This brief is written to address a ropes course owner's worst fear. What happens to the ropes course owner when a fall occurs?

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1 USBasic Continuous Belay System[T.M.] THE COST OF A HUMAN LIFE #1. Although the cow's tail with two carabiner hooks and a trolley to zip is commonly accepted (the self belay system) and allowed; Ropes Course Owners are aware of having a problem; Participants may accidentally unclip themselves! This brief is written to address a ropes course owner's worst fear. What happens to the ropes course owner when a fall occurs? The scope of this brief doesn't address the trauma & consequences of the victim. More specific we want to explain the legal & insurance implication of an accident for the ropes course owner. It s all about precautions. #2. Most ropes course owners, thoughtfully & advised by their professional organizations & recommended by the new European Ropes Course Norm EN put shields all over the ropes course. #3. Most ropes course owners put up a sign at the entrance telling "Access on the ropes course is at your own risk". #4. Some ropes course owners require an "underwritten immunity declaration" by the participant. #5. Some ropes course owners consciously certify their ropes course according to EN & EN #6. What about the ropes course owner when a fall occurs? Plain & Simple; the ropes course owner is liable for his installation & instructors; NO MATTER HOW. Pagina 1

2 The precautions will be taken into account, but when these precautions are that effective., how could a fall occur? Consequences remain both in the legal domain and in the insurance domain for the ropes course owner. #7. The legal consequences: To give an example we address an accident on a climbing wall in 2005 in Palm Beach County U.S.A. We all know different courts will produce a different outcome; just consider this case as an example: Boomers in Boca Raton loses $2.3M verdict South Florida Business Journal - by Paul Brinkmann Monday, August 31, 2009 Modified: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 A Palm Beach County entertainment company was hit with a $2.3 million verdict last week in a personal injury case involving a climbing wall accident. The plaintiff, Michael Livingston, now 50, of Boston, filed suit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court after falling from a rock-climbing wall at Boomers in Boca Raton in As he climbed the wall, a hydraulic cable attachment at the top failed, sending him plunging to the floor. Livingston broke his ankle and suffered several fractured vertebrae. Prior to the accident, the software developer was an avid runner and athlete. We thought Boomers defense that they had no obligation to adequately maintain and test equipment was absolutely absurd, said Livingston s attorney, Stephan Le Clainche of West Palm Beach-based Babbitt, Johnson, Osborne & Le Clainche, in a news release. California-based Festival Fun Parks owns Boomers. Company representatives did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. The jury took just 20 minutes to come to a verdict following a four-day trial, according to a news release. Jury gives Boca Raton man $2.3 million after plunge from Boomers rock-climbing wall broke ankle By JASON SCHULTZ Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Monday, August 31, 2009 A jury today awarded a Boston man $2.3 million after he broke his ankle during an accident on a rock-climbing wall at a Boca Raton Boomers. Michael Livingston, 48, sued the recreation center at 3100 Airport Road after he fell from the 25-foot rock climbing wall May 15, 2005, according to a press release from Livingston's attorney. The software developer from Boston broke his ankle, which later had to be fused. The injury will prevent Livingston from running for the rest of his life, according to the release. The fall came after a hydraulic cable attached at the top of the wall fell, causing Livingston to plunge to the floor, according to the release. Pagina 2

