Industrial rope access systems are used for gaining access to and working at a workface, usually by means of vertically suspended ropes. Although fall-arrest components are used in the industrial rope access system, the main purpose of the system is to gain access to a work area rather than to provide backup fall protection (see Figure 18).
Other methods of accessing a workface should be considered (for example, EWPs or building maintenance units) before rope access systems, as a high level of skill is needed for their safe use.
You should ensure that, where it is necessary for industrial rope access systems to be used:
- operators are competent in the technique
- operators do not work alone, in case they require assistance in an emergency
- industrial rope access systems are installed only in a location where it is possible to provide prompt assistance or rescue if required (refer to Chapter 9 of this Code)
- all equipment is checked regularly by a competent person
- prior to use, all fixed anchorage points are checked by a competent person before attaching the rope access lines
- a back up system is used to protect the operator
- two independently anchored ropes are used for each person
- any person within three metres of an unguarded edge is adequately secured
- all operators wear a full body harness
- supervisors can communicate with workers
- where necessary, appropriate personal protective equipment is used, such as helmets, gloves, hearing protection, goggles and masks
- barricades and signposts are placed on all access areas below the working area and anchorage locations to exclude and alert the public and tradespeople.
Further guidance on industrial rope access systems is available in AS/NZS 4488 Industrial rope access systems series.