A petition challenging the UK’s Health and Safety Executive's plan to change work-at-height regulations has gathered thousands of signatures.

The petition, titled 'Single rope climbing for UK arborists' was launched last week, after the Arboricultural Association released a draft of its new industry standard.

First published in 2015, the document has made a number of changes to reflect new legislation and developments. The biggest changes are affecting cranes, personal fall protection systems, working positioning and rope access, and equipment performance specifications.

The standard states that “when SRT (Stationary Rope Technique) is used, the system must comprise two independently anchored lines and may only utilise a single line where the use of the second line entails higher risk”.

The Arboricultural Association is asking for feedback on the changes and submit them before Friday, 17 January.

Now, a petition has been launched on change.org by user Ropeworks International, arguing that the enforcement of two-rope working would be "a huge step backwards" for arborists.

The petition reads: "Since the introduction of WaHR in 2005, the industry has had a healthy relationship and understanding with the HSE that such an enforcement would not make arboreal work safer and would create a complexity of equipment management that would likely create different risks that don't currently exist without eliminating the low risk of using a single anchor point.

"Since the summer of 2019, negotiation has been attempted and it seems little headway has been made. So now the main UK training bodies, Lantra and NPTC have been threatened with legal action if their trainers do not teach twin line/anchor climbing."

The petition calls on the industry to challenge the position and can be viewed here.