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Rope Access

Rope Access: "The use of suspension equipment to access a work position"

Rope access is similar to 'work positioning' however rope access involves the use of additional equipment. To save rope access operatives time when selecting their equipment we have produced a selection of rope access kits

Rope access is becoming ever widely used in industry enabling operatives to reach more difficult areas than would otherwise be possible. Rope access techniques are commonly implemented in the UK for cleaning large buildings, inspecting bridges/structures and steeplejack services to name but a few.

The development of rope access in the UK has grown from caving techniques and a few climbing techniques. In the beginning rope access was dominated by cavers and climbers, this changed when companies required rope access operatives to be able to perform specialist tasks. It is commonly agreed that it is easier to teach a tradesmen the skills required to perform rope access safely than to train a caver in the skills of non-destructive testing for example.

The equipment most commonly seen on a rope access operatives harness includes:

Rope access is now regarded as one of the safest means of access, so far it has resulted in not a single death since its introduction in the UK during the mid 80's. This remarkable achievement has been reached through excellent working practises, high quality equipment and most importantly competent operatives who are assessed independently. Rope access is implemented in the UK under the guiding body IRATA.

IRATA - The 'International Rope Access Trade Association' was set up to formalise training, a training program and offer guidance to rope access companies. IRATA have published the 'Guidelines on the Use Of Rope Access Methods for Industrial Purposes' and the 'General Requirements for certification of personnel engaged in rope access'. Both of these documents should be referred to as your primary information source when undertaking work or training personnel.

British Standard Code of Practice BS7985:2002 has been published for rope access in the UK. Titled 'Code of practice for the use of rope access methods for industrial purposes'.
IRATA has a website that is a good source of information.

Descent using Petzl products and rope access techniques

Decending a rope using the Petzl I'd and Petzl ASAP

In this image a Petzl I'd and Petzl ASAP have been used to create a fail safe descent system. Should the user pull the handle of the Petzl I'd to hard the device will lock to prevent an uncontrolled descent. The Petzl ASAP is able to run freely up and down the back-up rope, If there is any failure on the working rope or descent becomes too rapid the Petzl ASAP will lock. The Petzl ASAP has been fitted with a Petzl ASAP sorber, this lanyard has energy absorbing capabilities to keep any forces below the required minimum.
Work positioning with the Petzl I'd and Petzl ASAP The Petzl I'd and Petzl ASAP allow users to position themselves at the work site. Once at the work site the handle of the Petzl I'd can be rotated (opposite direction to which it pulled for descent) into the locked position. The Petzl I'd locking handle position avoids slippage of the rope as is experienced with other descenders, and negates the need for 'locking off' rope configurations.
Positioning the Petzl I'd and Petzl ASAP to avoid hazards Here the Petzl I'd has been extended using a Lyon wire anchor strop, this keeps the working rope away from any potential hazards. The Petzl ASAP has been attached to the rear fall arrest point on the harness, the back-up rope is running through a karabiner on one of the rear gear loops. This set up keeps the back-up system completely behind the user protecting it from sharp tools or flying debris. In situations where ropes are continually exposed to hazards involving heat aramide ropes could be used.

 Ascent using Petzl products and rope access techniques

Ascending a rope using the Petzl I'd and Petzl Ascension Short ascents can be made without changing the Petzl I'd for a chest ascender. After a Petzl Ascension and foot loop have been connected to the harness the controlling rope of the Petzl I'd can be passed through a connector in the top of the Petzl Ascension. The rope can then be pulled at the same time as the user pulls on the handle of the Petzl Ascension and stands up in the foot loop. The Petzl I'd will automatically lock when the rope is released, therefore shortening the length of rope between the user and the anchors above.
Ascending a rope with the Petzl Croll and Petzl Ascension To ascend longer distances a chest ascender such as the petzl Croll (the Petzl Navaho Bod Croll Fast has it pre installed) can be fitted to the harness, this can be added to the Petzl Navaho sit using the Petzl Secur chest strap. Coupled with the Petzl Ascension and foot loop rope ascent is facilitated. Ascent using this method is less strenuous as the rope is held closer to the user allowing them to exert more force in an upward direction.
Ascending long distances with the Petzl Pantin, Petzl Croll and Petzl Ascension combination To ascend full rope lengths the Petzl Pantin can be fitted to one foot and the rope. This provides upward pushing force from the other leg, having both feet in the system gives greater balance to the user and shares loads equally between both legs.

Moving along under an overhang using Petzl products and rope access techniques


Aid climbing with the Petzl Grillon

The user in the image left is using a Petzl Grillon, Petzl Ertiers and an energy absorbing Y shaped lanyard to move along bolts fixed beneath an overhang.


By standing in the etriers the user is able to reach across to the next bolt clipping the Petzl Grillon lanyard and etrier into it. By pulling on the tail rope of the Petzl Grillon and standing in the etriers, the users weight is transferred to the Petzl Grillon.


Once on the Petzl Grillon, the user is able to move each leg of the Petzl Absorbica Y lanyard across to the next bolt (one at a time). Each the Petzl Etriers are then also moved. The users weight is lowered from the Petzl Grillon back onto one leg of the Petzl Absorbica Y ready for the whole process to be repeated.