Codes of practice for rescue procedures on aerial railways

Project No. BGIA 5103


completed 06/2008


In the event of emergency evacuation of an aerial railway, a rescue regulation requires all passengers to be rescued within 3.5 hours. For this purpose, the operators of aerial railways must draw up complete and comprehensive rescue plans. Such plans frequently involve numerous rescue workers from a number of organizations. During rope-based rescue operations, rescue workers are exposed to major safety risks and to stress and strain in multiple forms. Rescue work requires high standards of training and fitness and a suitable physical and mental constitution on the part of the rescue workers. The rescue exercises conducted each year show that a uniform and adequate standard does not exist for rescue workers' training, for their ability to withstand physical and mental stresses, nor for their suitability.

Based upon the latest research results, codes of practice are to be drawn up governing arrangements for the entire rope-based rescue procedure. The codes of practice are to provide adequate technical procedural instructions, options, support, and a harmonized approach for the specification of all aspects of these procedures. The purpose is that of assuring the safety, health, suitability and qualification of rescue workers and the necessary reliability during the performance of rescue operations.


An interdisciplinary approach was followed for generation of the codes of practice. A group of experts was formed in which, based upon the latest research, the results of the terms of reference for the areas of technology, work organization, ergonomics, occupational medicine, psychology and qualifications were drafted, structured, cross-referenced in a practical fashion and documented. The codes of practice aim to provide clear guidance by which the individual modules for creation of rescue procedures can be completed one by one. Selection procedures for methods and equipment, tests, training units, health checks and further modules are available in a structured, loose-leaf form, and can be used either individually or in combination according to the type of railway and the personnel. All details are set out in binding form in checklists. Since rescue procedures have been optimized over the years as a result of changes, and the suitability and health of the rescue workers must for example be recorded chronologically and evaluated, a modular and clearly comprehensible structure of identifiable individual documents was implemented.


Requirements concerning physical and mental suitability for the various rescue procedures were set out for the various functions of rescue workers during rescue operations on aerial railways. The levels of the respective requirements were defined by means of a simple three-stage "traffic-light" system. This system is well suited to application in practice. Certain requirements are therefore specified by the rescue plan for the function of a rescue worker. The rescue worker's suitability must correspond to these requirements. Basic and supplementary checks were developed for ascertainment of a rescue workers' physical and mental suitability. Should the results of the basic checks not provide adequate clarity concerning the rescue worker's resistance to physical and mental strain, the supplementary checks may be applied. The basic checks may be performed by the company manager or by responsible persons in the company; the supplementary checks must however be performed by skilled professionals, such as the company physician. Forms were developed for all checks and for the overall suitability; the forms are easy to use in practice and well suited to production of corresponding documentation. Should deficits in rescue workers be identified, qualification and training measures can be launched for improvement of their suitability. Instructions and proposals for exercises were drawn up by which stamina, strength and mobility can be trained. Proposals and instructions were also provided on the proper use of fitness-enhancing forms of sport. With regard to qualification measures, information was set out on coping with stress and on both general and specific stress prevention for rescue workers. During a rescue exercise, the rescue workers can receive practical training in coping with mentally demanding situations. Such courses can be offered by the BGAG Institute Work and Health and incorporated into the companies' annual rescue exercises. All documents for the assessment procedures, the training and qualification measures, and further information were incorporated into a draft of the complete planned guidance document.

Last Update:

8 Apr 2009


Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BGIA
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut Arbeit und Gesundheit - BGAG
  • Berufsgenossenschaft der Straßen-, U-Bahnen und Eisenbahnen
  • Arbeitsmedizinischer Dienst der Berufsgenossenschaft der Bauwirtschaft (AMD)


Type of hazard:

Mehrfachbelastungen, Mechanische Gefährdungen, Psychische Fehlbelastungen


Gestaltung von Anlagen und Verfahren, Sturz- und Absturzgefährung, Psychische Beanspruchung/Belastung

Description, key words:

aerial railways, codes of practice, emergency evacuation, rescue procedures, mental/physical stress and strain, rescue workers, health check