Rope Access sounds like a pretty self-explanatory concept when it comes to commercial facade maintenance. However, there's more than meets eye when it comes to this elusive yet exciting industry. To summerize, rope access refers to the use of rope work to either climb up or down or access difficult to reach areas of a structure or formation. The same technology is used in many other industries in a professional and leisurely (I use this term loosely here!) capacity. Hobbies such as climbing (rock climbing for example) and caving (the recreational past time of exploring caves), all use the same rope access technology and know-how that is utilized in professional industries such as high-rise window cleaning, oil-rig maintenance, or even helicopter rescue.
What does rope access consist of?
The main elements used in rope access focuses around the knowledge and use of practical rope work, allowing a person to do several of the following movements, all while attached to a harness:
-Descend: The action of descending or climbing down a rope
-Ascend: The action of ascending or climbing up a rope
-Transfer: The action of moving from one rope to another
-Rope Rescue: The action of rescuing yourself or another person on a rope
The uses of rope access are endless especially in a professional capacity and during the maintenance of commercial properties. Rope access is a safe way of accessing a high-rise building or construction and allows more freedom for technicians to access structures old and new, from straight-forward and simple designed hotels, office blocks or condominiums to oddly shaped but innovative architectural structures such as wind turbines and oil rigs. It allows technicians to access areas that would not have been possible to reach with other methods such as using swing-stages and boom lifts.
Is rope access safe?
The concept of working at high elevations while being supported by only rope and your harness does sound daunting to some yet exciting to others. However, since the conceptualization of this industry in the 1980s, the technology and knowledge used in rope access has been developed over the years in order to guarantee the safety of this method of access, while working from heights. This is especially useful since new structures and buildings are becoming taller and elaborate by the day. When taught the inner workings of rope access, each user will learn the theory around fall protection and how the use of two ropes (one simply called your main line and the other, your safety line), guarantees your protection as the user. Also, being taught different concepts such as how to tie different knots depending on what circumstance you are in, to how to self-rescue or rescue other, illustrates how extensive this industry is.
What have you learnt about rope access?
Hopefully, the last few paragraphs helped illustrate and summerize how rope access is safe and useful for whatever situations it could benefit and be used in. Rope access is a great alternative to using other bulky machinery such as swing stages and boom lift and due to the constant development over the years is a safe alternative. Whether you're an expert in this field or just standing firmly on the ground while reading this, it's safe to say that rope access is here to stay.