How to Inspect a Rope
When conducting any work via rope access, making frequent rope inspections is key to ensuring safety and good equipment performance. Rope inspections must be carried out by someone who understands what to look for and when a rope is unworthy of further use. Rope damage has many possible causes, and depending on the nature and extent of damage, the rope might be salvaged, repaired, or in some instances needs to be completely discarded. Some common example of rope damage are explained below:
Exposure to Chemicals
Ropes are often used in harsh conditions including exposure to corrosive chemicals, such as cleaning agents. This type of damage might be difficult to spot, and that is why you need to run a careful eye over the length of the rope, to ensure that there are no yellowing, faded, or rusty spots on the rope. You would also want to keep the rope away from places where chemicals are stored.
Cut Outer Sheath
This type of damage can be easily spotted if you are careful when carrying out equipment inspections. If the outer sheath of a rope is cut in such a way, as to make the inner layer visible, this means the rope needs to be replaced. There is some confusion about whether fuzzy sheaths mean the end of the rope life. Slight amount of fuzz, often barely visible, indicate that the rope might be used for some time to come, but you might want to keep a replacement handy. However, if the inner part, core, of the rope is visible, then you should not continue to use it.
Grease will make a rope slippery and difficult to use. If left uncleaned, the corrosive action of grease and direct can embed itself into the core of a rope and damage it. Ropes must be regularly cleaned to avoid this potentially happening.
Loss of Flexibility
A robust rope has that "springy" feel to it, is a good rope. A rope that feels rigid when gently tugged at is probably damaged at the core. Similarly, clumping, breakage, roughness at the core, that you can feel once you firmly run your fingers over the length of the rope, can also indicate major damage and is a sign that you should no longer be using the rope. You would also want to test the rope's core by looping the rope in a gentle U shape, all over the length. If the shape is not quite "U", but forms a "V" or any other shape then it is often an indication that the rope needs replaced.
Scorching might occur due to close proximity to fires or objects with high temperatures. Scorched outer surfaces often indicate damage to the core as well, because heat can easily travel from the sheath to the core. As expected, you would want to replace scorched ropes.
For any kind of work carried out via rope access the importance of proper rope maintenance including safe storage, good handling, and most of all regular inspection will ensure that all ropes are in good condition at all times to enable safe rope access.
To find out more about rope access, please contact Inspection & Rope Access Specialists, via our Contact Form or by calling 01592 722 571.
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