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majid_sabet


Feb 3, 2010, 5:30 PM
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$50,000 fine over climbing accident
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Former Olympic kayaking champion Ian Ferguson's Rock-n-Kayak company has been fined $50,000 after a 13-year-old girl was seriously injured when she fell nearly nine metres from a climbing wall.

The Department of Labour, which laid the charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, said the accident was "easily preventable".

http://www.stuff.co.nz/...er-climbing-accident


Partner j_ung


Feb 3, 2010, 6:16 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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In reply to:
"No beginner should expect to be injured during a recreational experience on an artificial wall."

I don't know the details of the accident. It may very well be that the facility was mostly at fault. However, I can't even begin to describe how horrible, ironic and straight wrong this statement is to me. IMO, on the contrary, climbing gyms should do everything in their power to ensure people believe the exact opposite -- that being injured or killed is a very real possibility.


nkane


Feb 3, 2010, 6:50 PM
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Re: [j_ung] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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First, the fine is in New Zealand dollars, which is like play money, right?

Second, NZ has an administrative tort system, similar to Worker's Comp in the US - compensation for accidents is determined by an administrative agency, not the courts. http://en.wikipedia.org/...ensation_Corporation

I remember them awarding reparation to a person who fell in an ice climbing accident a few years ago - I wonder if the NZ system is institutionally hostile to climbing, or if these are isolated cases.


NCcrew


Feb 3, 2010, 7:42 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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Exactly there is nothing that points that an indoor facility is any easier for a beginner whether they are there for recreation or competition, accidents can happen any time to anyone....

Also why take up rowing after such an accident? I row and it is the most painful experience you will ever go through, especially on the joints....


shockabuku


Feb 3, 2010, 8:21 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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Wow, I would never have guessed New Zealand is so different from the US (or, in other words, f$cked up).


ClimbClimb


Feb 3, 2010, 8:48 PM
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Re: [j_ung] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
In reply to:
"No beginner should expect to be injured during a recreational experience on an artificial wall."

I don't know the details of the accident. It may very well be that the facility was mostly at fault. However, I can't even begin to describe how horrible, ironic and straight wrong this statement is to me. IMO, on the contrary, climbing gyms should do everything in their power to ensure people believe the exact opposite -- that being injured or killed is a very real possibility.

I wasn't able to find details of the accident. Has anyone?
However, the company did plead guilty to "failing to do everything possible to keep a customer safe".

I don't want to get banned for life, but I am not sure I agree with you, j_ung, for the following reason -- this was a school trip, and this was a 13 y/o. Everything you said makes sense if this was an 18 y/o walking in off the street. But the various "intro to climbing school trip" events make it really hard to figure out who is consenting for what, who is assuming responsibility for what, and set a different expectation of safety than a normal, individual encounter with the sport. The same is true of resort "discover scuba" classes, and many other "recreational adventure" undertakings. Presumably they were taking an abbreviated safety class, or perhaps even getting belayed by the gym's staff. In that environment, even my expectation for injry would be different than normal, nevermind that of a 13 y/o on a school trip or her parents.


Partner j_ung


Feb 4, 2010, 7:35 AM
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Re: [ClimbClimb] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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ClimbClimb wrote:
j_ung wrote:
In reply to:
"No beginner should expect to be injured during a recreational experience on an artificial wall."

I don't know the details of the accident. It may very well be that the facility was mostly at fault. However, I can't even begin to describe how horrible, ironic and straight wrong this statement is to me. IMO, on the contrary, climbing gyms should do everything in their power to ensure people believe the exact opposite -- that being injured or killed is a very real possibility.

I wasn't able to find details of the accident. Has anyone?
However, the company did plead guilty to "failing to do everything possible to keep a customer safe".

I don't want to get banned for life, but I am not sure I agree with you, j_ung, for the following reason -- this was a school trip, and this was a 13 y/o. Everything you said makes sense if this was an 18 y/o walking in off the street. But the various "intro to climbing school trip" events make it really hard to figure out who is consenting for what, who is assuming responsibility for what, and set a different expectation of safety than a normal, individual encounter with the sport. The same is true of resort "discover scuba" classes, and many other "recreational adventure" undertakings. Presumably they were taking an abbreviated safety class, or perhaps even getting belayed by the gym's staff. In that environment, even my expectation for injry would be different than normal, nevermind that of a 13 y/o on a school trip or her parents.

You're banned for life.

I took a resort dive class and, in so doing, fully understood that anything that could happen to any other diver could also happen to me. Some people think that just because they paid money or because they're doing something indoors, it's automatically safer. In some respects they're right, for example, they aren't going to get benighted in a thunderstorm in a gym. But to think that a 30-foot fall inside is going to hurt any less than a 30-foot outside is stupid to the point of being ridiculous.

Of course, aside from being ignorant about the details of the accident, I'm also ignorant of waivers and such in NZ. In the US, a parent is generally needed to sign one before a child can climb. In such a case, the parent better damned well be aware of the risks. If the parent refused to read a waiver and let the child participate in willful ignorance of the actual risks, then IMO the parent is responsible for the child's injury.

Of course, all this is moot if, let's say, a staff person dropped the climber. I'm not saying negligence never exists, you dig? My argument is not that the gym shouldn't have been fined. My argument is that the above quoted statement is an ignorant and dangerous way of thinking.


(This post was edited by j_ung on Feb 4, 2010, 7:38 AM)


lena_chita
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Feb 4, 2010, 9:17 AM
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Re: [ClimbClimb] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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ClimbClimb wrote:
j_ung wrote:
In reply to:
"No beginner should expect to be injured during a recreational experience on an artificial wall."

I don't know the details of the accident. It may very well be that the facility was mostly at fault. However, I can't even begin to describe how horrible, ironic and straight wrong this statement is to me. IMO, on the contrary, climbing gyms should do everything in their power to ensure people believe the exact opposite -- that being injured or killed is a very real possibility.

I wasn't able to find details of the accident. Has anyone?
However, the company did plead guilty to "failing to do everything possible to keep a customer safe".

I don't want to get banned for life, but I am not sure I agree with you, j_ung, for the following reason -- this was a school trip, and this was a 13 y/o. Everything you said makes sense if this was an 18 y/o walking in off the street. But the various "intro to climbing school trip" events make it really hard to figure out who is consenting for what, who is assuming responsibility for what, and set a different expectation of safety than a normal, individual encounter with the sport. The same is true of resort "discover scuba" classes, and many other "recreational adventure" undertakings. Presumably they were taking an abbreviated safety class, or perhaps even getting belayed by the gym's staff. In that environment, even my expectation for injry would be different than normal, nevermind that of a 13 y/o on a school trip or her parents.

In that case an easy solution is not to bring a busload of kids to a climbing gym on a school trip.

Being a parent, I understand... I really feel for the injured girl and her family. It is a very sad thing to happen.

And I understand that on a gut level, if your child is injured while in someone else's care/under someone else's supervision, the first impulse is to blame whoever was in charge at the time, and everyone who stood near them.

But, but... thinking? critically?

...sigh, what else is new.

And


dagibbs


Feb 4, 2010, 11:58 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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Wish there was enough information to judge what actually happened. Falling from 9m (30') is going to hurt, yup. But how did she fall from that far?

Improper belay by an employee?
Improper instruction to not climb without a belay?
Inadequate supervision? (How many kids? How many adults?)
Some piece of gym equipment failed?

I'm sorry it happened, but have no idea whether the award is reasonable or not.


wiki


Feb 4, 2010, 11:24 PM
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Re: [ClimbClimb] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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ClimbClimb wrote:
j_ung wrote:
In reply to:
"No beginner should expect to be injured during a recreational experience on an artificial wall."

I don't know the details of the accident. It may very well be that the facility was mostly at fault. However, I can't even begin to describe how horrible, ironic and straight wrong this statement is to me. IMO, on the contrary, climbing gyms should do everything in their power to ensure people believe the exact opposite -- that being injured or killed is a very real possibility.

I wasn't able to find details of the accident. Has anyone?

I think it was kept quiet while the investigation was going on and now no-one cares because the actual accident was months ago. This is a local gym and I don't think it made the papers at the time.


wiki


Feb 5, 2010, 1:02 AM
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Re: [nkane] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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nkane wrote:
First, the fine is in New Zealand dollars, which is like play money, right?

It is a very small fine -about 35,000 US dollars

nkane wrote:
Second, NZ has an administrative tort system, similar to Worker's Comp in the US - compensation for accidents is determined by an administrative agency, not the courts. http://en.wikipedia.org/...ensation_Corporation

Yep ACC is sort of like compulsory accident insurance more than anything else. You pay a levy in your taxes, car registration, etc...

nkane wrote:
I remember them awarding reparation to a person who fell in an ice climbing accident a few years ago - I wonder if the NZ system is institutionally hostile to climbing, or if these are isolated cases.

No, the system is not hostile to climbing. Any accident will be covered. New Zealand tends to be very proud of it's outdoor lifestyle! (We also have a heavily subsidised public health system - the current phase is anti-smoking and anti-obesity so climbing is almost encoureaged!)


JAB


Feb 16, 2010, 2:27 AM
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Re: [dagibbs] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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dagibbs wrote:
Wish there was enough information to judge what actually happened. Falling from 9m (30') is going to hurt, yup. But how did she fall from that far?

Improper belay by an employee?
Improper instruction to not climb without a belay?
Inadequate supervision? (How many kids? How many adults?)
Some piece of gym equipment failed?

I'm sorry it happened, but have no idea whether the award is reasonable or not.

A common cause for accidents in climbing gyms is wrongly tied knots, so let's throw that possibility in as well.


dagibbs


Feb 16, 2010, 7:37 AM
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Re: [JAB] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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JAB wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
Wish there was enough information to judge what actually happened. Falling from 9m (30') is going to hurt, yup. But how did she fall from that far?

Improper belay by an employee?
Improper instruction to not climb without a belay?
Inadequate supervision? (How many kids? How many adults?)
Some piece of gym equipment failed?

I'm sorry it happened, but have no idea whether the award is reasonable or not.

A common cause for accidents in climbing gyms is wrongly tied knots, so let's throw that possibility in as well.

True, but I'm guessing (from the context) that this was belay done by an employee (if belayed), therefor, improperly tied knot comes under improper belay by employee, because part of the job of being the paid belay-monkey is that you make sure your climber is properly tied in, or with children, the belay-monkey would even likely do the tie-in for the child.


dingus


Feb 16, 2010, 8:00 AM
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Re: [j_ung] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
Some people think that just because they paid money or because they're doing something indoors, it's automatically safer.

Me. Count me in that group. Climbing in the gym ought to be safer than outside. Simple statement.

In reply to:
In some respects they're right,

In most respects we are right.

In reply to:
for example, they aren't going to get benighted in a thunderstorm in a gym. But to think that a 30-foot fall inside is going to hurt any less than a 30-foot outside is stupid to the point of being ridiculous.

That's the trouble with strawman arguments.... they look ridiculous from either side of the equation.

In reply to:
My argument is that the above quoted statement is an ignorant and dangerous way of thinking.

If climbing gyms cannot provide a safe environment for paying beginners to experience some aspects of rock climbing then climbing gyms should not cater to beginners AT ALL

It is completely unreasonable for a beginner to even begin to understand the nature of climbing risk, much less make intelligent decisions about it.

How does a beginner tell a safe gym environment from an unsafe one?

"let the buyer beware" seems completely unsuited to gyms and beginners.

DMT


patto


Feb 16, 2010, 12:28 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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A couple of points:

This wasn't a law suit. The waivers signed make no difference. This was a fine and reparation issue by a government body.

