It appears as though a few assumptions are being made here and I wanted to provide the straight and skinny for all you “free thinkers” out there who are interested in locating a “Rope & Harness” program that will yield the greatest return on your investment.
the very first thing that you should know about the worldwide Rope Access Community is that they 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.
Please Note: Rope Access is a relatively new concept that has only been around for a couple of decades now and 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. However, however…, in order 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”.
Hint: Google and read “Safe Practices for Rope Access Work”, I promise that it will yield you information that is waaaaaaayyyyyy more valuable than “ the “fall arrest” technique” that our pondman has referred us to.
SPRAT’s “Safe Practices for Rope Access Work” is THE North American Rope Access Worker’s bible. 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”.
Moving right along, it would now be appropriately pertinent to introduce ANSI (American National Standards Institute) yet another major player on the field of fall protection standards. ANSI 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 AND they have established standards for Fall Protection as well / 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 HOWEVER…….and I love this part…… 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”.
Is everyone following me so far??? Does anyone need a break???...... OK then I guess it is time to move along to this nasty little debate over who’s opinion matters the most when it comes to the proper use of a “Grigri”.
ANSWER: THE MANUFACTURER!
Why Would The Manufacturer Know More About Their Own Product Than Let’s Say pondman or anyone else for that matter Would? : (A bit rhetorical in nature but ok…lets go there) The manufacturer is the one that (through their team of engineers) created this product and has the very best perspective on the product’s capabilities and limitations.
What Does The Grigri’s Manufacturer Have To Say About Proper Use?: Petzl is the manufacturer of the grigri and they categorize it as a “belay device / descender” used by one person to secure the climb of another. Petzl does not sanction its use by a single person to secure their own rope access system. A grigri’s ability to lock onto a single point along a lifeline is dependent on a spring loaded cam that rests in the open / unlocked position, it lacks any locking feature that provides the redundancy required to complete rope access work in a hands-free manner. If a rope access worker were to use a grigri as a primary belay device in a hands-free manner, (like we would to inspect a roof when it came time to run a tape measure, write on a clip board, complete a test square etc…) and unintentionally introduced slack into their lifeline system, the grigri’s spring loaded cam would pop open and unfortunately allow our old nemesis Gravity to have its way with us. A Petzl “Rig” or a Petzl “ID” (a rig w/ training wheels as most call it because it incorporates additional safety features that prevents failure when loaded backwards and an overzealous descending hand) is a much better choice for a rope access descender because they include lockable handles that allows us the security of hands-free work with the blessing of the manufacturer. Yea for us!!!
OK Then Smarty Pants, What does OSHA, ANSI, SPRAT & IRATA Have To Say About This?: All of these organizations agree that workers should NEVER, deviate from the manufacturer’s instructions for use, care and retirement. ANY person or organization who would knowingly or unknowingly encourage, train or advise others to use ANY safety equipment in ANY manner other than that which it was engineered is courting disastrous consequences.
In Closing: I would state that “Rope & Harness” / Rope Access certification is a very valuable tool for Property Claims Adjusters AND one of the hottest topics at this year’s PLRB conference (the nation’s largest Insurance claims education & exhibition event that took place on Mon & Tue of this week).
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. ACRABAT (The Association for Certified Rope Access Building Assessment Technicians) 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.
PS - I believe the picture you were referring to was that of some rope access trainees using a Petzl "Rig" descender that was backed up with a 6.5 mm prusik cord, not a "Grigri"
"Look Ma No Hands"!