Rope Access FAQs
What is rope access?
Rope access refers to a set of techniques where ropes and specialized hardware are used for work at height. A two-rope system is employed: the working rope provides access and support for the worker and the safety rope provides an independent back-up system.
Why use rope access?
Modern rope access equipment, techniques, and training can be combined to produce an exceptionally safe, versatile, efficient, and cost-effective way to solve vertical access problems.
• Rope access is safe. Independently-certified rope-access technicians uphold an enviable safety record with no fatalities and few lost time incidents while working on rope.
• Rope access is versatile. Technicians can apply the techniques in a wide variety of environments, from confined-space penstocks to massive concrete structures to complicated steel installations. Unlike traditional access methods, custom rope-access solutions can be designed to fit various applications quickly and inexpensively.
• Rope access is efficient. Systems are installed and dismantled quickly and often require fewer personnel than traditional access methods. Rapid deployment limits disruption to facility operations by minimizing downtime.
• Rope access is economical. Fewer personnel, faster completion, less equipment, and minimal downtime mean lower costs.
Who uses rope access?
• Civil, structural, and geo-technical engineers
• Operations and maintenance workers
• Construction workers and painters
• High-rise window cleaners
• Motion picture and theatrical set personnel
• Tower and antenna installers
Some examples of common rope access applications include:
• Structural inspections and non-destructive testing (NDT)
• Sealant installation and surface preparation
• Sand blasting and pressure washing
• Concrete repair
• Instrument installation
• Rock scaling and anchoring
• Photography and cinematography
• Set installation
• Geological surveys
Is rope access compatible with conventional methods like scaffolding? Absolutely, there are some applications where a combination of conventional methods (scaffolding, swing stages, or temporary platforms) and rope access techniques are the best way to get the job completed safely and efficiently. In some cases, rope access methods are used to erect temporary scaffolds or provide access to the platforms.
TRAINING FAQs, Costs
How much do your training courses cost?
The cost of our open enrollment courses varies depending on the type of course you select.
SPRAT/IRATA Rope Access - $1,650
W110 - Competent User (2 day): $775
W210 - Authorized Instructor (5 day): $2,000
W210 - Instructor Refresher (3 day): $1,150
SPRAT - $115
IRATA - $200
When is payment due?
Tuition costs is due in FULL at the time of registration.
TRAINING FAQs, Scheduling
When is your next course?
Our courses tend to fill up 1 - 2 months ahead of time so it pays to plan ahead! Take a look at our Course Calendar to see what dates are available. We run Level I courses at least once a month out of National Training Center in Reno and our Houston Training Facility.
The training calendar says the course is wait listed; how do I get added to the wait list?
If you see a course that you want to attend that has been wait listed feel free to register through our online registration system for that course and you will automatically be added to the waitlist.
How often do spots on the wait list open up?
Usually 1-2 spots may open up in any given course, but it's very hard to predict. Feel free to call 775-747-2244 for more information.
Is a deposit required to be on the wait list?
No deposit is required to be added to the wait list. If you are on the wait list you can always choose to decline your spot if you are unable to attend.
What happens if a spot opens up?
If a spot opens up we will contact you based on the information you provided. We will usually give you 24 - 48 hours to respond with your decision to accept or decline the spot. If you decide to attend the course we will need to process payment within 24 hours of confirmation to fully confirm you into the course. If you decline the spot will be passed down to the next person on the list.
Does Ropeworks offer custom courses for groups? Can this be offered at our facility? What is the smallest class size?
Absolutely! All Ropeworks courses can be offered on a custom basis. In fact, many courses we run are customized to meet the needs of corporate and government clients. We can offer a custom course at all of our training facilities, the client’s facility or sometimes at an appropriate facility in the client’s general region as needed. Custom training becomes cost-effective with approximately 4 people. Most of our courses are run with a maximum of 12 people per session.
What are typical student-to-instructor ratios in Ropeworks' rope access and rescue courses?
Unlike most rescue schools, Ropeworks' technical rope access and rescue courses are run with a maximum ratio of 6 students to 1 instructor, but typically the ratio is about 4 to 1. We believe in active participation by all candidates and the only way to achieve this safely is to keep student-to-instructor ratios low.
TRAINING FAQs, Location
Where is your training center located?
We have purpose-built training facilities at the following locations:
TRAINING FAQs, Equipment
Is demo equipment provided in most Ropeworks courses?
