Equipment Management for Rope Access Technicians

Rope access techniques

Industrial rope access has proven to be a safe, efficient and cost-effective. Common rope access techniques include inspection, surveying, maintenance on buildings, towers, bridges, dams, wind turbines and more. Rope access equipment consists of ropes, helmets, harnesses, carabiners, ascenders, and descenders.  

Safety should always be of paramount concern for those using rope access techniques, with the awareness of the following legislations that are necessary for equipment managers and contractors:

What can go wrong?

Although rope access techniques is one of the safest ways to carry out high access maintenance and repairs in the industry, things can still go wrong. Risks could include falls from height due to poor technique, equipment or anchor failure; struck by falling items resulting in fatality or injury to the user; rope burns; and stuck at height.  

Prevention is better than cure

When using rope access techniques, the main objective is to carry out work efficiently, with minimal accidents, incidents or dangerous occurrences. It is important to asses the risks accurately when using any equipment to ensure it meets safety standards, is properly stored, inspected and maintained. It is also essential that the equipment complies with the international standards and equipment users are trained to use it safely. Any work carried out should be supervised to check users are working safely. 

Training Systems 

Training is a continuous process for rope access technicians it keeps them up to speed on current legislation. IRATA and SPRAT have published guidelines to integrate with on-site safety management systems. 

The International Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) is responsible for regulating the training of all workers looking to earn qualifications in the industry. IRATA certifications are available in three different levels and are required for all working rope access technicians. Read more about IRATA Certifications and what is required here

The Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) certification provides instant recognition and credibility to those who carry it. SPRAT encourages the safe use of rope access through education, standards development and certification. SPRAT is also available in three levels available, more information about becoming SPRAT certified can be found here.

Rope Access Program

Based on IRATA and SPRAT guidelines, a safe rope access program should be designed around these four key components:

  1. Management systems
  2. Training systems
  3. Equipment management systems
  4. Qualified supervisors

Equipment Management Systems 

When it comes to the lives of rope access technicians, they are in the hands of the equipment they use. Equipment managers are responsible for maintenance and testing, with each piece of equipment given a unique identifier and inspected before used on a job. Using Papertrail, equipment managers can use RFID or barcode technology to easily identify equipment, create secure and fully auditable inspections in seconds – simply scan and go! 

If your current equipment management system is not working efficiently and you think can be improved. Download our 5 Step Management System Review Workbook, created for equipment managers to ensure your PPE management system is effective.


What is LOLER, and does it affect me?

ropes

What is LOLER?

The Lifting Operation and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) place responsibilities on equipment managers and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. All operations involving lifting equipment must be planned by a competent person, the regulation also requires that equipment is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task and suitably marked, with maintenance and defects reported. 

What is lifting equipment?

Lifting equipment includes any equipment that is used in the workplace for lifting or lowering loads, including accessories providing a link between the two. This includes any lifting accessories used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. 

Examples of lifting equipment according to the HSE:

  • Safety Harnesses and Helmets
  • Overhead cranes and their supporting runways
  • Patient hoists and winches
  • Motor vehicle lifts
  • A building cleaning cradle and its suspension equipment
  • Telehandlers and forklifts
  • Lifting accessories

If you use or manage working at height equipment (Fall Protection, Fall Arrest, Fall Restraint) then you are likely to be familiar with the following equipment types in your inventory that requires a LOLER Inspection certificate: 

Karabiners, Slings, Hitch Cords, Cambium Savers, Pulleys, Friction Devices, Harnesses, Ropes, Swivels, Anchor Rings, Connectors, Ascender/Descender, Figure 8, Fimbl Saver, Lanyards, Mechanical Hitch, Prussiks, Shackles.  All of the above requires a six-month inspection certificate to show they are operating properly and fit for purpose. 

Who must comply with LOLER?

Anyone with responsibility directly or indirectly for work equipment and its use must comply with LOLER, this includes equipment managers, employers, employees, self-employed and those who hire work equipment. Anyone who is accountable for lifting equipment in their company must be aware of LOLER and the procedures.

Working at height Equipment that’s not covered by LOLER

Equipment may appear as ‘lifting’ equipment and thought to be covered by LOLER. Nonetheless, there are some notable exceptions that are not covered by LOLER, when this equipment is used it must be maintained for safety and inspection under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). Equipment that is not covered by LOLER includes:

  • pallet trucks, where the consequence of the load falling off is very low
  • roller shutter doors
  • escalators
  • fall arrest ropes
  • tipper trucks

Using Papertrail to comply with LOLER

You are required by LOLER to give your equipment a thorough 6 monthly inspection before completing an inspection report. If you are not already using a management system, Papertrail helps you create a report and guarantees it is saved against each item inspected and ensures it can be reproduced as a PDF print off or digital display at any time. Follow our step by step on how to produce and save a 6 monthly inspection report.

Inspection certificate

With Papertrail, you can set daily, weekly, monthly or 6-monthly inspection schedules for all your equipment, and get notified whenever another inspection is due – so you’ll never forget to make them! Using Papertrail to record these inspections and create the reports needed for LOLER compliance is so much easier and less time-consuming than paper records. 

You can review and improve your inspection management system today for FREE! Download our 5 Step Management System Review Workbook, created for equipment managers to ensure your PPE management system is effective.

5 Steps to review your PPE Management System