Pacific Ropes Blog

IRATA OR SPRAT

IRATA or SPRAT? Which certification is right for me? This is a good question to ask and we’ll try to keep our answer simple enough to help you make a decision!

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Let's start with a brief history of each association. IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) is based in the UK and it remains the world’s longest standing Rope Access association to date. IRATA is undoubtedly considered the most well-established Rope Access body internationally with over 350 member companies around the world
(and counting!). The IRATA system is also distinctly known for its rigorous technical audit for their operating members, which ensures the IRATA standard of quality assurance/quality control among its members (operators/training facilities).

SPRAT operates according to a different system of membership altogether. Although today a SPRAT ticket is increasingly gaining global recognition and membership, SPRAT certification is still principally recognized in North America.

As far as operating and training membership is concerned, SPRAT is not a technically audited association and its membership requirements are much less scrupulous (in fact there is no comparison here).  This has worked to grow SPRAT’S number of member companies abroad and with that broadened the employment opportunities for Rope Access technicians internationally; however, without compulsory audits, Rope Access practice is not guaranteed in any uniform sense across job sites and member companies.

As a company, you only need to refer to your local regulations to determine if you can hire SPRAT or IRATA certified employees or if you are bound to just one. Another element is to determine what your clients/industry prefer as well.

If you're considering getting a rope access certification, we've outlined a few questions to ask yourself that may help you make that decision.

 

Where do I want to work?

If you plan on travelling and working abroad, IRATA will help you get there. IRATA is recognized globally, which will help you get your foot in the door with companies worldwide. SPRAT is recongized mainly in North America. 

Who do I want to work for?

Which employers are you trying to get in with? What industry are you working in? Do some research as some industries cater to one certification over another while others don't care. For example, oil and gas require IRATA only whereas building maintenance or wind energy are indifferent. Bridge engineering in the states are all about SPRAT! Keep in mind that if you want to work for an IRATA member company, they can only hire techs with IRATA certifications. Whereas if you work for a SPRAT member company, they will take both IRATA or SPRAT. 

What are my career goals?

Is rope access just a side certification that you need for a certain job or do you plan on taking a more active role in it as move forward with your career? Rope access certification is available in three levels. This is for both IRATA and SPRAT. At a level 1, you can learn how to operate yourself in a rope access system, which allows you to access a certain area to perform whatever work you'll be doing. As you advance up to level 2 and level 3, you are trained to complete more complex rigging and rescue scenarios. By the time you're at level 3, you are able to manage and run a rope access team on any site. If anything happens to your team, you have the ability to implement a rescue scenario. So, knowing this, is this something you want to add to your skills and responsibilities? Or, are you okay with focusing on your main job? 

Why does this matter? Because there is a difference between IRATA and SPRAT on how fast you can move up levels.

IRATA requires you to have 1000 rope hours and at least 1 year of work experience before upgrading while SPRAT requires 500 rope hours and 6 months of work experience.

Other than these main questions, the IRATA and SPRAT cirriculum are similar in terms of what you will learn. We've broken down the syllabus of each one and highlighted the differences to give you an idea. At the end of the day though, the levels between both are synchronous.

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LEVEL 1 IRATA ASSESSMENT

  • Equipment use and inspection
  • Back-up devices handling
  • Ascent
  • Descent
  • Changeovers
  • Decent using ascenders
  • Ascent using descender
  • Use of work seats
  • Passing knots
  • Rope-to-rope transfer
  • Deviations (redirect)
  • Re-belays
  • Edge obstruction at top (Negotiating an edge)
    Passing mid-rope protection
  • Basic anchor system
  • Pick-off (casualty descending)
  • Climbing with fall arrest lanyards
  • AID CLIMBING USING FIXED ANCHORS
  • AID CLIMBING USING MOBILE ANCHORS

 

LEVEL 1 SPRAT EVALUATION:

  • Equipment use and inspection
  • Back-up device handling
  • Ascent
  • Descent
  • Changeovers
  • Descent using ascenders
  • Ascent using descender
  • Use of work seats
  • Passing knots
  • Rope-to-Rope transfer
  • Deviation (redirect)
  • Re-belays
  • Negotiate Edge
  • Install/pass rope protection
  • Simple structural anchor
  • Pick-Off (casualty descending)
  • Climbing with fall arrest lanyards
  • BELAYING W/COMMUNICATION
  • LOWERING

 

LEVEL 2 IRATA ASSESSMENT

  • Load sharing anchors (Y hangs)
  • Pull through anchors
  • HANGING HAUL (EXTRA ROPE)
  • CROSS HAULING
  • Pick-off (Casualty ascending)
  • TENSIONED ROPES
  • WORK RESTRAINT/HORIZONTAL LIFELINES
  • SMALL REBELAY RESCUE
  • ROPE-TO-ROPE TRANSFER RESCUE
  • RESCUE FROM AID TRAVERSE
  • RESCUE THROUGH DEVIATION

LEVEL 2 SPRAT EVALUATION:

  • Load sharing anchors (Y hangs)
  • Pull through anchors
  • RESCUE HAULING: PITCH HEAD
  • CROSS HAULING (TEAM EXERCISE)
  • Pick-off (causality ascending)
  • AID CLIMBING (IRATA 1)
  • FRICTION HITCHES

 

LEVEL 3 IRATA ASSESSMENT

  • Risk assessments
  • Methods statement
  • Team rescues
  • Tensioned Ropes Rescue through large re-belay
  • Rescue descent passing ropes
  • BREAKING INTO A TIGHT ROPE
  • SHORT LINK RESCUE

LEVEL 3 SPRAT EVALUATION

  • RESCUE FROM AID (IRATA 2)
  • RESCUE PAST DEVIATION (IRATA 2)
  • Job safety analysis
  • Management and communication
  • Team rescue/Work scenario
  • Tensioned lines
  • Rescue through re-belay
  • Rescue Decent passing knots
  • ANCHORS PRE-RIGGED TO LOWER
  • MECHANICAL ANCHOR SYSTEM

 

Keeping all of this in mind, when you chose IRATA certification, you open yourself up to diverse (and arguably more) global job opportunity, hiring compliance with all IRATA operators, and you represent a longstanding history of superlative safety practice. You are also required to have more hours on rope by the time you are an L3, so some may argue that IRATA technicians typically have more hours and therefore more experience on rope. An investment in IRATA is truly an investment in becoming a member of the comprehensive IRATA system, with the added benefit of being qualified to work for a SPRAT member company as well.  SPRAT offers you a similar certification process, but with fewer hours required of you to work through to the 3 Level certification system and with hiring exclusivity within the SPRAT system only. Job opportunity for SPRAT graduates is growing globally but you will not qualify to work for IRATA operating companies.

From the perspective of Pacific Ropes, taking the dual certification option opens you up to the greatest amount of career opportunity and Rope Access expertise. It gives you geographic freedom, employment flexibility, and technical competency in both systems.  

If this is not an option for you, just be sure to do some leg work and research what career path you wish to take in Rope Access and which certification system is required of you. At the end of the day, both are excellent choices and carry great integrity and safety records within their associations.

Ready to learn more about your choices? Check out our training pages!

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IRATA Training         SPRAT Training         DUAL Training

 

 

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