Updated Australian Standards for Rope Access

 In Height Safety News, IRATA International

ISO 22846 supersedes AS/NZS 4488 (1997)

At long last, IRATA Australasia has been successful in having AS/NZS 4488 replaced with the ISO 22846 standard.

4488 part 1 status is withdrawn and can therefore still be accessed.

Known in Australia as AS/NZS ISO 22846 parts 1 & 2 are now the Rope Access standards for Australia and New Zealand.

Huge thank you to the Australian Standards SF015 Committee members and company representatives who have championed this change over the last few years!

ISO 22846-1:2003 gives the fundamental principles for the use of rope access methods for work at height. It is intended for use by employers, employees and self-employed persons who use rope-access methods, by those commissioning rope-access work and by rope-access associations. ISO 22846-1 is applicable to the use of rope-access methods on buildings, other structures (on- or offshore) or natural features (such as cliff faces), during which ropes are suspended from or connected to a structure or natural feature. It is applicable to situations where ropes are used as the primary means of access, egress or support and as the primary means of protection against a fall. ISO 22846-1 is not intended to apply to the use of rope-access methods for leisure activities, arboriculture, general steeplejack methods or emergency personal-evacuation systems, or to the use of rope-access (line rescue) techniques by the fire brigade and other emergency services for rescue work or for rescue training.

ISO 22846 – Personal equipment for protection against falls — Rope Access systems

Part 1: Fundamental principles for a system of work.

This part of ISO 22846 is intended for use by all persons concerned with the use of rope access, including operatives, specifiers, managers, rope access supervisors, purchasing personnel, trainers, clients and regulatory authorities. Users are reminded always to take into account the entire system and not just the component parts.

Part – Code of practice.

To ensure a rope access system operates correctly, at least the following factors are important:
  • system management and planning;
  • competence of the operatives and correct team composition;
  • equipment selection, use and maintenance;
  • proper organization and execution of working methods.
There can also be other issues to consider, depending upon the nature and location of the work, the competence and experience of operatives and possible local or regional legal requirements.
A failure or shortcoming in any of the above can render the entire system deficient.

The Background

For the last several years, the Rope Access user Standards AS4488 Parts 1 and 2 have been considered by the Australian Rope Access fraternity (IRATA and ARAA) to be obsolete.

The Rope Access community requested time and time again to have it made obsolete and replaced with the adoption of ISO 22846; a request that was initially rejected by the Australian Standards SF015 Committee on the basis that the existing Standard covered some ancillary equipment – e.g. helmets.

AS4488 Parts 1 and 2 were renewed for a 2 year period while appropriate equipment in AS4488 will be added to AS/NZS1891.6 – Ancillary Equipment – and the review of the AS/NZS 1891 series has taken substantial time and effort to revise.  But it was determined that at that point, ISO 22846 will be adopted and AS4488 will be made obsolete.


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  • Luke Creighton

    Cheers for the update Debora. I was just given the task to explain why we use IRATA standards and not Australian standards to a large mining company, I was unaware of the update to the standards until reading this and I’ve pasted your article on. Hope you’re doing well since breaking off on your own from 5th point

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