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How Can Hemp Flying Be Legal?

Ken Coker

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Dear All


Given that by their very nature hemp sets cannot be made to "failsafe", how can they be legal?

Secondly, when I rig a truss on soft slings I have to steel it off. Does anyone do this to hemp sets? (Or has anyone ever been asked to do this?)






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What is 'safe'?

Yawn....... the employer or self employed person or person in control of the premises (just about covers it?) is required in law to reduce risks to an acceptable level, .......end of yawn.

As safe as you can make it after due consideration of the actual risks (as opposed to the perceived ones) in the given circumstances, always qualified by 'if you are not sure don't do it'.


Technical Standards, ABTT Code of Practice and the forthcoming BS Code of Practice all recommend 'steeling off' hemp sets if there is a risk of combustion of fibre ropes.


We need to start being a bit robust about this safety stuff, chaps.

Know the job in hand, the materials and the actual hazards and attendant risks.

You should surely then be either confident in defending your position or doing it a different way.

There's no shame in it.

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Given that all my lifting gear is inspected for insurance every six and/or twelve months and is given a user inspection each time it is used, would it be a defendable position to say that when there is no risk of fire I need not steel my truss off? Other factors to consider are that the trussing is fabulously over specified for the load it usually has to carry as are the hoists - and there are a number of factors beyond these.


"Due consideration should be given to forseeable emergencies and the provision of adequate facilities" Am I to forsee that part of the system might fail, or am I to say that my test/inspection engineer says it would be most unlikely if it did?


I am aware that most H&S law is non-proscriptive and, indeed, benefits from being so as this helps spread a culture of H&S rather than a culture of ticking boxes without thinking about it.


I would hasten to point out , for the benefit of anyone standing under anything rigged by me this Yuletide, that I follow what would be regarded as standard practice when it comes to secondary suspension!!


Anycase, off to rig a pub for a dentist's Xmas party


Happy Xmas and a safe and prosperous New Year to all of Santa's Lampies, Riggers, Sound Engineers and even Stage Management - and if anyone fancies a climb on Xmas Day I'll be on Stanage doing Christmas Crack at about 1100





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  • 2 weeks later...

Your kit needs to be inspected by a competent person at least every 6/12 months/in accordance with a formal inspection scheme to be LOLER compliant.

This may not be what the insurance man is doing, he may only be surveying his company's risk. I would check.

Some will give you a 'report of thorough examination' as LOLER requires there to be, some won't. I have encountered this several times.

It is the employer's duty to ensure the gear is safe for you to use, not the the insurance company's and you may need to use other people as well to satisfy the requirements of LOLER.


However, with regard to the secondaries on your truss, I would need to see the geometry of the rigged truss, and assess the risk of failure due to fire, load, whatever, show by show, as I assume you do already.

Are you aware how your truss or suspension points will/may behave when one of the foreseeable modes of failure occurs?

If a span becomes a cantilever, or the centre point fails and doubles the span, if the rigging point takes a doubled dynamic load when the other end fails, etc.etc..


One's experience, engineering and product knowledge, optimism/pessimism, maintenence regime and general arse-covering vs. budget thinking is the decider.


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