Pacific Ropes Blog

Understanding the IRATA L1 Syllabus: Assembly of Personal Equipment, and ‘Buddy’ Checks

At the start of every rope access shift, you’ll need to suit yourself up with a wide variety of equipment (the higher your IRATA level, the more equipment you’ll likely be using for work), and prepare your rope system for work. There’s a lot of moving parts. That’s why one of things you’ll be tested on, is your ability to fit and assemble your rope access and fall arrest equipment – including demonstrating that you know how to tie, dress, and set a knot (especially those used for attaching ropes to anchors, or how to create a knotted ‘cow’s tail’ lanyard.

Buddy checks are an added precautionary measure to ensure everything has been done right. Mistakes happen, but hopefully a second set of eyes will make those mistakes a lot less likely.

During your IRATA Assessment, all levels will be asked to demonstrate competence performing a ‘buddy’ check of a fellow rope tech who’s wearing similar equipment.

L2 and L3 certifying techs will be asked to demonstrate competence fitting and assembling a variety of rope access equipment for themselves and others.

At the beginning of your assessment, all the equipment will be separated into their component parts. Helmets together, harnesses together, etc. From there, your assessor will be watching to make sure that you…

  • Make the correct selection for your rope access needs
  • Appropriately fit and adjust your harness
  • Connect all the components to their appropriate attachment points (this is where knots may come in handy. )
  • Correctly use the various categories of harness, and correctly use all harness attachment points.

In order to make sure that you really know what you’re looking for, your assessor may introduce ‘faults’ (probably using tape) on your buddy’s equipment for you to identify, but this is not super common.

During your training week, we’ll go into further detail on the purpose and benefits of ‘buddy’ checks, and the issues that might be identified by following through on this very important rope access habit/routine.

Additional resources to check out:

TACS 6.3.5 for the source material for this blog.

ICOP Part 2, 2.10 for more information on inspection, care, and maintenance of equipment

ICOP Part 2, 2.11.5 for more information on the use of knots


This is part of an ongoing series, where we’re breaking down IRATA’s syllabus and clarifying exactly what ‘demonstrating competence’ and ‘demonstrating awareness’ means, and what will be expected of you on assessment day. To learn more about the rest of the IRATA L1 Syllabus, click below:

Succeed your IRATA L1


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