What is Rope Access?
Rope access refers to a set of techniques where ropes and specialized hardware are used as the primary means of providing access and support to workers. Generally a two-rope system is employed: the working rope supports the worker and the safety rope provides back-up fall protection.
Why use rope access?
Modern rope access equipment, techniques, and training can be combined to produce an exceptionally safe, versatile, efficient, and cost-effective way to solve vertical access problems.
- Rope access is safe. Independently-certified rope-access technicians uphold an enviable safety record.
- Rope access is versatile. Technicians can apply the techniques in a wide variety of environments, from confined-space penstocks to massive concrete structures to complicated steel installations. Unlike traditional access methods, custom rope-access solutions can be designed to fit various applications quickly and inexpensively.
- Rope access is efficient. Systems are installed and dismantled quickly and often require fewer personnel than traditional access methods. Rapid deployment limits disruption to facility operations by minimizing downtime.
- Rope access is economical. Fewer personnel, faster completion, less equipment, and minimal downtime mean lower costs.
Who uses rope access?
- Civil, structural, and geotechnical engineers
- Operations and maintenance workers
- Construction workers and painters
- High-rise window cleaners
- Motion picture and theatrical set personnel
- Tower and antenna installers
- Rescue Teams
- Bridge workers
- Wind turbines
- Sign Installers
- Smoke stack maintenance and inspection
- Insulation installation and maintenance
- Bridge work
- Cell tower services
- High angle rescue
What are some examples of common rope access applications?
- Structural inspections and non-destructive examination (NDE)
- Sealant installation and surface preparation
- Sand blasting and pressure washing
- Concrete repair
- Instrument installation
- Rock scaling and anchoring
- Photography and cinematography
- Set installation
- Geological surveys
IRATA Explains Rope Access As:
IRATA International’s rope access system is a safe method of working at height where ropes and associated equipment are used to gain access to and from the workplace, and to be supported there.
The advantage of using rope access methods mainly lies in the safety and speed with which workers can get to or from difficult locations and then carry out their work, often with minimal impact on other operations and the nearby area. Another major benefit is that the combination of the total man-hours and the level of risk for a particular task (man-at-risk hours) is often reduced when compared with other means of access and their associated risks and costs.
The primary objective when using rope access methods is to plan, manage and carry out the work with minimal accidents, incidents or dangerous occurrences, i.e. to ensure a safe system of work is maintained at all times, and with no damage to property or harm to the environment. IRATA International has in place a continuously evolving regime of work procedures that members are required to follow and which are monitored for compliance to ensure that a safe system of work is established and maintained. This sets IRATA International member companies apart from rope access companies that are not subject to such a rigorous scheme.
Like any other method of working at height, the application of rope access should be regarded as a complete system, in which planning, management, competence and suitable equipment should be treated with equal importance, as each is dependent on the others to ensure a safe system of work. This Code of Practice gives recommendations and guidance on the use of rope access methods to provide such a safe system of work. Part 1 sets out fundamental principles and controls. Part 2 expands on Part 1, providing more detailed guidance. Part 3 is a series of annexes, which give advice on the rope access aspect of associated work practices and information on other relevant topics. Part 4 gives links to relevant national legislation and Part 5 provides a bibliography.