Thursday, February 16, 2012

The 411 On Adjuster Fall Protection Training / Rope & Harness

Fall Protection Training – Most Property Adjusters with three plus years of experience have (on their own and out of necessity) incorporated half a dozen “Rope & Harness”  techniques that allow for varying degrees of high angle roof access. Our industry’s leaders have coined the term “Rope & Harness” to represent the process required for high angle access roofs that exceed the capabilities of the “Cougar Paw”.  The term “Rope & Harness” is however, part of the problem because it represents an oversimplification of Fall Protection training (as defined by ANSI) much in the same way that “Road & Throttle” would be an oversimplification of the act of driver education training. Wade through the million plus man hours that went into ANSI’s Fall Protection Code and you find a whole new language that very few adjusters have come to understand.  

Several major Insurance carriers currently require specific percentages of Independent adjusters with “formalized rope and harness training” from the independent companies with whom they contract. My predictions for the future encompass all carriers replacing such verbiage to that which bears greater resemblance to ANSI based Fall Protection standards and then eventually to ANSI standards that will be written and adopted specifically for our own unique (roof inspection) industry (similar to the Window Washing Industry who now has their own ANSI Standards that encompass fall protection).

 Numerous lifeline assisted roof inspection advancements (too numerous to mention in this blog) in equipment, set-up and technique have taken place in the last two years alone. If you have not used a “pivot line”, have no idea how to build a portable anchor, or never even heard of a “rope caddy” then you are missing out on just three of many tools that have already made a significant industry wide impact on individual risk management strategy.

AVOID  the “Rubber Stamp” Rope & Harness training programs created primarily as a knee-jerk response to the carrier’s recent “formalized training” requirements. The fact that they even call themselves “Rope & Harness” should be your first clue that they have not put much research or effort into building a complete, accurate or effective curriculum for keeping you safe. Remember, the best strategies for preventing injuries and fatalities are created by those whose very lives depend on them, not the big business executives who face little more personal risks than a coffee stain on their favorite tie.

What you should consider before purchasing a Rope Access training program:

Is the training entity qualified to be providing Rope Access Training?

Does the training entity openly display the qualification of their rope access training instructors or have they simply saddled their in-house Xactimate or adjuster 101 training instructor with this extra task?
Does the training entity provide an appropriate training facility venue to duplicate the variety of pitch and height that we as property adjusters are likely to encounter within the theater of our claims?
Does the training entity incorporate skills testing as a means for ensuring that their participants can duplicate class training objectives in the field?
Is the training entity’s equipment use curriculum consistent with manufacturer’s recommendations for the products that they use?  
Will the independent company you hope to work for accept the training program you plan to complete?

Does the training entity allow all who enter the program to pass and will the participants that do pass receive a certificate of successful completion for their own personal records?

BEWARE: Most Independent Company who provide this type of training in house WILL NOT provide documentation of rope access training for liabillity reasons and to prevent their independents from using it for employment with another company.
R&H certification can pay big dividends but can be very pricey to obtain ($300 - $1200 class cost plus travel and lodging) don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong program.
In the spring of 2011 we attended a  one day Rope & Harness training Oklahoma being held by a well known independent company. This company was looking to rapidly expand their roster of "Rope & Harness" workers by providing free classes at their recently expanded training center. What we witnessed and documented with over 100 photos was shocking:
1) An instructor who showed up with an undeclared Managed Fall Protection credential status.

2) A collection of incorrectly tied knots instructed as such in the classroom AND applied to the lifelines that the trainees were required to climb on.
Improperly Tied Anchor Knot (Water Knot)
Correctly Tied Anchor Knot (Water Knot)
Improperly Constructed Prusik Cord
Correctly Constructed Prusik Cord
3) Ladders w/ no rating that appeared to be unsuitable for the 250 lb + participants who climbed on them.
1/2 of a Type II or Type III Ladder?

4) Independent company trainer improperly instructing their adjusters on how to apply a seat harness and load an ATC (acronym for Air Traffic Controller belay device). 
Harness Manufacturers Instructions on Properly Fastened Buckles
Participant Belaying Instructor w/ Incorrectly Applied Sport Climbing Harness
Leg Loop Inside Out and Buckles Not Double Passed!
Instructor Belaying Student w/ Improperly Loaded ATC

Manufacturers Instructions on How To Properly Load Their ATC
5) Impropper use of ridge protectors causing severe damage to ridge cap and lifeline ropes.
Asphalt Ground Into Lifeline Rope
At a separate Independent company’s training facility in the Dallas area, we have witnessed rope and harness programs instructing their participants to use a Grigri descender (quite possibly the most popular belay device for roof inspection) in a hands-free fashion.  
Recreated Picture of Dallas R&H Training Promotional Website Photo
Grigri Manufacturer's Warning Against Hands-Free Use
Such behavior is not only sufficient evidence that these companies are unqualified to provide this form of high risk training, it also represents the equivalent of first hand testimony that their instructors didn’t even take the time to read the equipment manufacturers product use manual! 
Knowledge and tangible tools are the most powerful of resources with respect to all aspects of an independent’s career but just like any resource, you cannot use what you do not own. Successful Independents have come to understand that tools and knowledge are investments that should be selected based on their probability for return, not on the price tag for acquiring them.  

Take The Time To Choose Your Managed Fall Protection Training Company Wisely, Your Very Life Is Depending On It!