Do I have to Use a Two Rope System? [OHS 34.6]
WorkSafe BC defines a two-rope system as:
“a rope access system that includes a working line and a safety, secondary, belay or backup line.”
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be referring to the safety, secondary, belay or backup line as the ‘secondary line’ for the rest of this post. Read in these other terms as appropriate.
In a two-rope system, your secondary line must be independently connected both to the system’s anchor or anchorage and to a single connection point on the rope tech’s harness (your working line must be independently attached to a different connection point on your harness, that way if that connection point malfunctions/breaks you won’t lose your connection to both lines).
Do not attach your secondary line to a sternal connection point (close to the sternum, aka your chest, breast bone area) on a full body harness. This area of your body is fragile and if your fall factor is high, the impact from the catch from your rope system could crack your ribs and cause damage to some pretty importance organs in that area. Your sacrum and femur bones are two of the strongest bones in your body, and can take a hit without getting easily damaged. The area around your hips is an ideal place to attach both of your lines (but don’t forget those separate connection points).
That said, there are some full body harnesses that have been designed with sternal connection points that are actually safe for you to use. The manufacturer will specify this on the equipment tags.
As a rope tech, you’ll primarily be using a two-rope system. There are some exceptions:
- You’re working at height, but your feet are still being supported by the ground or the structure. In this scenario, you’d be using a fall arrest system, not a rope access system.
- You’re mountaineering or caving, or practicing in a climbing gym (many rope techs get their start by doing these types of sports, and they all use a single rope system).
Have you read through the WorkSafe BC Regulations yet?
Read through the section most relevant to rope access (covering equipment, head gear, anchors, etc) here: