Rope Tech Story: Richie and L3 Supervisors
For some words from an IRATA trainer, company manager, and seasoned L3, I spoke with Richard Spence from RAC for some more personal insight on the matter of bringing up L3’s. RAC has created their own program for managing L2’s (L2’s graduate to LEAD L2’s if RAC sees fit) and preparing them for the responsibilities of taking on a supervisory role.
So, without further ado, here’s Richie:
What was the reason you felt it was necessary to create "lead L2's" on your contracting end (RAC makes an employee division between L1, L2, LEAD L2, L3)?
This was originally from an equipment use point of view. With certain pieces of equipment being deemed for 'expert use only' by the manufacture. We deemed that 'lead 2's' and up where expert.
That then spurred on what we thought of as a Lead 2. Building a program that was finalized by an in-house assessment. It is a tangible process tech can read and see and work towards. This was developed with the process our level 3's mentoring level 2's and creating strong leads. Which we discovered very quickly benefitted everyone involved as they progressed to level 3.
What are the benefits to "inviting" someone to be an L3?
There is so much more to being a level 3 than the rope tricks we learn in a training center. There are people that perform well in a 'controlled' environment such as a training center, but work life is much different. Both in working with crews and clients. Having an L3 ticket does not always mean you are good at the politics of the role. When you invite people, you know you have had to mentored people to develop the characteristics needed.
What are the characteristics of a great L3 in your opinion?
Confidence without arrogance. Being able to balance the needs of the crew with the demands of the company and or client.
What do you look for in an L2 in order for them to be invited to become an L3?
Our in house lead level 2 process takes care of this. To be invited as a L3 you have to have gone through the lead 2 program.
Where do you see IRATA and SPRAT headed as associations when it comes to dictating training? Perhaps instituting a more comprehensive training program for L3’s?
IRATA already have a more comprehensive program in the works. This has been talked about at a few conferences now. Having additional training from managers and site supervisors. But also the companies need to take this on also. Whether you are an L3 or a foreman or manager the onus is on the person or company putting them in that role. Courses like, 'leadership and safety excellence' is a basic two day course which can really show the person what is required.
For the associations they have to cover all aspects, from small companies doing basic building maintenance to large companies running big crews in heavy industry. The company needs to employ the right person with relevant qualifications and experience, and or invest in the person. Expecting a rope ticket to be enough is the wrong attitude.
Where do you identify certain companies going wrong when they are bringing up Rope Access technicians? I am always curious about how companies are working to groom their L2’s for supervisory roles or if they are at all.
Like before you have to invest in the guys. Mentor them with senior people and provide additional training or courses as required.
Do you think training should be longer in order to make sure we have enough time to really cover the training issues that L3's need?
The TACS states it well, you have to be competent at the level you are at before trying to upgrade. The responsibility is on the rope tech. Lots of people are lacking skills and are in self denial or just don't understand that. If they come in and need retrained at the level they are at, then yes training needs to be more. But then why are they trying to upgrade? That can make the difference between a good trainer and a great one. Being able to show and tell someone they are just simply not ready.
What is your advice to L2’s who want to become 3’s- how can they prepare for the increased responsibility?
Shadow a few level 3's. Good 3's will happily show you what is required and explain the decisions they make. If there is a mentorship program use it to the fullest and don't try and rush through it. Get involved in the paperwork and ask questions. Why is it needed, what is required from it. If you are able and allowed sit in quietly on meetings.
What would you add to the IRATA L3 training curriculum?
For IRATA the technical skills is not a massive jump. But there could be more emphasizes on the paperwork and job planning. Even how they run and perform in the team exercises. SPRAT could do the same, but the technical skills have a bigger requirement between L2 and L3 also.
How do you ensure your L2’s are getting the on-site training they need to be ready for the L3 exam?
Our lead level 2 policy and assessment does that.
How do you think we are going to rectify the shortage of L3's in Canada?
Time. This should not be rushed. We will end up with inexperienced 3's and someone will get hurt. It is a hard process and difficult to run when you struggle to get level 3's. But for the industry we need to grow it well as many clients are new to rope access and don't understand it. The apparent risk they see scares many. If there is an influx of inexperienced level 3's it will scare many clients away and harm the industry.
Thanks for reading and thank you so much to Richie who was awesome enough to share his opinion with me for this piece! Great insights.
For a little more info on how to be a great L3, click below!