FAQ's : Professional Ropes Course Association
18) Is it true that another association has voted to appeal the ANSI Board of Standards (BSR) approval of the American National Standard (ANS) and what effect will this have on the American National Standard (ANS)?
We recognize that industry standards reflect the core values, goals and potential achievements of an industry. Industry standards drive culture, practices and future outcomes.
This American National Standard (ANS) is intended to be inclusive. It recognizes and values the contributions that all stakeholders make to the future success of our industry. Its purpose is to promote the collective interests of all stakeholders in the industry and to create opportunities for greater industry self-determination.
We envision an industry that expands the capacity of all stakeholders to participate in co-creating a future that is safe, inclusive, inviting, empowering and prosperous.
ANSI’s approval of this new ANS creates an open moment for our industry, the likes of which we haven’t seen for the last 21 years. We are presented with an exciting and historic opportunity to redefine our industry and work together to build a brighter, more inclusive and sustainable future for all of us who are passionate about these adventure activities.
We invite all industry stakeholders, everyone who has an interest in the future success of our industry, to join us in creating a new and brighter future together.
The ANSI/PRCA 1.0-.3 2014 Standard is the ANSI American National Standard (ANS) for the rope challenge course, zip line and aerial adventure park industry. The ACCT Standard is a voluntary standard and NOT an ANSI standard. Any attempt by others to “spin” this fact is solely based on conjecture and opinion.
- Industry Self-Determination.
- Our industry had several de facto standards each being recognized by various parties. The need for one standard became evident with the increase in the size and scope of the industry which began to draw attention from government regulators and litigators too.
- One American National Standard became the goal.
- The industry standards should be developed solely for the purpose of benefiting the broader industry (they should contribute to greater safety for workers and consumers) and not for promotion of small interest groups. The PRCA realized that the most widely used standards were developed for the purpose of promoting and securing a competitive advantage for a small group of vendors. These standards, while valuable for their time, have served to secure a competitive advantage for these vendors, ensuring that they are (almost) the sole source for work, inspection and training in this industry for far too long. There is no evidence that these standards have increased safety for the greater industry. Rather, these standards include major flaws – i.e. This small industry group has told its customers that there is no need to comply with certain federal regulations (requirements) and that they may also disregard manufacturer specifications and safety alerts; a sure basis for losing a lawsuit in case someone is injured. Furthermore, we believe that industry standards that are created for the purpose of self-promotion result in the tendency for the creators to develop a sense of entitlement, causing the creators to believe that the standards were created for them to follow, or ignore, as they see fit. In at least one recent case this culture of entitlement seems to have caused the death of a vendor’s employee and major injuries to another as a result of a zipline tower collapsing.
- Recognition that many, if not a majority of courses have “qualified” and “competent” staff that are fully capable of training their own people, have the necessary expertise to perform inspections and have sufficient resources to enable them to safely build course elements that meet standards.
- By using the American National Standards Institute for the standards for the industry, we have an internationally recognized and respected third party overview of the standard’s process. This prevents any one organization or group of members from controlling or eliminating other people. The ANSI process requires the standards creation, adoption and enactment be open to any and all persons interested in the industry.
- These are the reasons that the PRCA was the first to begin the process in 2005.
- American National Standards are voluntary unless they have been referenced in regulatory language. However, insurance companies, the Courts and even OSHA expect businesses to follow or exceed a safety based ANS if it exists for their industry..
- The application of an ANSI ANS varies from state to state – Each state defines how much weight should be applied to meet an ANSI standard. In some states the ANS is considered to be proof and/or rebuttal, in others it is considered a presumption.