Yes, Ropeworks provides all technical equipment for our open registration rope access and rescue training courses. The equipment we use has been carefully selected through years of experience and product development. Our equipment is inspected and maintained regularly to insure its integrity and proper function. Each candidate does need to bring appropriate clothing for the course. Sleeveless tops and shorts are not appropriate. Long pants and sturdy closed toed shoes are required. Safety glasses, work gloves, and safety-toe design boots may be worn but are not required at our training facilities.
Can I purchase the equipment used in a course?
We don’t sell our used equipment however new equipment can be purchased from our website.
Can I bring my own equipment to a Ropeworks course?
We require that candidates use our equipment in open registration courses because the equipment has an inspection record and the selection is finely-tuned to match the training. Although we provide helmets, candidates are welcome to bring their personal Rope Access ANSI Z 89.1 approved Type 1 work-at-height helmet. Students are welcome to purchase an equipment kit prior to the course and use it as long as it is configured the same way our training kits are.
Am I eligible for a discount on equipment when I take a Ropeworks course?
All Ropeworks students receive a substantial discount averaging about 10% off. Just call or email for us to set up your account. Ask for a web login to view your pricing online.
SPRAT & IRATA FAQs
What is SPRAT?
The Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) is a member-driven organization with headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Its purpose is to promote the safe use of industrial rope access techniques in North America, create standards for rope access work, and certify rope access technicians. It is primarily active in US, Canada, and Mexico.
What is IRATA?
The Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) is an association of industrial rope access companies and individual members. The organization has headquarters in the United Kingdom. While the majority of IRATA member companies and technicians are based in the UK, the organization has members and certified technicians throughout the world. IRATA’s primary purpose is to ensure that its member companies operate in a safe and professional manner. The IRATA technician certification program is an important part of its mission.
What is the difference between SPRAT and IRATA?
It isn’t simple to pin down the differences between two organizations that are constantly evolving, but we have identified a few arguable differences.
• Location: SPRAT is based in North America and IRATA is based in the United Kingdom. SPRAT is focusing its certification and standards efforts in North America while IRATA has grown from its UK base to an international scope, especially in the oil and gas industry. We expect that SPRAT certification will be recognized internationally, but its focus currently is on North American operators.
• History: It isn’t simple to pin down the differences between two organizations that are constantly evolving, but we have identified a few arguable differences..
• Influence: Nearly all of the important IRATA meetings take place in the UK. Unless you want to rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles, if you are based in North America, it is much easier to influence a younger organization that is based in North America. IRATA does have a working committee for North America, with some influence over the board of directors.
• Cost: At this point, it is considerably more expensive to maintain IRATA membership and certification over those associated with SPRAT. There may be a convergence in the future as both organizations evolve.
• Membership & Audits: IRATA member companies are subjected to an audit process to insure that they are complying with IRATA standards. SPRAT member companies are not audited at this point, although there is an effort to create an audited status in the future
• Consensus process: SPRAT’s goal is to create industry-consensus standards and therefore has actively sought participation from a broad range of operators. The consensus process used to develop and approve its standards is sometimes “onerous” but is designed to be consistent with the process used by ANSI and other standards-setting organizations in North America. While efforts are made within IRATA to ensure that IRATA standards reflect the views of its members, changes are made by an executive committee and not a consensus process.
Everyone that is committed to rope access in North America should participate in SPRAT. SPRAT is actively working with government organizations to help develop opportunities in the North American market. If you expect to pursue multi-national opportunities, it is helpful to pursue IRATA certification and membership. Ropeworks is involved in both organizations because we are interested in promoting and influencing the convergence of safety standards for rope access worldwide.
Is the Ropeworks course for SPRAT or IRATA different?
Ropeworks training usually goes above and beyond both standards. The basic skills in both systems are similar, with some variations. We will often customize our courses to meet the needs of the students and in some cases, this means altering the curriculum to meet the specific requirements of each standard, but in general a Ropeworks course at a particular level is similar regardless of the standard we are preparing candidates.
Why is it important to have a certified work force?
Certification is the best way to insure that an organization’s training is consistent with national standards. An organization employing uncertified rope-access workers may be exposing itself unnecessarily to increased risk and liability. Trainees seeking certification are generally more attentive and committed to learning the necessary skills than those who complete a training course only – resulting in a safer and more efficient workforce. Increasingly contracts within North America are requiring independently-certified rope- access personnel.
Rope Access Direct Entry
Direct Entry Defined:
Direct entry certification is intended to allow technicians who have obtained rope access experience on a two-rope system, outside the desired certification system, to be evaluated for certification at a level commensurate with their skills and experience. Recreational climbing, caving and rescue utilizing single rope techniques does not generally qualify as rope access experience, although it greatly increases aptitude.
Is it possible to enter directly into SPRAT Level II or III?
Yes, SPRAT direct entry certification to Level II or III is only available to individuals who have not previously held a SPRAT certification. Direct entry candidates shall submit the appropriate documentation to the SPRAT Evaluation Committee for review and approval no less than (6) weeks in advance of the scheduled evaluation date. Ropeworks training staff can assist with this process.
Is it possible to enter directly into IRATA Level II or III?
Within North America, IRATA direct entry certification is permitted at Level II only provided all requirements are met. IRATA Level III direct entry is not permitted within North America.
Does Ropeworks take direct-entry candidates to Level II or III?
Please note: Ropeworks training courses are not set up for Direct Entry. Proper coordination between the candidate and Ropeworks must take place so that a course may be customized to meet the Direct Entry requirements.
All candidates must meet the SPRAT or IRATA Direct Entry experience requirements before attempting direct entry. To allow Ropeworks the time to assist with the Direct Entry application process, all required documentation must be submitted in its entirety to Ropeworks no later than 2 months prior to the start of the course.
SPRAT Direct Entry Level II
Please note: Direct entry is reserved for qualified candidates with varied industrial rope access experience. Recreational climbing, caving and rescue utilizing single rope techniques does not generally qualify as industrial experience, although it greatly increases aptitude. Please note all paperwork must be submitted to the SPRAT Evaluation Committee for review and approval no less than (6) weeks in advance of the scheduled evaluation date. Ropeworks training staff can assist with this process.
• Level II technician candidates shall provide documentation of work experience employing a two-rope system of at least 500 hours (hours should be signed off by a supervisor, manager or client). Documentation of work experience should include details of the type of work, dates of work, number of hours on rope and the forms of access (e.g. descending, ascending, rope transfer, hauling, rigging, etc.).
• Candidates shall provide a work at height resume that includes 2 professional references, employers, pertinent experience, position(s), responsibilities and previous training.
• Candidates shall attend a SPRAT evaluation and certification session and successfully complete a level II written test and a level II field evaluation by an independent SPRAT Evaluator (Direct Entry Candidates will be evaluated on all skills required at level I and level II).
SPRAT Direct Entry Level III Requirements
Please note: Direct entry is reserved for qualified candidates with varied industrial rope access experience. Recreational climbing, caving and rescue utilizing single rope techniques does not generally qualify as industrial experience, although it greatly increases aptitude. Please note all paperwork must be submitted to the SPRAT Evaluation Committee for review and approval no less than 6 weeks in advance of the scheduled evaluation date. Ropeworks training staff can assist with this process.
• Level III technician candidates shall provide documentation of work experience employing a two-rope system of at least 1000 hours (hours should be signed off by a supervisor, manager or client). Documentation of work experience should include details of the type of work, dates of work, number of hours on rope and the forms of access (e.g. descending, ascending, rope transfer, hauling, rigging, etc.).
• Candidates shall provide a work at height resume that includes 2 professional references, employers, pertinent experience, position (including supervisory or foreman type roles), responsibilities, and previous training.
• Level III candidates shall provide a letter of recommendation from a supervisor, manager or client.
• Level III candidates shall provide a current First-aid and CPR/AED certification.
• Candidates shall attend a SPRAT evaluation and certification session and successfully complete a level III written test and a level III Field evaluation by an independent SPRAT Evaluator (DE Candidates will be evaluated on all skills required at level II and level III).
IRATA Direct Entry Level II
Please note: IRATA now requires pre-verification and approval. The following documents shall be sent to an IRATA verifier before training and assessment commences. Ropeworks training staff can assist with this process.
• Technicians will need to complete an IRATA Previous Work Log (IRATA form 030) showing a minimum of 18 months and 1500 hours working on a two-rope system.
• Professional work at height resume (should include references).
• Letter of recommendation from employer or trainer.
• Company operating procedures which outline work methods utilizing a two-rope system.
• Complete a four-day (minimum) rope access training course from an IRATA Training Member Company and managed by an IRATA Level III.
• Complete a Level I & II written test.
• Complete a Level I & II assessment by an independent IRATA Assessor over a period of 2 days.
If I have an IRATA or SPRAT certification is there reciprocity between the organizations?
SPRAT does not have reciprocity at this time. All candidates need to follow the direct entry process. Within North America, IRATA currently allows SPRAT technicians in possession of a valid SPRAT certificate/card and logbook to convert into the IRATA system provided all the following requirements are met.
• A certified SPRAT level I technician wishing to convert to IRATA level I must complete a four-day (minimum) rope access training course from an IRATA Training Member Company followed by a level I assessment by an independent IRATA Assessor.
• A certified SPRAT level II technician with a minimum of 1000 hours and one years’ experience at that level (documented in a SPRAT log book) wishing to convert to IRATA level II must complete a four-day (minimum) rope access training course from an IRATA Training Member Company followed by a level II assessment by an independent IRATA Assessor. Technicians who have an in date SPRAT level II but do not have 1000 hours and/or one years’ experience at that level are eligible for IRATA level I conversion as outlined above.
• A certified SPRAT level III technician with a minimum of 1000 hours and one years’ experience at that level (documented in a SPRAT log book) wishing to convert to IRATA level III must complete a four-day (minimum) rope access training course from an IRATA Training Member Company followed by a level II assessment by an independent IRATA Assessor. Technicians who have an in date SPRAT level III but do not have 1000 hours and/or one years’ experience at that level are eligible for IRATA level II conversion as outlined above providing they have a minimum of 1500 total logged hours.
• No additional fees are required for conversions.
How do I document my rope access experience if I don't have a logbook?
Both SPRAT and IRATA require proper experience documentation. Rope access work experience should be recorded in a SPRAT or IRATA logbook. If you were previously certified you should already have a logbook. Make sure that you are keeping your logbook current and that all your entries are verified and signed by a Level III Supervisor, Rope Access Program Manager, or client as applicable. SPRAT and IRATA logbooks provide guidance on how entries should be recorded. SPRAT allows documentation to be presented in other formats provided the following information is presented: date of work, employer name, details of rope access tasks and application, location and type of structure, hours worked, supervisor signature verifying hours worked. IRATA certified technicians are required to record their rope access work experience in an IRATA logbook. For Direct Entry candidates refer to the section above on how to present work experience for approval.
I let my SPRAT/IRATA certification expire, how do I get re-certified/upgrade?
Upon expiration, rope access certifications become invalid. Rope access hours acquired without a valid certification will not be counted toward the minimum required hours for certification advancement. SPRAT candidates with expired certifications wishing to recertify or advance to the next level shall complete all skills required at the proposed level of certification. IRATA candidates wishing to recertify or upgrade through the normal process must have a valid certificate on the day of the assessment. IRATA provides specific guidance for candidates with expired certification wishing to recertify or advance. If you have or expect to have an expired IRATA certificate on the day of the assessment, contact us at email@example.com. If re-training and successful assessment are completed in the 6 month period prior to the expiry of a current certificate, a new certificate will be issued with an expiry date 3 years from the date of expiry on the previous certificate.
Does Ropeworks offer SPRAT/IRATA evaluation/assessment services? We currently have both IRATA assessors and SPRAT evaluators on staff and do our best to support the industry by providing this service when possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about evaluation/assessment services.
How far in advance do I have to reserve the evaluator? Due to our busy training schedule we recommend allowing as much lead time as possible when requesting evaluation/assessment services. More than a month notice will increase the likelihood we will be able to fulfill your request.
How much do evaluators cost? Please contact us at email@example.com to receive an official estimate.
Job Placement FAQs
Is the industrial rope access field growing in North America?
Yes, while accurate numbers are difficult to find, it is indisputable that the opportunities for rope access technicians are growing as more and more industries realize the benefits of this type of work.
How can I get work as a rope access technician? The path starts with certification. The chances of being hired improve considerably if the candidate is already trained and certified. Some companies will hire candidates with no prior experience and will sponsor their training and certification. Ropeworks offers open-registration courses so that candidates who are not sponsored by an employer also have a path towards certification.
Can Ropeworks help with job placement? While Ropeworks doesn’t actively provide job-placement services, Ropeworks is recognized by many employers in the rope access field as one of the leading rope access training providers in North America. Ropeworks and other employers also recruit right out of our courses.
Is Ropeworks hiring? All of our job openings are posted on our web site. If you are interested in working for our team, we recommend sending a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.