Q: How does rope-access work?

A: Rope-access techniques combine elements of climbing and caving which have been extensively modified and adapted for use in high-level work situations. The specific type of rope access used for a job depends entirely on the work circumstances in hand o each project , but in virtually all situations, the worker will be securely fastened to a minimum of two independent attachment points.

Q: Isn’t rope access dangerous?

A: Statistically, rope access is actually the safest form of access in high-level situations, with only a single death in operational history, and none in the 16 years that stats have been officially collated.

Part of the reason for this is that the industry is strictly controlled by IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association), who have general requirements and guidelines that have been approved by the Health and Safety Executive, which released the Working At Height Regulations 2005.

Q: Isn’t it expensive?

A: Rope access is actually an extremely cost and time effective solution to working in high level or difficult-to-access areas. Other options, including scaffolding, can take weeks to get into place before work can even begin, and then you have the same timescale to remove it once the work is completed.  Freelance Rope access experts can be in, have the job done and be gone in a third of the time.

Q: What happens in an emergency situation?

A: In the RAMS (risk assessment and method statement), evacuation routes will have been clearly identified. In most cases this would be a direct descent to the nearest walkway and then exit via the client’s approved routes, but for more-complex rescues, a complete evacuation route will be agreed and fully installed prior to any work beginning.

Q: How do you carry out a rescue at height?

A: IRATA’s approved methods of training state that rescues can be carried out with the equipment , basic kit/harness configuration in most situations, and all rope-access technicians are qualified to varying degrees of rescue capabilities. Level 1 technicians can complete basic rescues, while Level 3 technicians can produce rescue plans and carry out more-complex rescues.