Question 3: Does the industry need a single national standard for design and/or operations? Why or why not?
Micah: This is a tricky question because multiple standards currently exist and are being used successfully within the industry. My hope is that all of the standards eventually align with each other and continue to meet the needs of their users as the industry matures.
Jim: With so many new products hitting the market, both from the U.S. and abroad, there is also a great need for organized quality control of products used in the design and operation of our parks. I see this as a joint effort, as with most aspects of the standard and regulatory development. This is not a completely unique situation, and some of the work has already been done by organizations like UIAA and NFPA with regard to climbing and rescue equipment, such as connectors, harnesses, rope, etc. Nevertheless, many emerging products may or may not clearly fall under the umbrella of one of these testing and certifying bodies, and trade organizations like ACCT can be instrumental in establishing requirements or finding a home for these products.
Ryan: I believe there is room in the industry for more than one standard. I personally like the model of one standard for commercial operations and a different standard for non-commercial operations. Some of the regulations that go along with commercial operations in certain areas make it cost-prohibitive for educational-use courses to be installed and operated. It does not mean that the educational use operations would be less “safe” if they followed a different standard, it just means that they would be held to slightly different regulation. Most of the incidents that are happening in the industry are a result of human error and are not a fault of how things are designed, inspected, or regulated.
Tim: The existing standards of ACCT work if they are adhered to. Backyard builds need to go away. This is a fairly new industry, so there will be growing pains as we learn from our mistakes and make needed adjustments in standards and equipment to prevent incidents from recurring. The question is, will we continue to adhere to high standards and be self-governing, or let it slide and rely on the government to regulate? It would be better if we maintain high standards and keep professional collaboration going. Government regulation is the best way to slow or stop the growth of the industry.
Paul: I don’t think it needs one, but I think that will be the way it ends up eventually.