photos from the meeting can be found here.