When the British Elastic Rope Sports Association(BERSA) sought to draw up a code of practice it turned to the services of AEA Technology. BERSA is the trade association for bungee jump operators. AEA is the consultancy arm of the now-abbreviated Atomic Energy Authority. The connection? Dr Nigel Holloway, AEA's chief technical consultant, who, since being called upon by the Health and Safety Executive to provide a risk assessment of bungee jumping, has become something of an expert on the subject.
According to Holloway, the basic principles of safety in the nuclear industry - AEA's original line of business - and in bungee jumping are much the same, relying on what he terms 'competence' and 'redundancy'. The calculations, meanwhile, were relatively straightforward - a combination of the laws of gravity and elasticity. To prove his confidence in the procedures he had implemented Holloway honoured an original agreement with BERSA and threw himself from the top of a 300-ft crane. He has no plans to do so again. 'The jump served its professional purpose,' he says with scientific detachment. 'I didn't find it that exciting.'