Treetop Walkway Project Guidance

Inspections | Maintenance | Management

for projects such as Resorts, Adventure Parks, Schools or Trusts

Project Guidance and Context

A Treetop Walkway is a leisure activity within a safe/supported environment; it does not require participant active safety systems, belay or any specific training to use the facility. Other than possibly stepping onto and off an entrance platform there is minimal element of assault, obstacle, initiative or physical challenge.

It may be a sensible to consider this facility within the generic and overall context of EN 15567 in consideration of the obligations of Treehouse Life Ltd. [as Constructors] and you as our Client [as Operators], also as a framework for Inspections, Maintenance and Operation.

Compliance with the EN is NOT a legal requirement, nor is this EN relevant or specific to Treetop Walkways - it is a European Ropes Course Standard relevant to High Ropes Courses and as such would normally rely upon a belay system, which DOES NOT apply to a Treetop Walkway. However, it may be referred to as a guide by Health and Safety enforcing agencies when considering how a Constructor or Operator has discharged their health and safety duties.

Inaugural Inspection

Although NOT mandatory for a Treetop Walkway, before it is used an inaugural inspection should take place. This should only be done by a completely independent and professional inspector [classified as a Type A inspector, as defined by EN ISO/IET 17020].

By definition, such an inspector will have no commercial interest in the construction or maintenance of the project, nor any fiduciary interest in the facility to be inspected. They must also have their own public liability insurance for such work.

Routine visual check - every day

This should be carried out before opening of the Treetop Walkway each day of use by the Operators.

This involves a visual check of critical components, an assessment of the general appearance of the walkway and the surrounding environment . An appropriately trained person will normally do this.

Examples of visual checks and operational inspection are cleanliness, condition of ground and walkway surfaces, sharp edges, missing components and excessive wear [of any elements and/or moving parts].

Operational Inspection - every 1-3 months

This should be carried by the Operator every 1-3 months.

Examples of visual checks and operational inspection are cleanliness, condition of ground and walkway surface, sharp edges, missing components, excessive wear [of any elements and/or moving parts] and the structural integrity of the whole system specifically including whole steel cable elements.

Specifically steel cables, wire grips and ferrules, shackles, thimbles, rigging screws, steel wire wear or animal damage of ropes or netting, any change in the nature/appearance of timbers, any vandalism or tampering, damaged branches, low hanging branches, any unexpected or inappropriate activity, rubbish, trip-hazard branches or undergrowth. An appropriately trained person will normally do this.

Periodical Inspections - once a year

This is recommended to be carried out by a Type C inspector [as defined by EN ISO/IEC 17020] at least once a year. They may also have a maintenance and construction capability but this must be a separate part to their business and not interfere, or have influence on, their role as an inspector.

The following shall be carried out as part of this process:

  • Visual inspection.
  • Functional inspection
  • Determine the replacement schedule for worn components.
  • Examination of the Constructors instructions for maintenance.

A comprehensive report must be provided as part of this inspection; this will include:

  • Date and place of the inspection.
  • Results of the inspection indicating any defects observed.
  • Assessment, whether or not there are any misgivings about further use of the facility.
  • Information on necessary re-inspection.
  • Name, address and signature of the examiner.

Maintenance

Inspections and maintenance are intrinsically linked. Minor maintenance is often best carried out by the Operator during the routine visual and operational inspection.

For more significant maintenance, it is advised that a specialist company [such as Treehouse Life Ltd.] carry out the replacement and tensioning of cables/netting/ropes and replacement of poles/platforms/timbers.

Working at Height Regulations [WAHR] and Inspections

Although Working at Height may not be relevant to your project given its height above ground and/or water, but an awareness and understanding of such regulations is helpful to working practices, Method Statements and practical skill-sets.

During routine visual checks inspection you should use the Rope Bridge as participants and that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been carried out with any necessary control measures in place.

During all other forms of inspections, maintenance and construction then practices consistent with the WAHR may be required. This may include the use of climbing harnesses and other PPE and may involve the use of dual rope techniques. It is beyond the scope of this document to provide the details of WAHR and maintenance techniques but inspectors should be conversant with these regulations before carrying out their work.

Use of the Treetop Walkway

  • The Treetop Walkway has been designed with consideration for the size and the body weight of the family participants, kids and grown-ups.
  • Any moving parts have been designed to limit or eliminate the risk of any injury.
  • There are no sharp edges within reach of the user.
  • The installation is constructed and the equipment chosen so that openings that can be reached in normal use and do not create entrapment hazards.
  • Free space does not contain any unprotected obstacles that a person manoeuvring or falling might crash into, other than the constituent parts of the Treetop Walkway or the natural state of the surrounding environment.
  • It is not possible to undo critical components without a tool.
  • A Treetop Walkway is designed and intended to be used as a walking journey, with a clearly sign-posted start and finish.
  • Access into and exit from the Treetop Walkway is from the ground, ground based platforms and 'board-walk' settings and/or a 4-sided Rope Ladder.
  • The Treetop Walkway is suspended walkway experience on decking 'slats' that may also include access decking or platforms.

The whole Treetop Walkway is intended as a peaceful, quiet leisure activity within a wetlands setting. Designed and intended for low noise, zero impact and principally as a new and unique way in which to observe and interact with the birds, trees and fauna. It is an educational and leisure experience for the whole family within the habitat to be used by adults and supervised children, also educational groups under supervision.

It is NOT an active system such as 'Go Ape' or a high ropes course and does not require any specific instruction other than safety guidance and the requirement of supervision of children at all times.

Weather restrictions

Extra care is required when using the whole Treetop Walkway experience when wet from rainfall or in snow/icy or windy conditions.

This is advisory and represents a Health and Safety consideration that is no more or less relevant to any pathway, walkway or passage within the local environment, the Treetop Walkway does not represent any additional risk with regards weather conditions other than the generally recognised risks of being under trees during the occasions of a lightening storm or the likelihood of a lightening storm.

A policy for obtaining and interpreting weather forecasts may be needed. It must be clear who is to do this, when it is to be done and what action they will take for a range of forecasts. Although the location may be generally open and possibly available to visitors in inclement weather conditions, there need to be specific decisions regarding use of a Treetop Walkway when wet, icy or windy.

How many people who can use the Treetop Walkway

Our advice and instructions for use would be to limit numbers on the Treetop Walkway to 10 persons at any one time. This is also to do with flow of people and their enjoyment of the experience. It is recommended that this is clearly marked through signage.

Supervision

Children should always be under parental/guardian supervision. Adults and families with children who are always under full parental/guardian supervision may require operational supervision from the Client.

This level of supervision provides assistance to someone using the Rope Bridge when sought but may not provide pre-emptive assistance.

This means that each group will not be accompanied by the Client during their time with the Treetop Walkway. Instead, the Client will roam around the vicinity of the Treetop Walkway and can be summoned, if required, to communicate verbally with and to provide adequate assistance to participants.

The immediate safety, security and behaviour of participants is therefore largely the responsibility of the participants and/or their accompanying parents, leaders or teachers.

Occasionally, groups either as a visiting group or an educational group are under a level of supervision whereby the Client can clearly see the participants and intervene verbally. Such verbal intervention may be targeted at deliberate and dangerous misuse of the Rope Bridge, such as reckless behaviour, or inadvertent misuse such as deliberately bouncing or jumping. The Client will also be positioned and skilled to assist those struggling with getting around the Rope Bridge because of nervousness or limited physical ability. They will also be able to assist individuals down from the course should the need arise.

Clothing

Suitable clothing is advisory and recommended [in the form of suitable signage], although there are no restrictions other than what would normally be worn to a garden/park setting and/or a woodland activity. All participants have already walked some distance and entered into a woodland/garden/Adventure Park setting with all of its natural and potential dangers well before reaching the start [or end] of the Treetop Walkway.

Comfortable clothing and fully laced trainers [or similar], no loose garments or clothes with abrasive elements like buckles or large buttons. Clothes that allow full movement through the whole body, for example long trousers/joggers, leggings or shorts, T-shirts/sweatshirts and fleeces.

Security and Emergency Plan

In commercial situations it will generally be appropriate to have a policy on ratios, maximum group size, use of staff/assistants, etc. This should take account of management difficulties on particular elements. There should be sufficient security of the whole area to ensure that only personnel under suitable supervision are able to use the facility.

There will be a need for checking any conditions that requires a participant to receive special attention, or who may be excluded from the activity. If this is the case this will call for additional personnel to be there and will need to be an appropriate system for making them available.

In addition to normal first aid facilities it may be appropriate to include scenario-based training, using actual elements, so staff can identify the problems as well as the solutions particular elements may present.

Participants not involved in an element may be harmed in a variety of ways. For example, participants 'waiting their turn' can wander off into the surrounding natural areas.

In the event of an injured person within the Treetop Walkway, there should be an immediate assessment by the staff as to the ability of that person to be guided and instructed to exit the walkway. If they are unable to be guided across then the staff will need to enter the walkway. All relevant staff should be fully trained and familiar with access into the walkway. It may be that necessary first aid or treatment is administered within the walkway or support is given for exit of the facility. The whole area should adopt a non-smoking policy.

Cable systems

Key parts:

  • Galvanised Thimble using two [working and back-up] Talucrimp Ferrules - 100kN
  • 4.75T SWL bow-pin Galvanised Shackle - minimum break-load 28.5T
  • 24mm 2.2T SWL Galvanised Rigging Screw - minimum break-load 13.2T
  • 2.04T SWL Galvanised Steel Cable 12mm, 7/19 cable [specified for Rope Courses] - minimum break-load 10.2T

Maintenance checks/safety inspections:

As part of Inaugural check - Shackles - 1 x Black Cable Tie installed.

Check as part of Daily and Operational Inspections - Check they are intact and non-tampered.

Check as part of Annual and Periodic Inspections - Replace with a new colour Cable Tie to indicate check.

Zero-impact Ground Anchors

Percussion Driven Earth Anchors [PDEA] - a lightweight corrosion resistant anchor. Creates minimal disturbance of the soil during installation, can be stressed to an exact holding capacity and made operational immediately. As a completely dry system it also has minimal impact on the environment.

4 anchors at each end of the Treetop Walkway [8 in total]. Ground buried anchor systems installed by driving the anchor with hand-held hydraulic breaker and drive rods. With the anchor at a 3m depth the rods are removed. The anchor is then load-locked. Each anchor is independently tested to 50kN.

  • Anchor Type: B6
  • Dimensions: 336 206 x 91mm
  • Projected Surface Area: 45,500 sq/mm
  • Materials: SG Cast Iron
  • Typical Load Range: 30-100kN
  • Minimum Driven Depth: 3m
  • Tendon: 12mm x 4m length stainless steel cable for permanent installation. 4m length tendon allows for at least a 3m depth ground burial with a one metre surface tail. The in ground tendon is installed in stainless steel cable for permanent burial.