When it comes to selecting, using, and maintaining rope access equipment, in depth procedures must in place to ensure that the integrity of rope access equipment is maintained. It is crucial to safety that any rope access equipment used for work is fit and equipped for it's intended use. Below are a few procedures and processes that should be in place for any rope access team.
When selecting equipment for rope access work, an assessment is conducted to ensure the equipment is meant for it's intended use by the manufacturer. The individual selecting the equipment to be used for rope access work will also consider the consequences of misuse of that equipment. This ensures equipment is not misused by the rope access team and consequently causing an incident on site.
If you are considering implementing rope access in your operations, it is imperative that there is someone qualified and competent to select and manage any rope access equipment.
In addition to selecting equipment that is meant for it's intended use, it is also important to select equipment that meets the legal requirements in the country of use. The standards chosen should be applicable to rope access usage. Sometimes a combination of standards is required to cover all the specific uses of rope access equipment.
Generally, if a certain piece of equipment does not fit into the current version of the standards you are using, a request for variance is required.
Whoever is in charge of selecting rope access equipment for a team should be conversant in the standards that apply.
It goes without saying that anyone using rope access equipment should be trained to do so. This falls under the training safety element of using rope access.
If there is a new piece of equipment or if a technician does not know how to use a certain piece of equipment, they will need to be trained according to the manufacturer's instructions before proceeding work.
Going back to the principle of double protection, equipment attached to a technician's harness should also be backed up to avoid any accidental drops.
There are three types of inspections that should be conducted regularly to determine if a piece of rope access gear is safe to use.
A pre-use check is a visual and tactile inspection carried out before using the equipment for the first time during a shift or after a break.
A detailed inspection is a more formal inspection and is usually done by a competent and trained person. This involves a recorded, thorough inspection of the equipment and is done at least every 6 months.
A interim inspection is also done by a competent and trained person in the event that the piece of equipment was used under arduous conditions or heavy wear and tear. This is also done if the equipment was involved in an incident. However, any equipment involved in a high impact force such as a fall should be removed from service immediately.
Maintaining rope access equipment involves tracing each piece of gear and keeping records of its' activity. This includes any inspections, usage, work conditions, purchase date, service date, expiry date, duration of use, any repairs and servicing, and incidents. Keeping detailed records will provide confidence in the capabilities of that piece of equipment. Knowing the history and lifespan of your equipment ensures there is no danger is utilizing it for work at height.
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