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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held a week long public hearing on OSHA’s Proposed Rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems), Docket No. OSHA-2007-0072 last week. VA Partners Kent Diebolt and Kelly Streeter both provided testimony to the panel on the last day of the hearing. Kent’s presentation concentrated on the incredible safety record of Industrial Rope Access, as recorded by IRATA, the International Rope Access Trade Association. Kent provided several exhibits that will become a part of the permanent record, including standards and documents published by IRATA, the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) and ASTM.
Kelly’s testified on behalf of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z359 committee in her role as the chairperson for the Z359.7 committee on the safety requirements of descending devices.
The goal of the testimony was to educate the panel as to the wide range of industries, equipment and techniques that are affected by the limitations contained in the proposed rule.
Vertical Access recently conducted an in-house industrial rope access training course leading to third-party certifications by the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT). VA’s chief rigger Mike Gilbert led the training, which took place over four days at Cornell’s Lindseth Climbing Wall. As part of the training, technicians 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.
Following the training course, Vertical Access brought in an independent SPRAT Evaluator to test the VA technicians. The certification process includes a written and oral examinations to test knowledge of safe practices for industrial rope access and an understanding of the equipment and principles involved with 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.
Keith Luscisnki tested to and was certified as a Level III Supervisor, responsible for the overall rope access operations on site. Keith joins Kelly Streeter and Mike Gilbert as Level III Supervisors for Vertical Access. According to SPRAT’s Safe Practices for Rope Access Work, all site work must be performed under the supervision of a Level III Supervisor. Donn Hewes and Kevin Dalton tested to and were certified as Level I Technicians, 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.
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.
by Mike Gilbert
The Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) is an organization comprised of individuals, companies, and agencies that have a stake in the safe development of rope access standards and practices. Although SPRAT is based in the United States, its scope is international. Currently, SPRAT members hail from the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. The membership includes individual practitioners, companies that provide rope access services, training or equipment, and government agencies.
SPRAT supports rope access practitioners with certification programs, regulatory support, networking, and opportunities to participate in developing industry-consensus standards.
This year’s SPRAT Conference was held the second week of January in Vancouver, British Columbia. The annual conference is a two-day affair.
The first day is given over to SPRAT business, with committee meetings and reports. I participated in the Certification Requirements Document Committee, and the Safe Practices Document Committee meetings.
I took on the task of performing an editorial review of the two documents. I will be looking mostly for inconsistencies in nomenclature, but I’ll also keep an eye out for other editorial or substantive violations of parallel construction. The Safe Practices document informs the Certification document, and the Certification document implements the Safe Practices, so the two need to stand in complete agreement. Since they are overseen by separate committees, and adopted in separate ballot initiatives, they do not always reflect each other as accurately as we would wish.
The second day of the conference consists primarily of technical presentations by SPRAT members. Nine presentations covered a wide range of topics, ranging from a review of OSHA’s proposed changes to the regulations governing fall protection in general industry, to a humorous look at the characteristics desirable in the “perfect rope access technician”. There were two project case studies, a presentation on leadership in management, three presentations focused on rope access equipment, and an evaluation of rope access in the U.S. regulatory framework. Continue reading 2011 SPRAT Conference →