There is a good chance that the gym did NOTHING wrong. The Department of Labour in applying the Health and Safety in Employment Act is of the attitude that NOBODY should get injured in the work place. The notion of acceptable risk is almost non existant.

So from the DoL's point of view. Somebody was badly injured = failure in safety systems = fine for failure. There is no detail in the article but I would not begin to assume the belay was done by an employee.


raingod


Feb 16, 2010, 12:49 PM
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Re: [patto] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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patto wrote:
...
There is a good chance that the gym did NOTHING wrong. The Department of Labour in applying the Health and Safety in Employment Act is of the attitude that NOBODY should get injured in the work place. The notion of acceptable risk is almost non existant.

So from the DoL's point of view. Somebody was badly injured = failure in safety systems = fine for failure. There is no detail in the article but I would not begin to assume the belay was done by an employee.

I thought this was a 13 year old on a school trip? So I don't understand this talk of workplace injury.

And if the child was not belayed by an employee then the gym definately did something wrong. As no beginner in this context should be tied in or belaying without the direct supervision of an employee.


patto


Feb 16, 2010, 1:01 PM
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Re: [raingod] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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raingod wrote:
I thought this was a 13 year old on a school trip? So I don't understand this talk of workplace injury.
It happened at a workplace so presumably it comes under the umbrella of a workplace injury. The body issuing the fine certainly thought so anyway.

raingod wrote:
And if the child was not belayed by an employee then the gym definately did something wrong. As no beginner in this context should be tied in or belaying without the direct supervision of an employee.
Accidents can still happen even with direct supervision.


Partner j_ung


Feb 19, 2010, 12:21 PM
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Re: [dingus] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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dingus wrote:
j_ung wrote:
Some people think that just because they paid money or because they're doing something indoors, it's automatically safer.

Me. Count me in that group. Climbing in the gym ought to be safer than outside. Simple statement.

In reply to:
In some respects they're right,

In most respects we are right.

In reply to:
for example, they aren't going to get benighted in a thunderstorm in a gym. But to think that a 30-foot fall inside is going to hurt any less than a 30-foot outside is stupid to the point of being ridiculous.

That's the trouble with strawman arguments.... they look ridiculous from either side of the equation.

In reply to:
My argument is that the above quoted statement is an ignorant and dangerous way of thinking.

If climbing gyms cannot provide a safe environment for paying beginners to experience some aspects of rock climbing then climbing gyms should not cater to beginners AT ALL

It is completely unreasonable for a beginner to even begin to understand the nature of climbing risk, much less make intelligent decisions about it.

How does a beginner tell a safe gym environment from an unsafe one?

"let the buyer beware" seems completely unsuited to gyms and beginners.

DMT

Hmm... not sure how my argument qualifies as a straw man.

Anyway, maybe they shouldn't cater to beginners, then. Because, no matter how much they want to and how hard they try, a gym can't guarantee the safety of a patron walking across the floor, let alone hanging 30 feet in the air. It's impossible and, I think, common sense. That's why they have waivers, classes, padding, belay tests, orientation sessions, warning signs, staff applying draconian rules across the board...

Edit: Okay, maybe not common sense...


(This post was edited by j_ung on Feb 19, 2010, 12:22 PM)


squierbypetzl
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Feb 19, 2010, 2:19 PM
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Re: [dingus] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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dingus wrote:
If climbing gyms cannot provide a safe environment for paying beginners to experience some aspects of rock climbing then climbing gyms should not cater to beginners AT ALL

It is completely unreasonable for a beginner to even begin to understand the nature of climbing risk, much less make intelligent decisions about it.

How does a beginner tell a safe gym environment from an unsafe one?

"let the buyer beware" seems completely unsuited to gyms and beginners.

I partially agree with you, but I also agree with a statement from a british courts verdict, on the subject of civil liability on behalf of a climbing gym after a beginner backflipped off the wall, fell, and was left paralyzed from the neck down by the resulting fall. The court found the gym did in no way fail to adhere to safety regulations and common sense, and though lamentable, the accident was fully the fault of the climber.

