is a form of work positioning, initially developed from techniques used in climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...
Caving—also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and potholing in the United Kingdom—is the recreational pastime of exploring wild cave systems...
, which applies practical ropework
Ropework or Marlinespike Seamanship is the set of processes and skills used to make, repair, and use rope. This includes tying knots, splicing, making lashings, and proper use and storage of rope...
to allow workers to access difficult-to-reach locations without the use of scaffolding
Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures. It is usually a modular system of metal pipes or tubes, although it can be from other materials...
Cradle may refer to:Mechanical devices:*Bassinet, a small bed, often on rockers, in which babies and small children sleep* Ship cradle, supports a ship that is dry docked...
s or mobile elevated work platforms MEWPs. Rope access technicians descend, ascend, and traverse ropes for access and work while suspended by a harness or a work seat. The support of the rope should eliminate the likelihood of a fall altogether. Rope access workers use a back-up fall arrest system in the unlikely failure of their primary means of support. This redundant system is usually achieved by using two ropes - a working line and a safety line.
The most common applications for modern rope access include inspection, surveying, maintenance, and construction on bridges, dams, wind turbines, towers, buildings, geologic slopes, and industrial plants. While inspection is the most common application, welding, cutting and heavy material handling can be accomplished by rope access professionals using specialized procedures. The industry is characterised by rigorous adherence to the several key safety characteristics which include such criteria as:
- When working a rope access technician always has at least 2 attachments, each having an independent anchorage point.
- When the worker is supported by ropes, each of the worker's ropes will have a fail-safe descent mechanism.
- All secondary tools and equipment (e.g. drill
A drill or drill motor is a tool fitted with a cutting tool attachment or driving tool attachment, usually a drill bit or driver bit, used for drilling holes in various materials or fastening various materials together with the use of fasteners. The attachment is gripped by a chuck at one end of...
A sealant may be viscous material that has little or no flow characteristics and stay where they are applied or thin and runny so as to allow it to penetrate the substrate by means of capillary reaction...
, etc.) are attached by lanyard
A lanyard is a rope or cord exclusively worn around the neck or wrist to carry something. Usually it is used where there is a risk of losing the object or to ensure it is visible at all times. Aboard a ship, it may refer to a piece of rigging used to secure objects...
s to the worker's harness
A safety harness is a form of protective equipment designed to protect a person, animal, or object from injury or damage. The harness is an attachment between a stationary and non-stationary object and is usually fabricated from rope, cable or webbing and locking hardware...
to avoid danger to people below.
- A minimum of two trained technicians are required for any job, each with the ability to rescue the other if needed.
- All technicians are independently assessed.
- All equipment is regularly inspected and maintained.
- Carefully refined codes of practice and working systems are used.
This approach has meant very few accidents
since the beginning of this activity around 1980s.
Typical applications include:
- Inspection, painting and construction on offshore oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...
s and power plants.
- Inspection, surveying, maintenance on wind turbines.
- Inspection, surveying, maintenance, and construction on bridges and dams.
- Window cleaning, repair and aircraft warning light
Aircraft warning lights are high-intensity lighting devices that are attached to tall structures and are used as collision avoidance measures. Such devices make structures more visible to passing aircraft and are usually used at night, although they may be used during the day as well...
maintenance on high-rise buildings.
- Maintenance on aerials, telecommunication and electrical transmission towers (pylons).
- Construction assist on stadiums, spires, and other unique shape structures.
- Geologic slopes.
- Inspection, documentation and access to large building façades.