6 Common L1 Discrepancies
There’s a whole list of minor and major discrepancies you should review prior to assessment day (refer to 9.6.3 - 9.6.4 in the TACS for the complete list or click here). However, we decided to put together a short list of the most common mistakes that we see certifying L1 techs make. Use this list as a reminder during your L1 training of pitfalls you can easily run into if you're distracted or unfocused. With awareness, hopefully you can avoid making these common mistakes during your L1 IRATA assessment.
Remember: one major discrepancy, or three minor discrepancies, will result in a fail.
Here are 6 of the most common discrepancies L1 technicians make during their IRATA Assessments:
Major Discrepancy-Less than 4 points of attachment during the rope-to-rope transfer.
TACS: “no back-up to protect against a potential out-of-control swing that may cause injury or damage in the event of failure of an item of equipment.”
When doing a rope-to-rope transfer you always need to have a minimum of four points of attachment -- two on each rope (your main attachment line, and your back up line). Sometimes during this transfer, techs will accidentally go down to three points of attachment. This means you’re missing one of your back ups, and if the attachment on the rope without a backup were to fail, you could cause an out-of-control swing. Remember, if you're going to take anything off (I'D, backup, croll), make sure you have a replacement on first!
Major Discrepancy: Threading the ID backwards, and not realizing the mistake.
TACS: “descending device threaded incorrectly and used in that manner.”
This discrepancy is worded in a very specific way, because if you thread your I'D backwards, get confused because you can’t figure out what you’ve done, and then try to use it as if it was threaded correctly… that’s a major discrepancy. However, if you realize that you’ve threaded the ID backwards, fix it, and then continue on with your current maneuver the right way, you may be okay. However, everything is up to the Assessor's discretion. Some may still decide to give you a minor discrepancy if appropriate (ex. you keep making the same mistake).
The Petzl ID’s have a safety mechanism built into them, so even if you thread it the wrong way, it won't let you descend. The ID will catch on the rope and protect you from a fall. Not all descenders are built this way. If you’re working with another descender and you thread it the wrong way, you could end up falling a long distance.
Major Discrepancy-Threading your backups backwards (We use the ASAP lock, KONG back up, and/or the Safe Tec Duck).
TACS: “back-up or other device used upside down”
This can happen when doing a rope-to-rope transfer or a re-anchor. When performing these maneuvers, your orientation changes when you are transferring ropes. This can disorient some folks and make it easy to thread the backups backwards.
Major Discrepancy-Forgetting to switch to descent mode while climbing over a 90-degree edge (Negotiating an edge).
TACS: “misuse causing potential damage to equipment;”
This is a very common discrepancy to make. Many students perform their negotiation over an edge near the end of their assessment because it's one of the easier maneuvers. However, you can potentially let your guard down too fast and make this mistake, causing major disappointment. When climbing over an edge, you need to remember to changeover from ascent mode to descent mode. Why? Because let's say while climbing over the edge, you slip and fall onto your system. If you're on your ascender, the force of the fall will cause the teeth in your ascender to rip up your ropes. Ascenders are not manufactured to take on the impact of a fall.
Minor Discrepancy and Major Discrepancy-You’re taking way too long to complete a maneuver!
TACS: “A considerable time taken to perform the task” (minor discrepancy), or “excessive time period” (major discrepancy)
As you can tell, this one is a little vague and it does mess people up. During training we tell our students not to rush because they could make mistakes. At the same time, if you take too long to complete a task the assessor may ding you with a discrepancy. Whether it’s a major or minor one, will sort of be up to their discretion, but generally major discrepancies are reserved for errors that could cause harm to you or someone else. You’d likely only get a major discrepancy for this if you were doing a rescue and there was a risk for suspension intolerance.
But just because ‘taking too long’ is a common discrepancy does not mean you should speed up. Especially if you’re already feeling flustered – in that case, the best thing you could do for yourself would be to take a breather; review the steps in your head before moving on. Sometimes the pressure from assessment day can cause techs to veer off script and start doing things differently than they were during training. “Unconventional or untrained techniques used” is a minor discrepancy, and yes it really does happen. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself permission to slow down for a moment and log where you are in the maneuver and where you’re going.
That said… one of the things you’ll be assessed for is your ability to perform the maneuvers fluently one after another. If during training you find that you’re getting continuously stuck on a specific type of maneuver, let your instructors know and take the initiative to put in some extra practice. Getting dinged for taking too long is usually because the Assessor suspects you don't know what you are doing.
Minor Discrepancy-Forgetting to lock off your I'D
TACS: "descending device not locked off or no control of the tail rope;"
This one is easy to forget! If you're suspended on your I'D or other descender and decide to take your hand off the rope to perform a task, make sure you lock your I'D off! This safety mechanism prevents slippage. If it's unlocked, you better be sure that you have your hand on the tailing section of the rope so that in case there is a sudden drop, you've got yourself covered. This is just a minor discrepancy but if you get into the habit of not locking off, you'll find yourself without a certification.
Which brings us to the next section of this blog:
How do you make the most out of the 4 training days at Pacific Ropes and succeed your assessment?
This first tip is actually about something you can do before training even starts:
There is A LOT of material to get through before assessment day, and it is dense. IRATA’s ‘Training, Assessment, and Certification Scheme (TACS) is 64 pages, and their ‘International Code of Practice for Industrial Rope Techs’ (ICOP) is 276 pages! You don’t necessarily need to memorize both these documents, but on assessment day you may be asked to identify which document you’d refer to, to find a specific piece of information.
Training days are long and physically demanding, and you would be helping yourself out a lot if you read through and familiarized yourself with these documents before day one of your training.
Some other tips to consider:
- Get enough sleep. You’re going to need it.
- If you don’t know what the instructor is asking you to do, ask for clarification.
- If you’re still unsure, ask again. Never just ‘wing it’ or start doing something you’re unsure of.
- Exercise self-awareness and identify the maneuvers you’re having problems with. Let your trainers know, and then practice, practice, practice.
- Avoid defensiveness. You may be asked to explain a move you know you’ve done correctly. You’re being tested. The Assessor may decide to test your confidence and knowledge-base. They want to make sure you’re not just following steps blindly, but really know what you’re doing and why. So if they ask, just calmly walk them through the maneuver you just did. It’s all good!
- Pay attention, stay focused, and give it your all as you train with us. Practice confidence, not arrogance. When you reach assessment day, stay calm and don’t second guess yourself.
If you have any questions about anything we brought up in this blog, feel free to reach out. For a full list of our upcoming training dates, go here: