Saturday, March 22, 2014

Understanding "Pitched Roof Rope Access"

Pitched Roofing System Rope Access


Pitched Roof System Rope Access is the safest and the most effective means for workers to gain access of a pitched roofing system. A form of rope access for Property Claims Adjusters, Forensic Engineers, Home Inspectors, maintenance and service providers that allows them to construct a system of fall protection from the safety of ground level that will provide them with the access that they need to complete their work.

What Is The General History Of Rope Access?:

The worldwide Rope Access Community began to get organized in the late 80’s with the founding of IRATA (the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association). IRATA started out as a rope access resource in the UK for the offshore Oil & Gas Industry however since then has merged into the mainstream of most all industries who struggle on a daily basis with work that is difficult to access.

1996 marked the emergence of SPRAT (the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians) a North American group of rope access professionals who were tired of getting hassled by OSHA for using rope access equipment and techniques on the job site that would have otherwise required massive amounts of scaffolding to complete.

SPRAT’s “Safe Practices for Rope Access Work” is THE North American Rope Access Worker’s Constitution. It is the most valid assembly of rope access information based on the consensus of the leaders of the North American Rope Access Industry.   It is also very similar to that which is documented in IRATA’s “International Code of Practice”.

ACRABAT (The Association for Certified Rope Access Building Assessment Technicians) was created in 2008 by Property Claims Adjusters were fed up with being forced to inspect the increasingly aggressive pitched roofing systems of the modern housing construction industry.

ACRABAT is currently the only professional association dedicated to developing guidelines for rope access on “Pitched Roof” systems that operates within the SPRAT standards for “Safe Practices for Rope Access Work”. ACRABAT currently holds the lead seat in SPRAT’s committee for developing pitched roof rope access guidelines under the category of “Buildings and Urban Environments”.

Pitched roof specific rope access guidelines will establish much needed criteria for equipment, worker management, standard operating procedures and training , slated to be available sometime in 2014.

WHO Is OSHA And What Is Their Opinion Of Rope Access?:

OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) an agency of The United States Department of Labor, was established in 1971 to reduce the rate of worker injuries and fatalities by setting and enforcing safety standards within the workplace. OSHA impact on safety within the workplace is an estimated 84.5% reduction in worker fatalities (based on comparison of worker fatalities from 1970 – 2009) .

Fact: Human Beings in general are willing to put themselves at great risk for injury in order to provide for the financial wellbeing of themselves and their families. To put it in its simplest terms, OSHA put all employers on notice that there would be real consequences for exploiting this human tendency.

Please Note:  Rope Access is a relatively new concept that has only been around for a couple of decades now and is NOT YET recognized by OSHA 1926.500 standards for fall protection.

However, since 1996, SPRAT has successfully taken on OSHA by educating them and getting them to agree to what is called a “variance” for rope access as a valid form of fall protection.  To qualify for this so called “variance” employers must comply with what is written in SPRAT’s signature standards document; “Safe Practices for Rope Access Work”.

WHO Is ANSI And What Is Their Opinion Of Rope Access?:

ANSI (American National Standards Institute) was started over 100 years ago when they began assembling a system of voluntary safety standards based on science and fact. Today, ANSI is recognized as the most professional and valid North American safety standards organization. ANSI has established standards for Fall Protection as well listed under the title of ANSI Z359..  When it comes to the topic of Fall Protection, ANSI safety standards are considered so valid that OSHA in fact will often simply copy and paste them into their own 1926.500 updates.

Please Note:  Rope Access is not yet formally recognized by ANSI under their “Fall Protection” code yet…HOWEVER, ANSI has announced that Z359 will be updated this year to include Z359.8 Rope Access Systems, which will finally sanction the use of Rope Access as a form of fall protection as it is outlined in SPRAT’s “Safe Practices for Rope Access Work”.

What Does The Future of Pitched Roof Rope Access Look Like?:

“Rope & Harness” / Rope Access certification is a very valuable tool for all Property Claims Adjusters AND one of the hottest topics at this year’s PLRB (Property & Liability Resource Bureau) conference (the nation’s largest Insurance claims education & exhibition event). Property Claims service employers are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that a properly trained  rope access workforce offers significant reductions in worker injuries AND the negative consequences associated with product liability.

Please Note: Claim decisions made on roofing systems without the benefit of human access and touch are difficult at best to justify.

Choose Your Rope Access Certification Vendor Wisely: Do not select a rope access training company that does not base their program on the foundation of what has been established by IRATA or SPRAT.