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How Safe Is Rope Access?

Rope Access Safety

There are many safety myths associated with rope access. Onlookers may see it as a terrifying operation whereby the technician relies solely on a rope to protect themselves whilst they scale or traverse a building. Unsurprisingly however, rope access relies on much more than just a rope and is actually proven to be one of the safest ways to conduct repairs and maintenance on high or awkward access buildings.

What Does Rope Access Involve?

Developments in safety and engineering have allowed rope access to become one of the most commonly used ways to access high structures and new technologies are continuously being created. It works by following similar principles to those used for abseiling mountains and cliffs. A rope access specialist will be attached to the structure they are working on by two independent ropes and will always work as part of a team so they can assist each other in the unlikely event of an incident.

Prior to the introduction of The International Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) nearly 20 years ago rope access job listings would typically require the same skill set of those that cave or climb. However since IRATA was created rope access specialists must now complete a well regulated program of training before they are allowed to use the equipment in a real life scenario such as for fabric maintenance. All equipment must also go through intense testing before it is used to ensure it can hold weights much greater than it would ever be required to.

How Many People Are Injured Doing Rope Access Work?

As mentioned before IRATA are the global regulating body for the rope access industry. As part of their work they conduct an annual analysis of safety and work in the industry. Their 2013 report shows the total number of accident/incident reports submitted for 2013 was 109 (55 less than 2012). From their data the fatality rate for rope access is calculated at 0.08 per 1000 and 0.64 per 1,000 for reportable injuries. These statistics are relatively low, especially when compared with what seems like lower-risk jobs in factories and warehouse where serious injury reports run into the hundreds.

What Are The Advantages of Using Rope Access?

Rope access has many advantages over traditional ways of accessing difficult structures. Firstly work can be completed quickly and efficiently as time does not to be wasted waiting for scaffolding to be set up. Secondly, unlike in scaffolding, a rope access technician’s tools are attached to their belt meaning the chances of dropping one and hurting someone below are very small. Thirdly, rope access is favourable when attempting to access building that are awkwardly shaped or difficult to reach from ground level. Lastly, rope access incurs very low environmental or property damage as they require less equipment.

If you have a project that you think could benefit from rope access techniques, or want to talk to our team please contact us today. One of our Inspection & Rope Access Specialists consultants will be happy to help you.