"There should be no duty to explain the obvious to a consenting adult".


The above doesn´t apply to this specific case, but it does reflect my view on holding people accountable for their voluntary actions, even beginners.


desertwanderer81


Feb 19, 2010, 4:39 PM
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Re: [JAB] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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JAB wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
Wish there was enough information to judge what actually happened. Falling from 9m (30') is going to hurt, yup. But how did she fall from that far?

Improper belay by an employee?
Improper instruction to not climb without a belay?
Inadequate supervision? (How many kids? How many adults?)
Some piece of gym equipment failed?

I'm sorry it happened, but have no idea whether the award is reasonable or not.

A common cause for accidents in climbing gyms is wrongly tied knots, so let's throw that possibility in as well.

It's a common cause for accidents in a climbing gym?

I would have thought that it would be on the bottom of the list. But I see how it's possible with beginners to be further up.


ClimbClimb


Feb 19, 2010, 8:26 PM
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Re: [desertwanderer81] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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desertwanderer81 wrote:
JAB wrote:
A common cause for accidents in climbing gyms is wrongly tied knots, so let's throw that possibility in as well.
It's a common cause for accidents in a climbing gym?
I would have thought that it would be on the bottom of the list. But I see how it's possible with beginners to be further up.

Having personally seen someone take a free fall from the top of a wall at my climbing gym (she was either not tied in or perhaps just had her belay device threaded through) -- a sight I'd rather not see again -- I believe it's far more frequent than it seems. That's also why gyms insist on "backups" to the figure-8's, it's not so much about the knot slipping, as it is about ensuring things get put together right.


desertwanderer81


Feb 19, 2010, 8:44 PM
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Re: [ClimbClimb] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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ClimbClimb wrote:
desertwanderer81 wrote:
JAB wrote:
A common cause for accidents in climbing gyms is wrongly tied knots, so let's throw that possibility in as well.
It's a common cause for accidents in a climbing gym?
I would have thought that it would be on the bottom of the list. But I see how it's possible with beginners to be further up.

Having personally seen someone take a free fall from the top of a wall at my climbing gym (she was either not tied in or perhaps just had her belay device threaded through) -- a sight I'd rather not see again -- I believe it's far more frequent than it seems. That's also why gyms insist on "backups" to the figure-8's, it's not so much about the knot slipping, as it is about ensuring things get put together right.

Wait, if you saw it happen.... how do you not know if the person was not tied in or if the belay device wasn't threaded?


ClimbClimb


Feb 19, 2010, 8:59 PM
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Re: [desertwanderer81] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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desertwanderer81 wrote:
Wait, if you saw it happen.... how do you not know if the person was not tied in or if the belay device wasn't threaded?

I didn't phrase that well. The person was not connected to the rope when she hit the ground. Whether the knot came loose or was never even attached (i.e., in her belay device from previous belaying session) is unclear -- although I heard from someone later that it was the latter. I should also say that the vicitm appeared relatively OK later, walking/sitting.

Anyway, my point is just that not being tied in happens. And I think gyms know it does. And if they were running a school program for 12-14 year olds, they should've triple-checked they were tied in.


desertwanderer81


Feb 19, 2010, 9:23 PM
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Re: [ClimbClimb] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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ahhh, that makes much more sense.

I don't know, I am well aware that it's possible. However, I am going to guess it's still very rare. It's my guess that people get dropped by belayers far more frequently than not tieing a knot to their harness.


clintcummins


Feb 20, 2010, 4:24 PM
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Re: [ClimbClimb] $50,000 fine over climbing accident [In reply to]
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A few more details, but not quite enough:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/...-stars-company-fined

"She fell 8m to the floor below because a rope had not been properly secured."
(so she was roped)

"Judge Behrens said each student was shown how to fasten the harness, tie on and belay (tying a rope around someone to secure them). However, the company did not ensure each understood the instructions they had been given. The company has since revised its procedures."
(sounds like a lack of supervision)

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