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Safety Policy

This safety policy is applicable to all activities run by Womenclimb at outdoor climbing venues, indoor walls and mobile climbing walls.  Different environments pose different types of risk, some of which can have serious consequences.  In taking part in a Womenclimb activity participants and members are accepting that risk is a part of this activity.  Womenclimb will actively seek to mitigate risks, through ongoing active risk assessment and management. As a participant you are also responsible for maintaining your own and others’ safety.  The purpose of this policy is to outline our approach and expectations of you as a Womenclimb member or participant on Womenclimb training.

Womenclimb recognises and endorses the BMC Participation Statement

“The BMC recognises that climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.”

By becoming a Womenclimb member, you accept that you are aware of this statement, accept the risks associated with climbing and take responsibility for your actions.


Our Duty of Care

Womenclimb takes its responsibilities seriously.  We work to reduce risk through a range of mechanisms.  For these to work effectively, members and participants must abide by the rules and guidelines, to reduce risk.  

Climbing Meetups

Climbing meetups are for climbers who are competent to belay and tie themselves in, unless otherwise specified. Attendees will need to satisfy the climbing centre requirements to climb independently in order to attend a Womenclimb Meetup at an indoor climbing wall. Climbers take responsibility for their actions as independent climbers.


The purpose of a meetup is to enable participants to meet other people to climb with, to improve technique through shared knowledge and to build confidence through seeing role models. Womenclimb Meetups are not formal training opportunities and at all times attendees are responsible for their actions. Womenclimb will not bear responsibility for the actions of members or participants on indoor and outdoor climbing meetups. If members or participants are not happy to complete an activity, they should not do it.

Meetups are staffed by volunteer Local Ambassadors whose role is to oversee the smooth running of the meetup. All climbers have a responsibility for climbing safety. Volunteers may request that attendees stop their current activity, in order that the volunteer can ensure safety. The aim of any intervention is to maintain safety of attendees and volunteers as well as other users of the climbing venue. By asking each other ‘are we really doing this safely’, we can help to reduce risks of accidents. Thankfully climbing accidents are rare, and to help maintain this record, your Local Ambassador may ask you to explain what you’re doing at any given time. Local Ambassadors are not qualified staff and cannot give definitive answers.  They may give you their opinion, for discussion, but for a more definitive answer, you should speak to a climbing professional.

At indoor and outdoor meetups, as a minimum, you should:

  1. Inform other climbers accurately about your level of experience
  2. Advise others only within the scope of my knowledge and experience
  3. Ask if you are unsure of something related to safety
  4. Knot the end of the rope when lead climbing
  5. Establish clear commands with partners before climbing
  6. Check yourself & climbing buddies every time before climbing – gear, knots, rope
  7. Belay safely – with care and attention
  8. Make your own decisions based on your own judgment

Instructed Training

Climbing Instruction

For beginner and taster sessions all climbers will be classed as novice and will be supervised by an instructor appointed by Womenclimb to lead the session.  An instructor will usually supervise up to 8 novice climbers in one session, however the ratio may change according to the needs of group members and the scenario.  An instructor may allow participants to belay independently, but still under supervision, if s/he deems the person to be competent having assessed their ability, skills and knowledge.  

For technique and coaching sessions, climbers may be classed as novice and may be supervised to ensure a consistent level of belaying practice. Do not be offended; this is a standard practice.

In some instances, where safety could be affected, session plans may change.  This may include:

  • A change of instructor, for example where the instructor is unavailable due to illness
  • A change of venue, if something changes to cause a safety issue at the original venue
  • A change of date of the session, if weather or circumstance may cause safety issues

Climbing instructors will be qualified to Climbing Instructor level as a minimum on outdoor climbing sessions and Climbing Wall Instructor as a minimum on indoor climbing sessions.  Participants will receive Climbing Course Details outlining the relevant information for the session, including their instructor’s name, qualifications and a contact number.  Each participant will be issued with a recommended kit list. Each participant will be required to complete a health form, declaration of fitness and participation form. No participant may start a session without completing these forms.  Forms will be stored according to the requirements of the GDPR, information of which is available here: Womenclimb Privacy Policy

Bouldering

Bouldering is un-roped.  While there is matting beneath boulder problems at indoor climbing venues, (a bouldering route is called a ‘problem’) this does not prevent injury.  You can seriously injure yourself, for example with broken or sprained limbs, during this type of climbing. Holds can break or spin, which can cause injury.  You must exercise your own judgment about the risks before you climb.  Only socks, bare feet and climbing shoes are permitted in most bouldering areas in indoor walls.  

To reduce risks when bouldering you should:

  • Climb within your capabilities
  • In most cases, climbing down off boulder problems is advised
  • If you do fall, aim to land in a controlled way
  • Never fall uncontrollably – it risks injuring you and others
  • Be aware of where others are climbing – stay back from the bouldering wall and away from climbers on problems
  • Ensure the area beneath your climbing area is clear from obstruction
  • Before attempting an unfamiliar technique (e.g. spotting) seek instruction

Roped climbing

To reduce risks when roped climbing:

  • Always use a belay device or assisted braking device (ATC, Bug, Grigri)
  • Body belaying is not permitted
  • Stand as close to the wall as is practical
  • Always stand – sitting or lying down is not permitted
  • Always use a rope – free climbing is not permitted
  • Always use a suitable knot for tying in
  • Always use a safety harness to attach to the rope
  • Before attempting an unfamiliar technique seek instruction
  • Be aware of climbers who may be above you – stand in safe zones if possible
  • Do not climb or belay when under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Climbing Venues

Participants will be notified in advance of the course/ session venue.  This is subject to change at any time up to the course start and is subject to cancellation at any time, if safety issues arise.  

Indoor climbing walls across the UK and abroad may be used for courses.  

Participant’s Duty of Care

Participants attending a Womenclimb session must exercise care, common sense and self preservation at all times including when not climbing.  All climbers have a duty of care to act responsibly to other climbers, wherever they are climbing. If you are not confident in the use of any climbing equipment, then do not use it without supervision or without the presence of someone who is competent to do so.

  • Issues must be reported immediately to Womenclimb staff.  
  • Participants must allow other climbers to climb and belay without distraction.  
  • Attendees should follow the advice of Womenclimb and Centre staff at all times.

Any participant deemed to be taking unnecessary risks or going against safety advice given by volunteers, staff or contractors before or during a session can be asked to leave the session and any session payment will be forfeited.  

Personal Property

Womenclimb accepts no responsibility for loss, damage or theft of personal property.  Some centres provide lockers or storage, but participants accept the risk associated with leaving valuables unattended or unsecured.   

Health & Safety, Accidents and First Aid

Womenclimb instructors are qualified first aiders.  Climbing walls also have their own dedicated first aiders.  If an accident or injury occurs, speak to a member of staff.  Participants are subject to the Womenclimb and the individual climbing centres’ guidelines, requirements and rules.  

Definitions

Participants are defined as any person under the instruction of a Womenclimb instructor as part of a formal or informal climbing session, whether paid for or free of charge.

Climbing wall is defined as any indoor or outdoor wall, with roped, lead climbing or bouldering uses.   

Climbers are defined as any person attending a climbing centre, session or event with the aim of climbing, learning to climb, trying out climbing or watching climbing.  

Members are defined as any person who is a current registered member on the Womenclimb members’ register.

For further information email hello@womenclimb.co.uk