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What are the Different Types of Rope Access Jobs?

Terrie Brockmann
Terrie Brockmann

Rope access training covers mountaineering and industrial safety rope access. The majority of jobs are in the industrial safety field, though some people work as mountain climbing guides or instructors. Rope access jobs usually involve working in high areas and areas with difficult access, such as mine shafts or inside chimneys. The major categories for rope access jobs are on-shore man-made structures, geotechnical work, which covers natural formations, and offshore structures. The main goal of the rope harnessing is to provide safety in these jobs.

Companies that deal with man-made structures, such as buildings and bridges, often have rope access jobs available. Positions are generally available in construction, inspection, and maintenance departments. Some of the jobs may include working on tall chimneys and masts or down shafts, such as mine shafts. One of the newest jobs for rope access workers is in the field of wind energy, such as maintaining wind turbines.

Many rope access technicians work on offshore oil platforms.
Many rope access technicians work on offshore oil platforms.

Another field that employs people skilled in rope access is the geotechnical field. These jobs involve working on natural structures like cliffs, caves, and steep slopes. Often workers need to inspect these formations for damage and potential damage. For example, a worker may be expected to determine the possibility of a steep roadside sliding down onto a road or railway. Repairing these geological formations may include installing anchors or incorporating grouting.

Working on a steeple requires rope access.
Working on a steeple requires rope access.

The offshore field offers rope access jobs for workers who qualify. Often these workers need extra certification and instruction for offshore survival. The jobs on an oil or gas rig may include inspecting and repairing the rig. Maintenance work generally consists of welding, rust removal and painting, and other jobs.

Other rope access jobs cover any field where people need to work in high places, such as steeples, trees, or power lines. Unusual professions that need people skilled in rope access include theater rigging and theatrical stunt work, pest control, and ecological research.

Frequently, people need other skills to qualify for a rope access job. For example, on an oil rig a worker may need to be a skilled welder as well as certified as a rope access worker. In the construction trade, a skilled mason may need rope access experience to work on tall structures. Other jobs, such as cleaning windows or hanging advertising banners, may not require additional skills. Many of these jobs are appropriate for entry-level rope access workers.

The equipment that workers use depends on the type of rope access job. Usually the company provides the equipment because the equipment needs to be inspected and certified frequently. It is difficult to govern personally owned equipment.

There are two types of helmets: mountaineering and industrial safety. The mountaineering helmet does not come off easily, whereas the industrial safety helmet is designed to come off if it gets caught. Many companies use an industrial safety helmet chinstrap with the mountaineering helmet to create safer helmets for extremely dangerous jobs.

The qualifications required differ by regional and local regulations, but usually workers need special training and certification. Some companies offer training and certification free for qualified applicants or will reimburse the worker for off-site training. Generally, technical schools offer rope access courses and certifications.

Experienced workers with rope access certifications may find employment as instructors or job supervisors. Generally, jobs that have many rope access workers hire a manager or supervisor to ensure that every person is properly trained, certified, and performing the job appropriately. These overseers typically are responsible for inspecting the rigging and making sure that all paperwork is up to date.

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    • Many rope access technicians work on offshore oil platforms.
      By: eyeidea
      Many rope access technicians work on offshore oil platforms.
    • Working on a steeple requires rope access.
      By: Elena Belyaeva
      Working on a steeple requires rope access.