Since 2019 rope access technology has been officially registered in TRBS 2121 as authorised working equipment. It is a rope-supported access process for installation, cleaning, and service tasks on facades. The technology is applied by certified industrial climbers who are able to move in the system with relative flexibility and agility.
The correct planning and implementation of rope access technology are correspondingly important, because a sustainable safety concept is the only protection against the illusion of safety. But enough of the theory! Let's take a look at how the individual principles of facade safety are experienced in the practical working day.
Similar to a sports competition, use of the system requires a certain level of qualification, preparation, and compliance with rules. A debriefing and analysis takes place afterwards. In our blog, we’d like to show you this chronology for the individual steps of rope access technology, and to explain each of them briefly.
Prerequisite for rope access technology on facades
A basic prerequisite for the use of rope access technology on facades is successfully completed training in rope access and positioning technology, because the employees must demonstrate the necessary suitability and training to practice the activity.
Preparation for rope access technology
- Risk assessment:
It is necessary to determine the risks to the employee in advance, and to eliminate them as far as possible.
- Rescue concept:
In addition to the risk assessment, a rescue concept must also be developed. This must always be adapted to the situation which exists (environment and construction progress).
- Personal protective equipment against falls from a height:
Personal protective equipment against falls from a height is prepared for the intended use and inspected for its readiness for use.
- Rescue gear:
The rescue gear must also be prepared, e.g. suitable rescue devices. For rope access technology, compliance with rope lengths is an important item.
- Weather conditions:
The weather conditions should be checked in order that rope access technology on the various facade types can be implemented to the highest standards.
On the construction site or building - Part 1
In general one team should be positioned at each working point. The teams take the following work steps:
- Reporting the tasks
- Closing off the working area as per guidelines
- Above (anchor points)
- Below (working area/surface lying underneath - falling objects, etc. ...)
- Risk assessment and adaptation of the rescue concept to the actual situation and the tasks at the location
- Agreement of escape routes
- Provision of the rescue equipment, i.e. the rescue material must be in the place where it is actually needed
- Preparation of the PPE against falls from a height
- Donning of harness
- Preparation of the ropes including checking the lengths, knots, etc. (securing of knots and rope end knots)
- Preparation of sliders (visual inspection)
Tip from the experts: Remember the partner check, because four eyes see more than two!
On the construction site or building - Part 2
- Preparation of the necessary tools, and securing them against falling
- Creation of access protection suitable for the local conditions, using EAP-LOCK-11,EAP-LOCK-13 or temporary protection. This applies, for example to transferring from a ladder to the facade, or to transferring from a standing area within a facade to the exterior
- Inspection of the anchor points or the rail system
- Secured attachment of the ropes/sliders
- Checking redundancy: duplicate protection must always be provided in rope access technology (suspension rope and lifeline)!!!
- Execution of cleaning, maintenance, and care tasks
- JOB DONE!
- Safe dismantling of anchor points (e.g. sliders, temporary points)
- Tidy stowage of PPE against falls from a height, ropes, etc. - in general no equipment should be left lying around (not even overnight)
Processes of rope access technology
For rope access technology, there must always be permanent redundancy, i.e. duplicate protection, for example by means of suspension rope and lifeline (also known as working line and safety rope). In addition, the rescue aspect always needs to be borne in mind, because it must be possible to perform an emergency rescue at any time.
- Vertical access processes:
In broad terms, vertical rope access technology refers to ascent and descent using a rope hanging vertically. Regardless of the facade type, this process is possible only on facades where the user can ascend or descend directly up or down.
This means that the user is positioned on a seat board, and moves directly upwards or downwards. Descending or ascending can take place in different ways, e.g. by means of a hand or a chest ascender.
- Horizontal access processes:
For these processes, distinctions are made between horizontal movements on structures (beams), cable spans, and fixed points; different process steps are therefore needed, but these are outside our present scope.
Movement along horizontal planes is always based on the alternate loading and easing of load on a lanyard (using either a foot loop ascender or two lanyards which can be released under load, depending on the structure). In other words, at least two positioners are alternately loaded and eased.
- Rope change processes:
Rope changes are very complex, and are used e.g. when rescuing people. In these cases, the person hanging from the rope has to be “overtaken”. Accordingly, a change of working line is necessary. This is the sole option to get from A to B. Various training courses (IRATA, FISAT) deal with rope changes in detail. To illustrate how this can work out in practice, here is an example of a horizontal rope change:
Follow-up for rope access technology on facades
- Documentation of the tasks
The documentation must be completed neatly and concisely. Either in hard-copy logbooks, or using a digital solution such as the Anodic documentation tool to save yourself paperwork.
- Recorded in the logbook
Rope access technicians must provide evidence of rope usage hours and must enter working times into a logbook or rope usage book.
Summary: Rope access technology on facades
One thing is certain: After working on the facade, industrial climbers know that they have done a hard day’s work. However, the better the safety solution is thought out, and the better the safety concept is designed, the more quickly and safely the climbers can perform their respective activities.
Whether installation, care, servicing, or repair - in the long term the selection of the appropriate system for rope access technology has a major effect on its cost and resource efficiency when used.
Has rope access technology on facades captured your interest? Then simply download our current Whitepaper and browse through the world of this flexible safety system.