Despite the growing use of rope access in Canada we find that it is still sometimes viewed as an emerging technology in industrial situations, and we still frequently speak to operational managers, project engineers and health and safety representatives that either may not be familiar with rope access at all, or may not fully understand how it can be applied, or perhaps have safety concerns about its use.
For example, on a recent rope access task where Tundra Rescue was working in a subcontractor capacity assisting with a building maintainance project we were required to make presentations at three different levels before the work was approved to proceed. [the prime contractor, the building owner health and safety represenative, and the building management service]
None of the representatives at these three levels were familiar with rope access and all of them were, at least initially, sceptical about whether it was a safe and appropriate choice for the task.
This isn’t a criticism of them whatsoever, we absolutely understand why people and organisations that are not familiar with rope access need to do their due diligence, and we are always happy to help others learn about rope access its benefits.
It’s good for us and for them.
And of course even organisations that are familiar with rope access still need to do appropriate due diligence too, both on the provider company and about whether rope access it is an appropriate, efficient and safe method for the particular task that they need to accomplish.
There is a parallel here with some of the emerging artificial intelligence (AI) applications which have been receiving a lot of media attention recently, in the sense that while some people may already be active users getting a lot of benefit, others may not fully understand what they do or the potential risks associated with them.
Perhaps the most famous of these AI apps is ChatGPT, a natural language processing tool (chat bot) powered by artificial intelligence which has been developed by OpenAI and became publicly available in November in 2022.
ChatGPT is “trained” on massive amounts of data and it has been designed to respond in a human, conversational way to inquiries, unlike traditional search engines, such as Google and Bing which provide a list of relevant links in response to queries instead.
So given that we sometimes find ourselves explaining what rope access is to potential customers, we thought it would be interesting to ask ChatGPT to tell us what it thought rope access is. And this is the result:
“Rope access refers to a method of accessing difficult-to-reach areas, such as high-rise buildings, bridges, or other structures, using ropes and specialized equipment. This technique is often used in industries such as construction, maintenance, and inspection, where traditional access methods such as scaffolding or cranes may not be feasible or efficient.
Rope access technicians typically use a combination of techniques, including climbing and rappelling, to access and work on these structures. They use specialized equipment such as harnesses, ascenders, descenders, and ropes to ensure their safety and stability while working at heights.
Rope access is considered a safe and efficient method of accessing and working on structures at height, and it is often used as an alternative to traditional access methods that can be more time-consuming and expensive. However, rope access requires specialized training, certification, and equipment to ensure the safety of workers and the public.”
(ChatGPT, accessed 02 March 2023)
We think that this sums up rope access quite well because it because it concisely describes three of its most important features:
- the variety of situations that rope access can be used in,
- the equipment that is involved in rope access, and,
- the efficiency and safety of rope access.
In fact, we were quite impressed by this answer.
However what ChatGPT can’t do – at least for now (!) – is show how rope access can be integrated or used in your own specific projects and programs, or complete your task-specific planning and job safety analysis.
So if this post has prompted you to have any further questions about rope access and whether it can support what you are trying to achieve, please contact us and we can tell you even more about it.
Tundra Rescue is a leading provider of industrial support services involving confined spaces and vertical access challenges in Ontario. If you have any projects that involve confined space safety or access issues, whether these involves just one entry or multiple, complex entries over a longer period of time, or technical work with access implications, please do get in touch to see how we can assist.