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Date of Incident

13/01/2022

Country

England

Area

Climbing Wall

Route

Incident

Since there are signs up in the centre about wearing a face covering whilst not climbing and most people were wearing a mask to belay, I complied and wore a mask to belay. Didn't think much about it. It was the blue medical disposable kind. For a few climbs this was going fine then at one point I glanced down because for some reason at that moment felt I needed to look at my hands and the rope and all I could see was my own face mask. This rattled me slightly and I quickly pulled my mask down with my spare hand. I think there might be better designs of mask available, and everyones face is a different shape but when I look down in a mask I can't see straight down and in that moment I would have moved my eyes rather than my entire head because I was also paying attention to the climber.

Lessons

This passed without incident because everything was stacking in the right direction making the risk very low; competent experienced belayer paying full attention and climber did not fall at that specific moment. However imagine this at the lower end of the range of competence, experience and care being taken an then multiply that by every in door route climbed in the country over several weeks and even though the probability is still low the dice is being rolled many many times. It now occurs to me that we might have unintentionally introduced an additional complication that could potentially lead to an accident in the future. This is a very recent change, only this week I noticed we are now requested to belay in a face mask. As with any change that is made to a safety critical activity this needs to be properly risk assessed.

Activity

Indoor climbing

When

Injury

No injury

Causes

Belaying failure or error

Anonymous?

Yes

Reported By

Participant

Wearing Helmets?

Rescue Services Involved?

Author

14 January 2022, 06:59:39

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All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.