Most people who have no experience or knowledge of working at heights believe doing so is safest using scaffolding or other means than using ropes. To an uninformed observer working at a height using ropes certainly appears perilous, however, nothing can be further from the truth. Working at heights using ropes does pose a minor risk, but rope access teams are well trained and equipped to manage it. Rope access team’s rigorous training and high-quality safety equipment are reasons why they have a flawless safety record superior to any other technique used to work at heights. A few safety myths about rope access teams are mentioned and clarified below.
Myth 1: Rope Access Teams Use Ordinary Ropes
When performing high access maintenance and repairs employing rope access teams is ideal because they can easily and safely access difficult to reach areas. The statement “using rope access teams is the safest way to work at heights” is quite accurate. A layperson believes that rope access teams work at heights using ordinary ropes, this is completely false. Every rope access team uses ropes that are specialised for work at heights.
The specialised nature of such ropes ensures they easily support the weight of every member of the rope access team and allow them to swiftly reach even the hardest to access areas. All members of a rope access team are attached to 2 ropes anchored at two distinct points. This means should a single rope line fail, which is very unlikely, a second rope line will continue supporting each team member.
Myth 2: Every Person Using Ropes Works Individually
Rope access has a better safety record than any other work-at-height technique. This is not a coincidence but rather a result of the rigorous training those part of rope access teams undergo. No member of a rope access team ever works alone at heights. A rope access team always consists of 3 members one of whom is a Level 3 supervisor having years of specialized training and thousands of man hours spent working at heights.
Each member of a rope access team is trained to perform a rescue, although Level 3 supervisors are the only ones specialised in all forms of rescue. Because every rope access team has a Level 3 supervisor it always has a team member specialized in all forms of rescue. When a rescue is needed, each team member is trained to assist a Level 3 supervisor.
Myth 3: Rope Access Teams Pose a Danger to Those Below
Not only are rope access teams able to safely work at heights, but they also pose no danger to those on the ground. It is a myth that when such teams work at a height they pose a danger those below. Every member of a rope access team carries equipment that is secured safely making it impossible for such equipment to fall. In fact, workers on scaffolding are more likely to pose a danger to those below than rope access teams are.
What Makes Rope Access Teams so Safe and Effective
Since the introduction of IRATA rope access training, rope access technicians have an opportunity to be certified. Prior to 2 decades ago, those who worked at heights using ropes used the same techniques used to climb mountains or access caves safely. While IRATA training is similar to that used to climb mountains or access caves, IRATAs three levels of training ensure every technician part of a rope access team knows how to work at heights safely and confidently.