- Courts in various states have commented on the ANSI standards below:
- Illinois Appellate Court “if relevant, the ANSI standards could be used as evidence of the custom or practice within [***11] an industry.” Leavitt v. Farwell Tower Ltd. 252 Ill. App. 3d 260; 625 N.E.2d 48; 1993 Ill. App. LEXIS 917; 192 Ill. Dec. 88US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
- US Appellant Court “NOTE: An industry standard, promulgated by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and accredited by the American National Standards Institute (an "ASME/ANSI standard"), expressly states that "[f]reight elevators shall not be permitted to carry passengers." American Standard Safety Code for Elevators, Dumbwaiters, Escalators and Moving Walks A17.1-1965, Rule 207.4 (Am. Soc'y of Mech. Engineers 1965). HN4Go to this Headnote in the case. Violating that standard by permitting customers on the freight elevator is evidence of negligence.” Johnson v. The Bon-Ton Department Stores, Inc., 278 Fed. Appx. 56; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 10920.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit “evidence of compliance with ANSI standards bears on the question of whether a product contains a design defect. See Miller v. Yazoo Mfg Co., 26 F.3d 81, 82-84 (8th Cir. 1994) (applying Missouri substantive law). The District Court was therefore well within its discretion in admitting the evidence.” The standard. . DiCarlo v. Keller Ladders, Inc.; 211 F.3d 465; 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 8459; 54 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 718; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P15,793 (James Moss)
- OSHA has cited employers under the “general duty” clause (providing a hazard free workplace) for not having following an American National Standard that addressed the issue/hazard.
- ANSI President Joe Bhatia recently told ANSI that “OMB Circular A-119, together with the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), directs U.S. federal agencies to consider the use of private-sector-developed standards in lieu of government-unique standards whenever possible, and establishes policies on that usage.” (OMB – White House Office of Management & Budget)
5) What about States/jurisdictions where non-ANSI American National Standards (ANS), such as the old PRCA standards, have been cited in regulations?
- States and jurisdictions where these standards were referenced in regulations also use the phrasing “or equivalent” this is typically utilized to address the fact that these standards are not ANSs. or ASTM.
- When the ANS for that industry comes along it is typically recognized by the States and other jurisdictions as a replacement for and superseding the previous de facto standards.
- It typically takes time for regulatory bodies to make notifications of the change to regulations however, have a suit filed or have a regulatory citation issued and see which standard they go by. The one recognized by ANSI (recognized by the States and Federal Government as the source for industry standards as seen in the above question) or by a non-ANSI standard which may conflict with the ANSI approved American National Standard.
6) Why does this set of standards become more important to follow than the previous PRCA standards and/or ACCT standards?
As more states, businesses and insurance companies learn about the current ANSI/PRCA standards, these standards will be incorporated into their requirements. Eventually, adoption of the ANSI standards by your business will assist you in:
- Situations where OSHA might regard your failure to adopt an ANS related to an OSHA requirement (e.g. fall protection) as evidence that you didn’t take reasonable steps to comply with an industry ANS and provide a safe workplace.
- Help substantiate efforts to provide reasonable duty of care in court and to regulators.
- Help keep your insurances rates down by demonstrating compliance with an ANSI ANS.
- Save your business thousands of dollars in training, certification and other costs.
7) How was the ANSI approved American National Standard created?
- In 2005 ANSI accredited the PRCA as the first Accredited Standard Developer (ASD) for our industry.
- All members of the industry at that time were invited to join with the PRCA and work on the standards.
- Work began in earnest to create fair and balanced consensus standards that represent the interests of the industry at large.
- The consensus body was populated with vendors, users, manufacturers, general users and government regulators -- Anyone who wanted to work on the standards, and no one was turned away
- Initially the draft standards were an amalgamation of the de facto standards of the time with the parts that required courses to use vendors for all training, certifications, inspections, and so forth being removed and revised to allow the industry to control itself.
- This use of both industry de facto standards ensured that all of the voices that have created these standards over the years were heard and were responded to.
- Over the 9 years of development a multitude of people throughout the industry volunteered to help develop the standards, subject matter experts were sought out or they voluntarily stepped-up to assist. Professional vendors/operators from other associations and the general industry also contributed.
- These standards and the resulting changes were put out for four separate public reviews with over a thousand comments received; the vast majority of which were incorporated into your standards. The standards were also aligned with European standards, Australia/New Zealand standards / draft standards, current State and Federal regulations and accreditation materials from groups such as AEE and ACA.
8) Did the PRCA steal their standards from ACCT or other associations?
- The basis for the standards existed in the public domain long before ANY association laid claim to represent the industry. The PRCA standards grew from these industry roots and original sources.
9) How does ANSI approve an American National Standard?
- Approval of an American National Standard requires review by the ANSI Board of Standards Review (BSR) committee. A voluntary group, consisting of people from throughout the standard developer community reviews the developer’s submission to see that the ANSI requirements for due process, consensus, and other criteria for approval have been met by the standards developer.
