The construction industry is renowned for having the highest number of fatalities, according to HSE non-fatal falls from height accounted for 19% of all non-fatal injuries in 2019/20 within the construction industry. Operating in such a high-risk environment safety measures need to be taken. This is where rope access comes in, not only is rope access a safe system of work it is also a highly effective and efficient way of working for a variety of reasons. The primary objective when this method of access is to carry out the work efficiently, with minimal accidents, incidents, or dangerous occurrences. Rope access also gives quick and safe access to otherwise difficult-to-reach locations while minimising disruption to the surrounding operations or environment.
There are generally 2 accepted standards of rope access in the UK, British Standard 7985 for equipment and IRATA (Industrial Rope Access and Trade Association) for the operative, IRATA is the most commonly accepted way of demonstrating competence of which the British standard was written, However, new standard BS ISO 22846-1 and 2 supersed the original BS standard. Having formed in the 1980’s it is rigorously regulated, their continuous monitoring ensuring compliance within the industry remains up-to-date. IRATA has its own international code of practice (ICOP) and Training and Certification Scheme (TACS) incorporating 3 different levels of competence and competence assessment. Each technician learns responsibility for their own equipment, rigging techniques, and rescues as well as gaining knowledge of the legislation and procedures of rope access. All levels must be refreshed and reassessed every 3 years.
With such highly regulated procedures and legislation, rope access holds a great safety record with very few accidents a year because of this it is considered a great working at height solution. The industry is renowned for its extremely low figure of yearly fatalities and accidents. According to IRATA, In 2019 there were 26 reported accidents within the UK, while globally there was only 1 reported fatality across all industries where rope access is used.
You don’t need to worry about the ground-level terrain not being stable or level with rope access like you would with more traditional means of access such as scaffolding and mobile access platforms. No ground space is necessary meaning you won’t need to worry about having to reinstate any damage caused after the work is complete or have to alter the environment to gain access in the first place. The ability to get in smaller spaces that an access platform may otherwise not be able to gain access to is a plus. With this non-invasive method, rope access has minimal impact on the surrounding environment, saving you time and money.
Rope access used in hard to reach areas
Using rope access the time taken to set up the worksite can be drastically reduced because the equipment used can be assembled and removed from site quickly. Where scaffolding could take days to set up depending on the scale of the project, rigging could take a few hours to complete but more often it takes less than that. Because of this rope access technicians are able to get started on work relatively quickly no matter the complexity of the access which makes this a more effective method compared to scaffolding.
In difficult access situations where powered access (MEWP) is not viable and scaffolding is too expensive, your best access solution may be rope access.
Rope access requires less equipment, it’s quicker to set up, and oftentimes results in a reduction of the man-hours required to complete the task. This increase in productivity resulting from the adaptability, speed, and effectiveness that rope access methods provide and without the need for large, expensive equipment, rope access reduces the on-site costs and impact. Making this working at height method great value of money as it is usually less expensive than the alternative methods
Rope access is not just for buildings or offshore oil rigs, rope access technicians are often highly trained in other specialist areas from Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) to Spray Painter Blasters, welding, confined spaces, inspections, and surveying to name a few. The technicians are easily able to adapt to different environments thanks to their unique skillsets and the equipment they use.