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The Evolution of Rope Access Safety Standards

Since the latter half of the previous century, rope access rigging has overtaken traditional scaffolding as the preferred option for working at heights. It is not only cheaper, but much less time consuming. It will surprise some to learn that, in the final analysis, rope access is also widely considered to be the safest option. This may seem counterintuitive; rope access workers spend long stretches hanging hundreds of feet up in the air, a predicament that most of us would get dizzy just thinking about. Workers using scaffolding, on the other hand, have the benefit of more-or-less solid ground beneath their feet. 

But there is in fact very low incidence of serious injury or fatality among rope access technicians, primarily because of the extensive protocols and procedures that have developed around this type of work over the years. In this blog, we delve into the evolution of these protocols and the oversight bodies that promote and enforce them.

The Beginnings of Present-Day Rope Access

The modern incarnation of industrial abseiling or rope access for industrial applications first emerged in the 1980s, taking its cues from climbing equipment and techniques that had developed in recreational rock climbing. There is still a great deal of crossover in terms of the skills and technology used in recreational and industrial climbing.

One key difference is that, while it is not uncommon for recreational climbers to head out with minimal equipment or supervision and there is no official oversight body, industrial climbing is now heavily regulated. After a number of high profile incidents in the 1980s that resulted in tragedy, industrial climbers saw the need for strict protocols to protect their workers and the public. 

The Emergence of IRATA

IRATA – the International Rope Access Trade Association – was formed in the late 1980s by a number of leading rope access organisations. Its goal was to provide procedures and equipment that would ensure the safety of rope access technicians around the world. At the time of writing, IRATA has trained over 130,000 technicians around the world and continues to guide and direct the industry. The standardisation of techniques, equipment, and protocols brought about by IRATA has made rope access the safest option for working at height. 

How Max Access Puts Safety First

At Max Access, all our technicians work to IRATA standards, arguably the highest in the world. Our technicians are able to get the job done much faster than would be possible with scaffolding, with fewer steps and less equipment. Fewer moving parts and less time spent working at height further reduce the risk of injury. Using rope access can easily cut your downtime by close to 50%.

There are other benefits to this, of course, not the least of which is the significantly lower cost when compared with traditional options. It also means less bulky and intrusive equipment on your site and less time and money spent applying for permits.

Contact Max Access Today

Based out of Melbourne’s inner north, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding solutions and timely results. We apply the most stringent safe work methods within the construction, commercial, and maintenance sectors. To find out how Max Access can help your business save time and money, get in touch by phone or email today.

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