- Consensus is established when, in the judgment of the ANSI BSR, substantial agreement has been reached by directly and materially affected interests. Substantial agreement means much more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity. Consensus requires that all views and objections be considered, and that a concerted effort be made toward achieving their resolution.
- Once the ANSI BSR has determined that the standard developer has meet the letter and intent of the ANSI Essential Requirements for Due Process and has followed its own ANSI Accredited Procedures, then, the standard approval is balloted. An affirmative vote results in the approval of the document as an American National Standard.
- Discussing approved ANSs former ANSI Vice President and General Counsel Amy Marasco stated “ANSI’s approval of these standards is intended to verify that the principles of openness and due process have been followed and that a consensus of all interested parties has been reached”.
10) Does the PRCA control the industry’s ANSI American National Standard?
- No, the industry controls the ANSI/PRCA 1.0-.3 – 2014 standard
- The PRCA is only the Secretariat of the ANS. This means that the PRCA is the administrator of the ANS as per the requirements of ANSI.
- The PRCA designed the procedures and system to be controlled by you, the industry as a whole. The standards were created, and are continually revised and interpreted by a consensus body called the Standards Committee; this committee is open to all materially affected parties. In fact, now that the ANSI-PRCA standards have been approved, the real work will be performed by you! You will form (and join) committees whose purpose is to massage and harmonize the standards further, creating a standard that is even more reflective of the broader industry’s interests.
- The standards are managed by a Standard Management Committee comprised of single representatives of various Industry Associations who oversee the process and determine: when revisions are necessary, determine the review schedule and determine when the PRCA can submit the documents to ANSI for approval.
- It is in the industry’s best interest that your Association also becomes involved in this committee. If you want to become a member of the Standards Committee or are a representative of your Association and want to serve on the Standards Management Committee email the PRCA at email@example.com
11) What does the American National Standard (ANS) ANSI/PRCA 1.0-.3 – 2014 cover?
- The ANS covers the full span of our industry, challenge ropes courses (fixed and portable) canopy tours, zip lines and zip line tours, and aerial adventure parks.
- It addresses materials, fall protection, construction, inspection, operation, a training scheme to standardize training throughout the industry, course/entity issued certifications and many other issues we encounter.
- All while harmonizing where possible with existing standards here and abroad.
12) Why is the American National Standard so large?
- Thoroughness and ease of use.
- Ensuring your company’s or your own self determination
- Each standard section page is divided in half, one side for standards (mandatory) and one side for explanatory information (non-mandatory) meaning each page of standards is only half a page.
- The document is full of illustrations, tables, informational annexes, references, the training scheme tables, and so forth
- Absent the informational items that are included to help you comply with, and that provide direction for, regulatory agencies there are approximately seventy pages that consist of the actual standards.
- Seventy (70) pages is not large at all when you consider that this addresses manufacturing of quality materials for the courses, manufacturer testing of safety equipment, installation, inspection operations training and certification to a standardized national training scheme and addresses these issues for challenge courses, canopy tours, zip lines, zipline tours and aerial adventure parks!
13) How will this ANS affect my business?
You will save money. Under these standards, if you (or your staff) meet minimum qualifications you can train your own staff and you can designate your own third party inspectors.
You will have greater self-determination. These standards were designed to help you run and control your business yourself, not just concede to the wishes of a small group of vendors or the plaintiff in a lawsuit.
You will more easily manage and operate multi-state operations. Having an American National Standard means that you will find greater consistency between, across and among the 50 states in regard to application of standards and regulation of the industry.
- We all have some staff that we consider to be “qualified” and “competent” staff working for us. They haven’t necessarily worked for a “vendor” but they do have the knowledge, experience and expertise. Even better they have this knowledge, experience and expertise at your facility. You don’t have to win a popularity contest in order to be considered “qualified”
- Your employees who meet the requirements of the standards will now be recognized as qualified to conduct your trainings and you will be able to certify your own staff to an American National Standard training scheme to demonstrate that they have the same skills as others in their job description in the industry.
- Your qualified staff will be able to conduct inspections, effect repairs and other duties in accordance with the standards.
- You will have the technical information to ensure that your course is properly constructed and not have to rely on a small group of vendors.
- Should you have third party inspections and third party training? As a best practice yes; periodically, every couple of years, whatever, the cost savings will be there.
- Do you want a real “owners manual” for the course? Your independent builder has to provide one.
