Recently, we've come across a few instances of fraudulent IRATA logbooks that have caused quite a stir within the IRATA community here in North America. These scenarios go beyond just getting certain hours deducted from your logbook and into the realm of deeming your logbook completely invalid.
If you've ever wondered why we're so picky about the way you write your information in your IRATA logbook, it's because a messy logbook gives the impression that you don't care. So when an IRATA Assessor takes a look at a messy logbook, they question how much time you've actually spent maintaining it and whether all the hours you're claiming are legitimate. This would be a concern if you're upgrading to Level 2 or Level 3 as you are required to log at least 1000 hours within a minimum of a year in order to be eligible for an upgrade. Some common characteristics of a messy logbook that we see:
- Not logging chronologically.
- Logging all hours at once (Assessors question the accuracy when you log all at once).
- Supervisors signing across the board (The step of validating hours and remembering all the shifts gets questioned if a Supervisor signs across the entries).
- Not including the information required.
- Putting more hours than normally expected. Ex. if you put 8 hours in one day, were you really working on rope all 8 hours? Did you not take breaks? Go to the bathroom? Talk to clients? Mob and de-mob?
- Incomplete signatures. This includes having a signature but no L3 number, or if you have a Manager signing them off, they don't put their contact information or their role.
- Rope Access maneuvers not written down.
- More than 2 weeks of working logged on a single line.
If an IRATA Assessor thinks some of your hours are misrepresented, this normally results in an interrogation about each entry of your logbook. Everything from who your L3 Supervisor was, to where they were on the actual locations, to when your breaks were, to what you ate for breakfast (okay maybe not the last one). Most will also take the extra step and call the L3 Supervisors, Managers, or Employers who have signed your book to confirm your hours, tasks, and responsibilities.
How is an IRATA logbook fraudulent?
Examples of instances where a logbook is considered fraudulent:
- If didn't actually work the hours you said you did.
- If you forge L3 Supervisor, Manager, or Employer signatures
- If the people who signed your book weren't physically at the job or part of your company at the time you logged your hours.
- If you wrote down more hours than you worked (claiming breaks and down time is a no-no).
The circumstances are situational but generally, your IRATA Assessor takes away your logbook and sends it to the IRATA head office for further investigation. Outcomes range between getting your IRATA certification reduced (example L3 to L2) to no longer having an IRATA certification. There have been cases where the L3 Supervisor who signed your logbook could also get involved and reprimanded for signing invalid hours.
Why the big fuss over logbooks anyway?
At our most recent IRATA North American Regional Advisory Committee meeting (fancy name for all the North American IRATA members getting together), the topic of fraudulent logbooks came up, which led to a discussion of why we even have logbooks. What purpose does it really serve and is it effective? According to IRATA TACS, section 4.13.4, it states:
"The purpose of the logbook is to record the rope access Technician’s experience and training undertaken, including the total hours engaged in rope access, the type and variety of work undertaken, and when the work took place. Rope access Technicians wishing to upgrade to Level 2 or Level 3 cannot be considered for assessment without a correctly maintained and up to date logbook."
So technically, our IRATA logbooks are meant to demonstrate that we've worked enough (1000 hours) in order to be ready for an upgrade. But does working all those hours determine if someone is ready for an upgrade or not?
Some rope access jobs require a technician to work on the same type of structures day in and day out. They don't end up utilizing or practicing all their maneuvers. So, when it's time for an upgrade, they may not be able to complete all skills in their current level 1 or level 2 curriculum because they don't use them all the time at work.
On the other hand, if you have a rope access job that exposes you to various different types of structures and the work you do requires you to utilize the majority of your skills, but you don't have the 1000 hours within the year, does that make you incompetent?
I think the purpose of using the logbook to measure amount of experience and competency is good, but it's not perfect. It doesn't measure depth of experience or quality of work. With our current IRATA assessment procedure, a wide depth of experience may be taken into consideration (you do have to record the type of work you do in your logbook) but it's not used to determine your eligibility for an upgrade.
If we take a moment now to think of the bigger picture, we can all agree that we want to have safe, responsible rope access technicians in the field. We want them to be capable and equipped with the right knowledge to do their work on rope and to participate in a safety-minded and efficient rope access team.
Will nit-picking poorly managed logbooks and condemning technicians' lack of detail in their entries advance us towards this bigger picture?
I mean, ultimately, a technician will still have to demonstrate all the skills in the practical assessment and their performance will truly show if they are ready or not. If someone can successfully demonstrate all the maneuvers within the syllabus even if they don't have the hours, why not let them upgrade? Why not put less emphasis on the logbook and implement more intense measures within the assessment procedure to determine what level 2 and level 3 rope techs should be like? Or, if we stick with the current logbook system, why not take depth of experience into consideration and quality of work as requirements for eligibility?
I'm not advocating for taking away the logbook. But perhaps we can re-arrange our focus on it and its' relation to the whole assessment experience in order to make it more effective for helping us towards achieving the bigger picture of training and certifying great rope access technicians.
At this point, there is no plan to change the way logbooks are used, not that we are aware of anyway. So unfortunately, what happens during the mornings on assessment days, is that you find your Assessor scrutinizing your logbook, down to the colour of pen you used rather than have a conversation about your work experience. Because if you truly were logging shifts as they occur, what is the likelihood that you have the same colour pen each time? And if you aren't logging your shifts as they occur, and doing it all at once subsequently, then how accurate is this information? Again, a messy logbook gives the impression of a lazy, not-so dedicated rope tech. Keep in mind, your Assessor has no idea who you are, so your first impression is your logbook.
So, if you're thinking of upgrading any time soon, take a look at your logbook and do yourself a favour and make sure it's in tip top shape. This will make whoever is assessing you super happy. And if they are super happy, that means a happy assessment for you!
I would love to hear your comments and questions on this so feel free to submit them below.
To get your logbook ready to go for an upgrade, click below: