IRATA Direct Entry
The requirements for IRATA direct entry are strict. In addition to the intense 4 day (minimum) technical training and two-day independent assessment you’ll be completing, you’ll also need to provide IRATA with evidence of your previous experience. This will include a detailed log book, references, and a letter of endorsement from us (your training member company). We’ll being going into further detail on these components in this blog post, plus some additional information you should be aware of.
IRATA created the direct entry system so that techs who have the relevant experience under other standards (like SPRAT) could qualify directly as an IRATA L2 or L3 tech, rather than starting from ground 0. They’re interested in expanding the number of technicians certified under IRATA and also the number of Training Member Companies who can offer this certification – especially in areas where the amount of IRATA certified techs is sparse.
The level of paperwork and scrutiny involved in this process is there to protect IRATA’s safe record and good reputation. They’re doing everything they can to ensure that the techs being awarded the IRATA certification can be entrusted with the responsibility of holding their standard.
If you don’t feel confident in your abilities, this process probably isn’t for you. Consider enrolling in a SPRAT to IRATA conversion training course, and attempting certification for your IRATA L1. From there, you’d proceed through their certification scheme as normal.
As your Training Member Company, IRATA holds us responsible for ensuring that you’re a suitable candidate before even starting the direct entry process. We will not sponsor you (ie. assume overall responsibility for you as a candidate) if you can’t support your application with all the necessary documentation, or if we don’t think you’ll be successful.
We’re not the only gatekeepers. Before training or assessment starts, your application, work experience documentation, and our letter of endorsement, will be sent to an IRATA verifier for approval or rejection (we may have previously contacted them for pre-vetting). If they’re unsure of your eligibility, they may consult with a second verifier and the Training Committee Chairman before making a decision. This additional consultation comes with a fee which you will be charged through us, if we’re you’re TMC.
Verifiers are appointed by the IRATA Executive Committee, and hold the same qualifications an IRATA assessor.
To be eligible for direct entry, you should have the same level of experience as an equivalent IRATA tech. Where your experience is obviously comparable, we may be able to fast track your application. Where it’s not so cut and dry (maybe you only have single rope experience), we’ll have to go through a longer process to prove your suitability, including a consultation with an IRATA verifier.
Here’s a list of the documentation you’ll need (ideally submitted in an electronic format):
- Work at Height CV
- First aid certificate (level 3 only)
- Validation of Hours
- Previous Work Log
- Employing company details
- Standard Operating Procedures
WORK AT HEIGHT CV
Your CV should include a succinct and detailed list of your at-height work history, and any at-height sports you enjoy and practice regularly (like caving or rock climbing). If you have military training, you could also include that. Listing your sport and military experience shows us that you’re likely competent and comfortable with heights. The hours spent doing either of these activities are not admissible as rope access hours and do not count towards the minimum amount of experience you’ll need to qualify.
If your applying for direct entry as an IRATA L3 tech, you’ll also need to provide your first aid certificate – listing its issue and expiry date on your CV.
VALIDATION OF HOURS
Speaking of logged hours, here’s how many you’ll need for each certification.
For direct entry into IRATA L2, you’ll need more than 1500 industrial rope access hours logged over a minimum of 18 months.
For direct entry into IRATA L3, you’ll need more than 2500 industrial rope access hours logged over a minimum of 24 months.
These hours should have been logged consistently over those time periods (IRATA doesn’t generally accept intense working periods with big breaks in-between). Most candidates log somewhere between 20-40 hours per week. More than that isn’t really credible.
There’s some good news! IRATA recognizes it may be difficult to verify all the hours they require, so they only need your references to validate a fraction of the hours you detail in your previous work log. Here’s a breakdown:
Validation of hours - summary
Previous work hours
Of which references must support
Admissible work hours include those where you were completing industrial rope access work using a double rope system that is comparable to the IRATA system of work. You can also log the hours spent:
- Working from double aid climb.
- Rigging double rope systems.
- Inspecting rope access equipment.
- Training people in the use of an industrial double rope access system.
Non-admissible work hours include time spent performing:
- Both professional and sporting caving, climbing, mountaineering, canyoning.
