Paul Seddon Retires from IRATA en


After many years of exceptional service to the rope access industry, particularly with IRATA, Paul Seddon OBE has unfortunately reached the stage of his planned retirement.

Paul first stepped into the world of work at height through his interest in the outdoors. He started rock climbing in 1954, which has seen him climb across Europe, to the US and Kenya. Paul actively sought out new challenges and took up caving in 1975, which led to partaking in 11 expeditions to various parts of the world; from France to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, China and Oman.

Paul’s active lifestyle led him into the manufacturing and selling of rock climbing equipment in 1964. Initially, the equipment was made so a few friends and he could complete new climbing routes in their local area. This developed into a small business, selling his equipment via climbing outlets throughout the UK, and then overseas. From this, Paul’s career was steered deeper into work at height. He merged his small business with that of two climbing colleagues in 1971, becoming a partner and then later a director of Troll Safety Equipment Ltd, including being the quality director, from 1977 until 1995.

With the advent of cavers and climbers using their skills in an industrial setting, industrial rope access was born. Industrial rope access had the stigma of “dangling dangerously on thin ropes” in the eyes of most Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors at that time. However, there were a few proponents of rope access within the HSE and, with their help and advice, access using two ropes (or lines) became the norm and the IRATA system came into being. The draft guidelines for rope access used in industry were written by an HSE inspector, which was then developed into the first edition of the IRATA guidelines by a few IRATA members, including Paul.

Throughout his career, Paul was involved in a plethora of IRATA and other committees (see list below), which helped shape the health and safety regulations for all work at height professionals. Most notably, Paul was the convenor of the IRATA International Code of Practice (ICOP) Development and Review Panel, and chairman of the Height Safety Committee of the Safety Equipment Association (industrial safety). On many occasions, Paul has stated that his goal has been to make the workplace a safer environment for all workers at height, and in 2004 his work within the rope access industry was rewarded with an OBE. In the same year, Paul was made an honorary lifetime member of IRATA for his longstanding contribution.

Although they remain in close contact, IRATA reluctantly has to say goodbye to Paul and wish him an undoubtedly active retirement.

List of committees on which Paul has served

IRATA International
Founder member via Troll Safety Equipment Ltd
First chairman of the Equipment Committee
Past member of the Executive Committee
Past member of the Equipment and Health and Safety Committee
Convenor of the ICOP Development and Review Panel
Member of the Equipment and Standards Committee (including ICOP and RAMRASS)

International Union of Alpine Associations (UIAA)
Member of the UIAA Safety Commission: Standard covered: UIAA 105 Harnesses

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Member of ISO/TC 94/SC 4 Personal safety – Protective clothing and equipment, Subcommittee SC 4: Personal equipment for protection against falls
Member of ISO/TC 94/SC 4/WG 1. Standards covered: ISO 10333 series (Parts 1 to 6) Personal fall-arrest systems: ISO 10333-1: Full-body harnesses; ISO 10333-2: Lanyards and energy absorbers; ISO 10333-3: Self-retracting lifelines; ISO 10333-4: Vertical rails and vertical lifelines incorporating a sliding-type fall arrester; ISO 10333-5: Connectors; ISO 10333-6: System performance tests; ISO 14567: Personal protective equipment for protection against falls from a height — Single-point anchor devices
Member of ISO/TC 94/SC 4/WG 3. Standard covered: ISO 16024: Personal protective equipment for protection against falls from a height — Flexible horizontal lifeline systems
Member of ISO/TC 94/SC 4/WG 6. Standards covered: ISO 22846: Personal equipment for protection against falls — Rope access systems — Part 1: Fundamental principles for a system of work; Part 2: Code of practice
Convenor of ISO/TC 94/SC 4/WG 7. Standard covered: ISO 22159 Personal equipment for protection against falls — Descending devices

Committee for European Standards (CEN)
Member of CEN/TC 136/WG 5 Mountaineering and climbing equipment. Standards covered: EN 892: Dynamic mountaineering ropes; EN 564: Accessory cords; EN 565: Tape; EN 566: Slings; EN 959: Rock anchors; EN 12277: Harnesses
Member of CEN/TC 160 Protection against falls from a height including working belts
Member of CEN/TC 160/WG 1. Standards covered: EN 795: Anchor devices; EN 364: Test methods; EN 365: General requirements for Instructions for use, maintenance, periodic examination, repair, marking and packaging
Member of CEN/TC 160/WG 2. Standards covered: EN 353-1: Guided type fall arresters including a rigid anchor line; EN 353-2: Guided type fall arresters including a flexible anchor line; EN 354: Lanyards; EN 355: Energy absorbers; EN 360: Retractable type fall arresters; EN 361: Full body harnesses; EN 362: Connectors; EN 363: Fall arrest systems
Member of CEN/TC 160 WG 3 and Project Groups. Standards covered: EN 341: Descender devices for rescue; EN 358: Work positioning belts and lanyards; EN 813: Sit harnesses; EN 1891: Low stretch kernmantel ropes (Convenor); EN 12841: Rope adjustment devices
Member of CEN/TC 160 WG 5. Standards covered: EN 1496: Rescue lifting devices; EN 1497: Rescue harnesses; EN 1498: Rescue loops

British Standards Institution (BSI)
Member of BSI/PSM/33 Personal Standards Policy Committee. Standard covered: BS 7323: Sit harnesses for rock climbing (since withdrawn)
Member of BSI/PH 5 National Committee for Personal Fall Protection
Member of BSI/PH 5/Ad Hoc Working Group BS 7883: Code of practice for the design, selection, installation, use and maintenance of anchor devices conforming to BS EN 795
Convenor of BSI/PH 5/Ad Hoc Working Group BS 7985: Code of practice for the use of rope access for industrial purposes
Member of BSI/PH 5/Ad Hoc Working Group BS 8405: Descender devices – Single-hand operated descender devices for self or assisted rescue
Member of BSI/PH 5/Ad Hoc Working Group BS 8513: Twin-legged energy-absorbing lanyards
Member and part author of BSI/PH 5/Ad Hoc Working Group BS 8437: Code of practice for selection, use and maintenance of personal fall protection systems and equipment for use in the workplace
Member of BSI/PH 5/Ad Hoc Working Group BS 8610: Anchor systems - Specification