3 #8. The consequences on the INSURANCE DOMAIN To adress this we read an interesting article in Canoe & Kayak Magazine Insurance for Paddlesports Companies By Jim Moss Think about two pools of water. One has 1,000 cups of water, the other 100 million cups. If you take a bucket of water out of each pool, in which one will the loss of water be evident? That's a metaphor for the insurance climate that paddlesports businesses face. Insurance has become more costly and harder to find, and any claim or problem has a major effect on everyone in the industry. Tough Insurance Market The paddlesport industry is a very small insurance pool compared to larger industries. In this case, a pool is the number of policies or the amount of premiums paid by an industry. The statistical chance of losing 100 percent of the water in a large pool is much less than with a small pool. It takes only one or two buckets (claims) to empty the small pool, while hundreds of buckets hardly make a dent in the large one. For insurance companies, large pools are safer, and consequently, a better investment. When money starts to dry up in the insurance market, insurance companies put their investments in safe places only, and the paddlesport industry is not one of them because of its size and potential for loss. Potential for Loss If the largest possible loss in a pool is one cup, the insurance risk is small. The law of averages (actuarial forecasting) predicts that only a few losses will occur each year. Consequently, a small pool with small losses is also a good investment. One example is boats. The chance of a fire or hurricane destroying all boats is very slim. When a loss occurs, it's for a fairly small amount. Boat insurance is relatively easy to find. It's a small pool with a small potential for loss. Industry Size Pagina 3

4 As much as the outdoor industry has grown, it is still very small. There are ten times as many cycling retailers in the United States as outdoor retailers, and paddlesports is just a percentage of outdoors. And though it's much bigger, the cycling market is also very small. Look at the NASDAQ or Fortune Not a single recreation company is traded. Insurance underwriters, the people responsible for choosing who or what to insure, only underwrite businesses that they understand. Compared to the possible return, our market is simply too small for them to spend time investigating. Exposure Another important factor is exposure. The paddlesports industry sells equipment that can potentially kill people. We sell that equipment to anyone, we rent to anyone, and we teach anyone how to use it. The overall exposure, or potential for a loss, appears astronomical to insurance companies. Even though we know the actual exposure is relatively small, actuarially the possibility cannot be ignored. Bad Moves Within the Industry A compounding problem is the misguided attempt by some in the outdoor industry to put their competitors out of business by urging injured parties to sue. In the eyes of the insurance industry (and from a practical business perspective), this is stupid. It leads not only to increased insurance costs for all, but has caused some companies to stop insuring the industry altogether. #9. DIGESTING THE ABOVE When a fall occurs you risk a law suit and a rise in insurance premium. Please consider that the person involved in #7. did not die. Also consider that the article in #8. only sheds some light on how an insurance company thinks. After reading this, it is meant that you don't feel good anymore, sure. The example is perhaps extreme, but true. Some more about the dangerous Self Belay System; -It always tears our hart apart when we listen to a ropes course owner defending the "sportive element" of his Self Belay System, and ending in the same phrase with being aware that in due time all ropes courses will have to adapt to safer systems. Pagina 4

5 Sorry guys, in NO industry one is allowed to risk the life and wellbeing of its clients that far as in the ropes course industry. -People familiar with the industry are aware that the traffic on some courses is that high, that industrial products wear faster than usual. There is a number of producers of PPE material (Personal Protection Equipment) that exclude the use on a ropes course, specifically because of the higher wear. The outcome of one lawsuit may put your ropes course out of business or rise the insurance cost into the astronomical. -How to avoid a law suit and an exploding insurance premium? There are better systems out there than the dangerous self belay system; a.o. Continuous Belay Systems and intelligent Belay Systems. In the USBasic Continuous Belay System a participant can't unhook anymore. In the intelligent Super Self Belay System a participant is always secured by at least one Connector. Some ropes course owners using the self belay system hide behind the costs of installing a CONTINUOUS BELAY SYSTEM or an intelligent Belay System (Super Self Belay System). Sure, these systems are more expensive than the current Self Belay System, but when you think investing in security is expensive, you should try ONE ACCIDENT. The cost of ONE ACCIDENT may be multiple times the cost of such a system. #10. CONCLUSION OF THIS BRIEF To give an example: in the USBasic Continuous Belay System, the cost for the USBasic Connectors and the fixation for 30 elements can be as low as ,-Euro (uninstalled). The USBasic Continuous Belay System can be found on The Super Self Belay System or Intelligent Belay System can be found on You should consider one of the above systems in your future projects. Document V04: 08/09/2012 Pagina 5

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