Industrial Abseilers – Thrillseekers or Trained Specialists ?
Abseilers are the people that you see hanging from ropes on cliffs, mountains, caves, and nowadays, high rise buildings. They are suspended on a series of two ropes that are then separately anchored onto the structure of the building. So how did this come about ?
An abseiler may be seen as an extreme sport enthusiast. Whether it’s in mountains or caves, many people have taken up abseiling to have a lot of fun. It provides great views of the terrain, a little bit of an adrenaline rush and is completely safe because of the equipment and training required to become an abseiler.
There are some, though, who have decided to turn that sport into a profession. They have become building maintenance technicians who use ‘rope access’ (the general term for commercial or industrial abseiling) to get to hard to reach areas of buildings, particularly those where rope access is the only way to work at height. It has become something of growing fascination as more and more rope access companies are coming into view.
These abseiling maintenance technicians are in high demand since they offer maintenance and repair services for buildings much more competitively priced when compared to other high access methods such as scaffolding. They are truly adventurers AND trained specialists.
Twenty years ago, a group formed to help these abseilers with their rope access businesses and IRATA was formed. The International Rope Access Trade Association helped more abseilers to become trained and certified to assist with the trade and reduce incidents even further. Since the launch of IRATA in the United Kingdom in 1988, there has been an enviable safety record, considering the potential risk if the rope access specialists were poorly trained.
The training is conducted safely and they are certified as a level one, two, three by IRATA. When they go up, they are harnessed in. They are tied to two separate ropes. The anchor on each rope is independent of each other. If this wasn’t enough, the abseilers work in groups so that one can easily assist another if anything unexpected should happen.
The profession is a very noble one. As ‘industrial abseilers’, they have become more than just someone who wanted to abseil down cliffs and into caves as a pastime. They are men and women who are now skilled in many trades. They paint, they repair concrete, brickwork and stone and they specialise in almost every other kind of trade. The only difference between them and the other building skilled tradesmen is that they do so ten, twenty and more stories off of the ground.
Abseilers may have started off as an adventurers; however they have evolved into trained specialists; the result is a skilled worker who can ascend and descend the height of a building to get to all aspects of the structure to carry out vital work.
Rope access is simply a great way for businesses to get work at height done without having the obstacles of scaffolding, towers or cherry pickers in the way. The rope access companies have created a niche in the marketplace that companies who require exterior building maintenance are benefiting from greatly.