- Professional and voluntary rescue services including mountain rescue, emergency services
- International rescue organizations
- Military training
- Other categories of work at height including, fall arrest, cradles, scaffold, work restraint, single rope systems, tree work, training other forms of work at height.
PREVIOUS WORK LOG
You will need to create your own work log (preferably using Word or Excel), where you will present the following information, to show that you satisfy the minimum requirements for the level you’re attempting direct entry for.
- Date(s) – a list of individual or consecutive days worked. It’d be appropriate to write 'June 5-8, 2017’, but not simply ‘June’.
- Location – address of the work site (include the country).
- Type of site – ex. Residential 1960’s tower block, concrete water tower, football stadium under construction, etc. Be specific.
- Approx. height – max height you worked at (in metres).
- Position – ex. Supervisor, tech, instructor, etc.
- Access method – ex. Double rope abseil, aid climb on wire strops, retractable fall arrest, work restraint, etc.
- Work – details of type of work you did. Ex. Painting roof truss, removing loose concrete, etc.
- Employing company – full contact details including website. See below for additional information on this section.
- Hours – for each day or run of consecutive days. Only include the hours actually spent performing rope access duties (ex. Time spent working in suspension, rigging, inspecting, or training others). Usually this is around 2/3 - ¾ of the total hours you were on site.
- Validation – ideally from an IRATA L3, but this could also be from your supervisor or manager. Clearly print their name, position in the company, and contact details. We may be contacting them.
EMPLOYING COMPANY DETAILS
If we and/or the verifier aren’t familiar with one of the employing companies listed on your work log, you’ll have to explain who they are, and how rope access is used within their core business. This can be written out on a separate sheet of paper that also includes their contact details and website. You could also submit their brochure. This will give us and the verifier perspective on your work history.
You’ll also need to provide us with references from your current or previous employers, listing their contact information and position. Your references will be asked to confirm the hours you spent working at height, and the type of work you were doing (for example, verifying that yes, a double rope system was used during your logged hours).
*Remember that your references only need to verify a fraction of your logged hours. Refer to the table under ‘validation of hours’ for clarification.
If you’re applying for direct entry as an IRATA L3, you will also need to submit 2 statements from your previous or present employers recommending you for a work team supervisory position. Regardless of if you have experience as a supervisor, these statements are mandatory.
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
There’s just one last thing you will need to submit as evidence to legitimize the hours you’ve logged. From one of the companies you’ve included as a reference, you’ll need to submit the authorized and relevant sections of their operating procedures.
If this is not possible, a self-certified Standard Operating Procedure can be used, signed by you at the bottom. In your own words, this document should include
- The operating procedures used in relation to your references
- The technical work method (including risk assessment and method statement if available)
- Equipment used
- Team structure
- Inspection regime
- Any prior training and rescue provision.
- Photographs showing the work method used (if available)
Your training will cover all aspects of the syllabus for the level your certifying for, and for any preceding levels. There will also be a lecture on the ‘IRATA International Code of Practice for Industrial Rope Access, which will go over the material covered in this blog post and its source material.
The training will be take place over a minimum of 4 days.
Your assessment will take place over 2 days, and will include written and physical (on the ropes) elements, plus an interview with the assessor where your knowledge of the IRATA system of work will be tested (if your previous system of work was different from IRATAs, you’ll need to show that you understand the changes/adjustments you’ll now need to make).
Your assessor will be independent of you, your employer, and your TMC. There will be no existing relationship or familiarity with the assessor that could impact the results.
There’s a reason this assessment is 2 days instead of one. Get ready to be assessed on all aspects of the syllabus, including those specified for the levels preceding the one you’re certifying for. That means, if you’re a direct entry L3 candidate, you’ll be assessed on all the dark and grey boxes listed as part of the L3, L2, and L1 IRATA syllabus (with the exception of exact duplications). No assumptions will be made about your ability in any area.
In the written portion of the assessment, you’ll be asked to demonstrate your understanding of training, supervision, team structure, relevant legislation, equipment, certification, traceability, inspection, risk assessment, safe working methods, tools, communications and rescues.
In all other ways, this functions as a typical assessment. 3 minor discrepancies, or 1 major discrepancy, and you’re out. Throughout your training, we’ll be there to make sure you’re ready and that you have all the tools you need to succeed.