- Persons who want to train for more than one entity are required to be trained by third parties to a strict set of criteria which meets ISO and ANSI certification requirements.
14) How often might the American National Standard change?
- The ANSI/PRCA1.0-.3 – 2014 standards are maintained on a continuous basis. This means that they must be reviewed, revised, reaffirmed or withdrawn at least every five years. But we all know how fast our industry is changing, so continuous maintenance will likely mean more rapid revision cycle times.
- In order to facilitate inclusiveness, a comment form is included in the rear section of the standard. Anyone may submit the comment form with suggested changes. At least once a year the Standards Committee will review and consider the comments that are received; the Standards Committee will determine which, if any, changes are necessary; the Standard Management Committee will authorize those changes and they will be included in a new revision of the standard.
15) What if I need to know how to interpret it for my course’s, workers’ or clients’ needs?
- Requests for interpretations of a standard are sent in by email to firstname.lastname@example.org where they are passed on to the Standards Committee. These are the people who know the original intent of the various standards.
- Standards Committee will pass the interpretation on to the Standards Management Committee for review and approval.
- The Standard Management Committee then turns the interpretation over to the PRCA for publication.
- You will receive a direct email response and the official interpretation will be posted on the PRCA website for all to reference.
16) I am a member of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), were they involved in this process?
Yes, and No.
- Despite numerous dismissals of the ANSI requirements for openness and inclusion by the ACCT leadership, many professional vendor members, association officials and even the other association have contributed valuable public review comments, solicited and unsolicited material, and expertise to the development of the ANSI-PRCA ANS, helping to develop a true industry consensus standard.
- ACCT appealed to have the PRCA’s ANSI Accredited Standards Developer status revoked in 2005. On October 11, 2006, the ANSI Executive Standards Council (ExSC) denied all issues of their appeal (excepting one) and held that like all ANSI Accredited Standards Developers, the PRCA must recognize the ACCT or any association itself as a materially affected party. The ExSC also instructed both the ACCT and the PRCA to make and document efforts of cooperative standard development.
- In January 2006 and several times since, ACCT was invited by the PRCA leadership to have up to three members as representatives in various materially affected party categories on the Standards Committee. ACCT declined every one of these offers.
- PRCA offered to publish a joint 50/50 standard with the ACCT. A full membership survey was conducted and those responding agreed to try to work with ACCT on the ANS. Our leadership even had conversations about a possible merger of the two Associations with the other associations leadership — ACCT declined.
- ACCT was invited to include a representative from their organization, to join with the Standards Management Committee – ACCT declined.
- ACCT sought its own accreditation as a standard developer which was granted by ANSI; PRCA did not appeal their accreditation. However, we did officially comment on the fact that the standards would likely be conflicting and/or duplicative but ACCT never responded with the meeting that is mandated by ANSI to address the compelling need for a standard which would essentially duplicate and/or conflict with a previously announced candidate standard.
- Other associations that are ANSI Accredited Standard Developer now have a duty to make conscious efforts to ensure that their standard does not conflict with, nor duplicate, the ANSI approved American National Standard by the PRCA.
- Since 2006 the PRCA, as a materially affected party to the proposed ACCT standard, the PRCA has applied to have representatives on the ACCT Consensus Body, in order to cooperatively work together on the proposed standard, to avoid duplication and/or conflict and to develop a consensus-based standard that meets ANSI’s intent and directives. In every instance the ACCT has refused to allow PRCA representatives to become members of their Consensus Body -- Either as individuals or as association representatives for our members.
- The ANSI Board of Standard Review, in it’s review of the standards for approval, was provided with the documentation of the PRCA’s good faith efforts for cooperative standard development with ACCT. The ANSI BSR determined that our efforts to take this high road did meet the instructions set forth by the ANSI Executive Standard Council during the other association's 2006 appeal of the PRCA’s accreditation.
17) Is it true that ACCT appealed and “successfully prosecuted” an appeal within the PRCA’s process?
This statement is a little bit misleading and selective. Yes, ACCT filed an appeal through the PRCA process. In the initial stages of the appeal, ACCT complaints were denied. The final step involved a three person independent panel hearing, with 2 panel members chosen by ACCT directly.
The ACCT appeal cited three issues:
- First, an appeal of the PRCA’s process, the handling of review comment responses and an assertion that the Standards Committee never voted on the responses.
- Second, an appeal that alleged that the language utilized by the PRCA in regards to appeal fees was subject to misunderstanding and discouraged commenters from appealing the findings of the Standards Committee.
- Third, an appeal that alleged that the PRCA had accepted a number of substantive changes to the standards but did not submit the entire standard for another public review only putting the changes out for public review.
- On the first issue the independent panel, in finding no violation of PRCA procedures or the ANSI “Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American
National Standards”, found for the PRCA stating “the actions of the subcommittee review group were, in fact, confirmed and ratified by the consensus body”.
- On the second issue the independent panel found for the other association stating that the language “may have had a chilling effect on other prospective appellants involved in reviewing proposed draft standard ANSI‑PRCA 1.1 ‑ .3 – 2012 in this appeal, and that it may have constituted a potential barrier to participation”. The panel directed the PRCA to extend another appeal period to all commenters that had received the notice with the misunderstood language. The PRCA immediately conducted another appeal period for all of those commenters without receiving any appeals of the comment responses or their resolutions.
- On the third issue the independent panel found for the PRCA stating “The Appeal panel confirms that all substantive changes are required to be circulated for public review at some point in the process, but this does not obligate the PRCA to circulate the entire standard again, only those substantive changes made in response to the prior public review”.
18) Is it true that ACCT voted to appeal the ANSI Board of Standards (BSR) approval of the American National Standard (ANS) and what effect will this have on the American National Standard (ANS)?
- Yes, ACCT Board of Directors and the Professional Vendor Members did vote to appeal the BSR’s approval of the ANS.
- This is an appeal to ANSI directly. The BSR has reviewed the PRCA’s procedures twice, they found only one initial correction related to the specific wording vs. the intent of a procedure. This resulted in the formation of three person independent appeal panel hearings described in an answer provided above.
- In approving the standard the BSR has found that the PRCA has complied with its’ PRCA Accredited Procedures, the “ANSI Essential Requirements: Due Process Requirements for American National Standards” and the 2006 decision of the Executive Standards Council.
19) How should I respond to this American National Standard (ANS)?
- If you want to avoid the potential of successful lawsuits and regulatory citations and enjoy the benefits of training your own staff, inspecting etc., then support and adopt this American National Standard for use at your facilities.
- Notify other industry professionals and regulators of the benefits of the standard and the need to adopt and reference it.
- If you hear of a public review for another association draft standard, get involved, provide comments where you see duplications and/or conflicts with the ANS or where you see individual standards that take away your rights to self determination or to be considered a “qualified” or “competent” professional, instructor, facilitator, designer, inspector, etc..
- Encourage other associations to be responsible and work with you, the PRCA Standards Committee and the Standard Management Committee on further development and recognition of the ANS ANSI/PRCA 1.0-.3 – 2014.
- Creation of another ANS for the industry will only bring us back to the two standards scenario that will, once again, foment confusion and conflict in standards, regulations, insurance coverage, courts and possibly restrict who you can use as a vendor.
20) How much does the American National Standard (ANS) cost?
The Glossary, Section 1.0, is chock full of information and is available to anyone as a free download at www.prcainfo.org (you must click yes to the PRCA License Agreement to get the ANS download).
- Individual PRCA members receive one free download of the standards for their own use only.
- Organizational PRCA Members receive a license to one free download and may duplicate up to three more copies of the standards for use in their organization only.
- PRCA Accredited Vendors and PRCA Accredited Courses receive a license to one free download and may duplicate up to four more copies of the standards for use in their organization only.
- Non-member downloads of the ANS cost $125.00; hard copies have an additional minimal fee.
- The ANS will also be available as a download through the ANSI Standards Store for $125.00. Full ANSI members receive a discount of 20% ($100.00).
21) We are a large organization and need multiple copies of the American National Standard (ANS). How do we get these?
Organizations that need more than four copies of the ANS should email the PRCA at email@example.com Explain how many copies you need, electronic or hard, and provide a contact number where we can call you back and discuss multiple copy licensing discounts.
22) What if I want a hard copy of the American National Standard (ANS)?
- When you directly purchase or as a member download the ANS you are licensed to print out one hard copy for your individual use, three for an organizational member and four for a PRCA Accredited Vendor or Course.
- If you are a member or a non-member paying full price and want an additional hard copy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you with information about how to obtain the hard copy. Hard copies have a minimal additional charge. (Trying to save trees for courses).