Are You Fully Prepared for Rope Access Training?

Your good health is important to your success in Rope Access!

Rope access is a high-adrenaline, physically
and mentally demanding, and exciting
career, with all sorts of opportunities
for advancement. But it’s not for
everyone. On this page, we’re
specifically going to focus in on the
physical and mental demands of rope
access work, and how you can ensure
you’ll be ready for the challenge before
you show up for your first day of training.

To start, this is the general criteria our students must satisfy:

  • You have to be at least 18 years old
  • Be comfortable with heights
  • Be unaffected by a medical condition that could prevent you from working safely
  • Be self-reliant and responsible, with a good attitude regarding safety
  • Be physically fit

Let’s zero in on that last point, because ‘physically fit’ is a fairly vague criterion. Essentially what we’re talking about is the combination of strength, agility, and coordination. On the job, you will be hanging in suspension from a harness, and using your lower and upper body strength (in addition to an assortment of ascenders, descenders, and safety equipment) to maneuver yourself up, down, and around the rope system. Also, almost all rope access jobs happen outside, which means you’ll also be working amongst the elements, and withstanding the stresses of the head cold, rain, etc. Some weather conditions you’ll like more than others, but all will be challenging in their own way. Finally, there’s the physical nature of the tasks you’ll be doing: washing windows, painting, removing loose concrete, welding, electrical work, inspections, drilling, etc.

It’s all going to take a good base level of physical fitness, which will undoubtedly improve with time.

Primarily, what we’re concerned about is your strength to weight ratio, and whether you can lift your own body weight (the recommended max body weight is 220 lbs for techs under 6”0’, but of course there are exceptions to every rule), and the health and mobility of your joints – especially your hands.

Not sure where you stand in relation to all this? Here’s a simple physical aptitude test that you can do at home:

  • One chin‐up(or pull‐up) with chin held above the bar.
  • Twenty sit-ups within a two-minute time period, with your hands behind your head. Your shoulder blades should come all the way to the ground for each rep.
  • Twenty stair steps on a 16”-18” platform in a two-minute time period without using your hands/arms (Harvard Step Test)

During your training week, you’ll be engaged in moderate to strenuous levels of activity for five consecutive eight hour days (the fifth being your assessment day). This will also give you a pretty good benchmark of how you’d be on the field.

If this is your first time taking a Rope Access training course, please note that arm, elbow, and shoulder strains are fairly common for course participants who’ve never worked on the ropes before. We’ll teach you proper climbing technique, but a short-warm-up and stretching routine before each training day will help you to minimize any potential for a muscle strain or other injury while you’re practicing.

Here’s something else to consider: you will have some physical limitations. Practice self-awareness and take responsibility for monitoring them. Challenge yourself, but also pace yourself. Don’t push yourself so hard you get an injury that’ll prevent you from completing your assessment.

Finally, we want out techs to possess a willingness to learn and improve. No one expects you to be perfect on day one. Your fitness level and aptitude for heights are going to improve with time. On day one, we just want to make sure you’re in the best possible place to succeed.

 

Medical disabilities or contraindications that could prevent you from working safely in Rope Access:

  • Heart disease or hypertension, chest pain
  • Pacemaker or implanted defibrillation
  • Asthma or other respiratory disorders
  • Blood pressure disorder
  • Obesity
  • Claustrophobia/Acrophobia (fear of enclosed areas/heights)
  • Giddiness (difficulty with balance), dizziness, or impaired balance
  • Arthritis, osteoarthritis, tendonitis or other muscular/skeletal disorder affecting mobility
  • Alcohol or drug dependence
  • Epilepsy, seizures, or blackouts
  • Severe allergic reaction to insect bites (anaphylactic shock)
  • Brittle or uncontrolled diabetes
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease (poor blood circulation to extremities
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Psychiatric illness
  • Extreme sun sensitivity

 

This is a comprehensive list of every medical condition that could potentially be a problem. Pacific Ropes does not require you to sign a medical waiver to prove that you are historically free of any of these conditions, but you will need to fill out IRATA form 014, Statement of medical condition, certifying that you do not currently have an undedicated contraindication or medical disability that will prevent you from working safely. If you are on medication for one of the above disabilities, you will need to provide us with a signed note from your doctor, showing us that this condition will not impair you from Rope Access work as long as you have access to the required medication.

For a quick summary of this section, you may need to provide us with:

  • IRATA form 014, Statement of Medical Conditions.
  • If you’re on medication for a contraindication or medical disability, a signed note from your doctor showing that this does not impair your ability to work in Rope Access.

This isn’t solo work. Even if it’s just a small team of 2 or 3, you’ll always be working with other people who may need to rely on you in the event of an emergency. Part of being prepared is being physically and mentally healthy.

As a Training Member Company, we do have the right to exclude any candidate from training if we have concerns over their health, fitness, or attitude to safety.

If you have any questions, send us an email or give us a ring. For a full list of our upcoming training dates, click below: