Recently I attended the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) Annual Conference in Cancun, Mexico, and brought home updates on some pretty important changes to SPRAT certification requirements that will be posted to www.SPRAT.org and go into effect April 1, 2019. A sampling of some of the changes are below. Even if industrial rope access is not part of your job, we think it is good for you to be aware of all the qualifications and skills Vertical Access rope access teams bring to your projects.
New SPRAT Certification Requirements Effective April 1st, 2019
Level I Certification requirements (changes)
- Horizontal Aid climbing (both fixed and movable) has been moved from a Level II skill to Level I
- The rescue scenario for Level I will now involve the casualty being in ascent, previously a Level II skill
- Level I testing will include proof of hands on skill with building various load sharing anchors in addition to inspecting ones built by Level II’s and III’s
- Additional skill assessments for rigging and operating a hauling and lowering system will include lowering and belaying with communication awareness of mechanical advantage (?)
Level II Certification requirements (changes)
- Vertical aid climbing will be required for a minimum of 10 feet
- Additional knots to know include friction hitch and load-releasable hitch
- Additional skills assessment of picking off a casualty through knots
- Additional skills assessment of rescue from aid traverse (using a rope-to-rope method)
- Rigging and operating a rope access system pre-rigged to lower
Level III Certification requirements (changes)
- Demonstrating an understanding of mechanical anchor systems (tripods and beam clamps) will be removed
- Rescues through knots will be moved to Level II
- Re-anchor or rope-to-rope rescues skills assessment will need to be performed mid-obstacle
- Hauling and lowering through knots (pitch head or platform) in both backup and main lines
- Additional job safety components added to the written test regarding the Job Hazard Analyis or Job Safety Analysis
More information about SPRAT can be found here.
At the conference, we also discussed the 2018 revision to ANSI 121 – Tool Tethers, that could have impacts across all facets of the construction industry.
ANSI 121 – Tool Tethers
ANSI 121 – Tool Tethers is currently rolling out the 2018 revision to incorporate new regulations in response to increase in incidents. This update will see impacts across all areas of the construction industry, not just industrial rope access.
At the SPRAT conference, we discussed some of the following from the new revision that will impact the way we approach our rope access work.
- Modification of tools will no longer be allowed for tethering (no drilling holes, etc)
- No duct or electrical tape will be allowed – a specialized tape is recommended that acts upon tightness of winding
- Every component that can easily come off needs a tether (for example, batteries on drills)
- Locking carabiners with captive eyes need to be used to tether tools and loose accessories that travel with the person
- Declarations of conformity should be issued by suppliers
- Label requirement guidelines are detailed in the revision
- There is now a defined standard on approved containers where tools can be stored without a tether
More information can also be found at https://safetyequipment.org/dropped-object-prevention-resources/
Mike Russell, EIT, recently trained and was certified to the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) Level III Supervisor. According to SPRAT’s Safe Practices for Rope Access Work, all site work must be performed under the supervision of a Level III Supervisor.
Level III Supervisors are responsible for the overall rope access operations on site.
Mike joins Kelly Streeter, P.E. and Kevin Dalton as Level III Supervisors for Vertical Access.
As part of the training, Mike reviewed basic rope access techniques that we most often use in our site work as well as more advanced skills that are less often used, such as passing knots, rope-to-rope transfers, redirects, rebelays and horizontal aid traverse. The training also covered rope rescue techniques and mechanical advantage systems used for raising or lowering a casualty or other load.
SPRAT is a membership organization that promotes the development of safe practices and standards for rope access work in the United States, Canada, Mexico and beyond. Vertical Access is a member of SPRAT and active in its leadership committees.
Vertical Access recently conducted an in-house industrial rope access training course in preparation for third-party certification or recertification by the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT). As a Level III Rope Access Supervisor with over 17 years experience in the construction industry and a Vertical Access employee since 2011, I took on the role of trainer for the first time.
We are excited to congratulate the following staff on SPRAT advancements and recertifications:
Patrick Capruso: Level II (Certified)
Kristen Olson: Level II (Recertified)
Evan Kopelson: Level II (Recertified)
Kelly Streeter: Level III (Recertified)
I also recertified to a Level III prior to taking on the role as trainer.
Other VA staff SPRAT advancements and recertifications include:
Michael Patino: Certified to Level I
Berta de Miguel: Recertified at Level I
Mike Russell: Certified to Level II
What Does Rope Access Certification Entail?
Certified rope access technicians and supervisors must undergo training and recertification every three years. As part of the training, technicians review basic rope access techniques that we most often use during site work as well as more advanced skills
that are less often used, such as passing knots, rope-to-rope transfers, redirects, rebelays and horizontal aid traverse. The training also covers rope rescue techniques and mechanical advantage systems used for hauling or lowering a rescue subject or other load.
Following the training course, Vertical Access brought in an independent SPRAT Evaluator to conduct the evaluation. The evaluation and certification process includes written and oral examinations to test knowledge of safe practices for industrial rope
access and an understanding of the equipment and principles involved in rope access work. The main part of the evaluation is the skills test, in which each candidate must demonstrate a broad range of rope access skills.
What is SPRAT?
SPRAT is a membership organization that promotes the development of safe practices and standards for rope access work in the United States, Canada, Mexico and beyond. Vertical Access is a member of SPRAT and has been active in its leadership committees throughout the years.
- Level I Technicians are rope access workers with the appropriate training, skills and qualifications to perform work under the direct supervision of a Level II Lead Technician or Level III Supervisor.
- Level II Lead Technicians are responsible for physically conducting rope access operations and/or safety evaluations of rope access operations, including maintenance of associated access equipment, and are capable of performing all Rope Access Lead Technician duties as assigned in the employer’s rope access work program. To become a SPRAT Level II certified
technician, Mike and Patrick were required to complete the evaluation as described above, in addition to logging 500 performing rope access work as a SPRAT Level I certified professional.
- Level III Rope Access Supervisors are responsible for overall rope access operations on site and job site safety. Level III candidates should have current First-aid, CPR, and AED certification prior to evaluation and will have logged at least 1000 hours performing rope access work with at least 500 hours and six months as a SPRAT Level II certified professional.
Last October, the Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) and the National Trust for Canada held CAPITALizing on HERITAGE: COMMUNITY, GOVERNMENT and SAVOIR-FAIRE in Ottawa. The joint conference showcased 190 speakers and over 40 exhibitors. With roughly 1,100 attendees and more than 20 countries represented, the four-day event became the largest heritage conference ever held in Canada. CAPITALizing on HERITAGE was my first APT Annual Conference and fueled by a shameful amount of readily available coffee I made my way around paper sessions, banquets, and plenary discussions. Compared to regional APT symposia, the programming was diverse and immense with focuses ranging from the archeological unearthing and documentation of Nova Scotia’s built heritage to an exploration of Ontario’s northern wilderness in search of the rugged landscapes immortalized in paintings by the Group of Seven.
Seven paper tracks covered topics as diverse as cultural landscapes, non-destructive testing, heritage advocacy, the economics of preservation, engineering, and sustainability. Program book in hand, I raced around the conference level to catch specific presentations, curating a personal agenda that offered talks on architectural diagnostics and documentation as well as those that were distinctly Canadian like heritage values and the rights of Canada’s First Nations people. Thanks in large part to programming arranged by the National Trust for Canada, the duality of Ottawa’s existence as both a modern capital city and the unseeded ancestral territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe was never lost on those who attended the conference. This constant reminder sparked conversations that are simply not being discussed in the United States.
For every learning opportunity CAPITALizing on HERITAGE offered there was an occasion to network and reconnect. It became apparent that the social aspect of the event alone was worth the registration. In Ottawa, I attended the first meeting of the Technical Committee for Materials, talked shop with a former employer, shared a bottle of wine with new contacts, and was introduced to several leading authorities in preservation. I was happy to catch up with familiar faces from previous APT symposia as well. For someone who is relatively new to the field and APT, the Annual Conference offered an unparalleled opportunity to network.
Between the paper sessions, banquets and cocktail hours, CAPITALizing on HERITAGE was nearly overwhelming. Fortunately breaks in programming provided time to get out and explore downtown Ottawa. Whether it was views of Parliament Hill perched high above the confluence of three rivers or beaver tails in ByWard Market (fried dough smothered in butter and maple syrup did not disappoint), Ottawa delivered. The city proved to be an ideal venue for a joint conference with an emphasis on the built environment and interpretations of its cultural significance. With my first Annual Conference behind me I am looking forward to celebrating APT’S 50th Anniversary at Points of Departure next year in Buffalo. (I’m on the planning committee and so far it looks like it’s going to be awesome!)
Mike Russell, EIT, has earned his Level II Certification from the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT). A Level II certified individual is responsible for physically conducting rope access operations and/or safety evaluations of rope access operations, including maintenance of associated access equipment and performs all Rope Access Lead Technician duties as assigned in the employer’s rope access work program. To become a SPRAT-certified technician, Mike was required to attend a certification session and pass a written test, verbal test, and a hands-on physical performance based test assessed by a SPRAT-certified Evaluator, in addition to logging 500 hours on the job as a SPRAT Level I certified professional.
Mike joined Vertical Access in 2016 bringing with him over six years of experience working in the construction industry, both commercial and residential, specifically relating to project management, sustainable building practices, and restoration in residential and maritime environments.
He began restoring boats for the City of Charleston (South Carolina) Maritime Foundation while pursuing a degree in Historic Preservation and Community Planning at the College of Charleston. Following his switch to the field of engineering, Mike joined a residential construction firm located on the Connecticut shoreline that specialized in the restoration and rehabilitation of barns and historic homes. From there he went on to join Whiting-Turner, a national contracting firm where he worked as a project engineer on large scale commercial projects before joining Vertical Access in the summer of 2016.
Berta de Miguel has earned her Ph.D in Preservation of Architectural Heritage from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain. She joined VA as in intern in 2011, initially focusing on our continued research into the works of the Guastavino Company in New York City.
A SPRAT Level I technician, she currently participates in Vertical Access field projects and preservation conferences.
Berta is our Metropolitan New York branch office manager and is a NYC Department of Buildings CD-5 Filing Representative. She co-instructed a graduate level course, “Restoration of Historic Buildings: Discovery, Design, Execution”, at Manhattan College in New York City in Spring of 2013.
Berta also participated in the award-winning biographical documentary, El Architecto de Nueva York, a celebration of the lives and careers of the Rafael Guastavinos, father and son, developers of the Guastavino vault architectural construction technique.
For six years prior to joining the VA team, Berta was a project manager of building restoration projects at Edycon, one of the top ten architectural conservation and historic preservation firms in Spain. She was responsible for managing multiple projects with large teams simultaneously, in addition to the preparation of reports to clients and institutions. Berta’s professional background also includes two years studying architectural preservation in Cuba and Belgium. She has been the restoration site project manager on more than twenty landmarks, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Catedral de Teruel (12th century), the National Landmark Castle of Sagunto (Roman origin), and the San Martin Church of Valencia (14th century).
Kelly Streeter took a moment on a recent job in Albany, NY to reflect on the fact that she was on-site there 19 years ago almost to the day on her first rope access project — same city, different building!
May 2016: Kelly points to the site of her first rope access project back in 1997.