Rope access window cleaning is essential high-level maintenance in the FM industry.
It is considered the safest way to carry out high-access cleaning and maintenance; along with repairs, construction and other maintenance solutions. With the advancement of equipment and technique, rope accesswindow cleaning has proven to have the lowest occurrence of accidents in jobs of this nature industry-wide.
Using rope access is usually cheaper and less intrusive than alternative working at height solutions such as cradle or truck mounted access. Rope access can also reach areas at height that other systems, such as water-fed pole cleaning might not reach. With this kind of access, the completion of bird-proofing, maintenance and other services can all take place in one go, offering great value.
Why Safety Standards?
Despite having such a high safety reputation, rope access window cleaning has had its fair share of headlines over the years. Well publicised incidents in the press have come to light where workers have fallen from dangerous heights.
When working at height, safety is paramount, and so the law put regulations in place to ensure an industry-wide safety standard. The Work at Height regulations 2005 state that:
- Work at height should remain properly organised
- Those involved in work at height are competent
- Risk assessments take place and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
- You should manage the risks of working on or near fragile surfaces.
- Proper inspection takes place of the equipment used for work at height.
- Despite this, in 2016/17 the HSE recorded 25 fatal accidents caused by falling from height.
Introduction of IRATA
Further to the above regulations, the IRATA formed in the UK in the late 1980 ’s. And now, Rope Access associations: IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) and SPRAT (Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians) are responsible for regulating the industry.
“The rope access technique developed from IRATA is used in a wide range of repair, maintenance, inspection and access work. Rope access methodology boasts an unrivalled safety record, short set-up and dismantling time, positive environmental benefits and removes the need for invasive access equipment or disruption to a worksite.” IRATA
The IRATA is in charge of conducting an annual analysis of safety and work in rope access. IRATA have compulsory policies where member companies must register all accidents, incidents and even near misses for evaluation.
IRATA Safety Standards
The rope access industry must ensure that:
- During rope access, the technician always has at least two attachments, each having an independent anchorage point.
- There are regular inspection and maintenance of equipment.
- All tools attach to lanyards on the technician’s harness to prevent danger to people below.
- Each rope has a foolproof descent apparatus.
- There are Independent assessments for each technician.
- A minimum of two trained technicians for any job, each with the ability to handle any accident the other might face.
- The use of carefully detailed codes of practice and working systems are present.
The critical safety standard is that there is never just one technician on the job. A minimum of two workers is essential to ensure that each person has a lookout for fear of any potential safety threats. Without this practice in place, there is a massive cause for concern if an accident should occur.
IRATA provides three levels of certified training. They make sure that each rope access worker knows how to behave or react accordingly when they are working at height. Looking to contract a working at height specialist? We strongly recommend that you select a company with IRATA affiliations.
Get in touch
Smarter Services has one of the most experienced rope access operations in the business. To discuss how Smarter Services can reach hard to access areas contact the rope access team on 0207 112 8857.
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