Following recent failures and near disasters involving fixed aids of doubtful vintage in Derbyshire, Derbyshire Caving Association (DCA) and its members have decided on behalf of Derbyshire cavers to introduce a system of test / inspection and, where necessary, replacement of these items. This is so that cavers can use aids in the knowledge that they are checked and maintained on a regular basis.
The aim of DCA under this policy is to provide fixed aids that are tested or inspected regularly, and where appropriate remedial works or replacement will be carried out as necessary. The number of aids covered will be kept to a minimum and, where possible, alternatives considered. Where using other routes is safe and practical, consideration should be given to the removal of aids. It is not the aim of DCA under this policy to make caving easier but to make it safer.
1.1 We have defined a fixed aid as a form of artificial fixing or protection either permanent or semipermanent that remains in situ within the cave, pothole or mine. Its purpose shall be to aid and / or provide safe access, egress or progress within a cave, pothole or mine without providing structural support to any part of the passage within which it is placed.
2.1 To maintain / provide safe fixed aids where appropriate within caves, potholes and mines in the region considered as within DCA's rightful domain.
2.2 All aids shall be in caves, potholes and mines open to all DCA members and clubs.
2.3 Installation or adoption of any aid under this policy shall first be approved at a Council Meeting of the Association.
2.4 All aspects covered by this policy are to be co-ordinated through the Association's Equipment Officer.
3.1 Prior to fixing any new aid or replacing existing ones, consideration shall be given to conservation, both with regard to the immediate area of the aid, and also to those areas to which it provides access.
3.2 The conservation and Access Officer must be notified (other than in meeting minutes) prior to any new or replacement aid being fixed or projects undertaken to install or replace fixed aids. His recommendations must be followed.
3.3 Following failure to agree recommendations, the matter shall be brought before the next Council Meeting for resolution.
4.1 No fixed aid covered under this policy must either hinder or impede any potential rescue efforts. If necessary the aid should be readily removable by the rescue team.
4.2 Prior to removing or replacing any aid consideration will be given to the potential of the aid to cause a rescue.
4.3 Consideration when installing or replacing aids will be given to factors such as flooding e.g. where a ladder will be better than a chain.
4.4 If there is any doubt on any of the items covered under section 4, the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation must be formally consulted.
5. TEST AND INSPECTION
5.1 A test or inspection will be carried out on a regular basis by a nominated inspector on behalf of the Association. Inspectors will be nominated by the Equipment Officer, and will be people who have a working knowledge of caving equipment and techniques.
5.2 The regularity of inspections for each aid will be guided by industry standards, or be at the discretion of the Association's Inspector along with the agreement of the Association's Equipment Officer. This Officer must inform the Association at the next Council Meeting Meeting of all decisions or intentions in the matter.
5.3 A record of all the fixed aids subject to this policy will be kept by the Association's Equipment Officer and a copy held by the Association's Secretary.
5.4 The records will include at least the following information for each aid: -
DCA specific I.D. number,
Type of aid,
Cave, pothole or mine in which it is situated,
Location within the underground system,
Date of last test or inspection,
Nominated inspector who carried out the last test or inspection,
Type of test or inspection carried out,
Results and / or recommendations,
Date of next test and 1 or inspection.
5.5 It is the responsibility of the Association's Equipment Officer to ensure that any recommendations from the test or inspection are carried out within a practical time scale. Failing this, that the aid is removed until such time as the recommendations can be fulfilled.
5.6 Following completion of any remedial works a further inspection will be carried out as soon as practical. The inspector will not be the person or persons to have carried out the remedial works.
5.7 A full and up to date test and inspection programme / record will be kept by the Association's Equipment Officer. This will be available for inspection by persons authorized by the Council of DCA.
6.1 Any individual or group authorised to work on behalf of the Association under this policy will be covered by the Association's insurance in as much as they are acting as Officers of the Association.
6.2 Any works or inspections carried out as part of this policy will be covered by the Association's insurance.
7.1 All users of fixed aids should each individually inspect and cheek the aid and satisfy themselves that it is safe prior to using it.
7.2 Only aids recorded within the DCA Handbook and its subsequent updates as being adopted or covered by DCA fixed aids policy are subject to this policy and its subsequent updates.
8.1 All works will be funded directly through the Association.
8.2 Donations / sponsorship may only be accepted with prior agreement of the Association.
8.3 No individual or group shall incur expenses whilst carrying out this work as part of this policy which they cannot justify to the Association.
8.4 Prior to any expenses being incurred on behalf of the Association, the Treasurer's approval must be given.
First accepted at the Annual General Meeting of 21st February 1998.