Safety is paramount when working at heights
FM companies that outsource rope access cleaning and maintenance need to ensure their specialist service provider has checked all the right boxes
Possibly nowhere else in the world is the need for rope access safety so profound. Yet at the same time, the industry is based upon international regulations that may or may not have taken into consideration the additional safety requirements and specialised equipment that is required for a safe and secured rope access within the UAE.
A quick look at the UAE rope access guidelines (DM-PH&SD-P7-TG07) will show you that the equipment to be used listed with an Australian/New Zealand approved rating and that the recommendations for working at heights make sited reference to the Singapore Guidelines.
Naturally, most credible rope access companies will follow the IRATA safety procedures, atop these guidelines, when undertaking their works. But as FM service providers or built asset owners regulations and proof of certification should be one of the first questions when assessing the capabilities of a rope access company or considering them for the job.
Both client and rope access teams should work closely and in an integrated fashion to ensure that materials and equipment are checked, inspected and cleared prior to the use on a facility. It is primarily the responsibility of the building owner to ensure that a risk assessment is complete and that some sort of inspection reports are provided prior to the beginning of works.
For FM companies that are to outsource this function to specialists, it is important to make sure your permit-to-work systems contain the proof of inspections, and lifecycle estimations on equipment prior to commencement of works. Whilst more insurances will cover third party insurance or contractors all risk insurances, any claim to that agency will want to see that some sort of testing and inspections were complete prior to issuing the permit to work.
In general, rope access equipment should be obviously fit for purpose, should be capable of withstanding any foreseeable loads without catastrophic damage to the buildings components or systems (anchor bolts, or other existing anchoring points placed within the design element of the building), should be thoroughly inspected from the receipt of the equipment (i.e. store keep/procurement functions and utilising a developed pre-check routine that shall be delivered from the HSE department as a part of the risk assessment mentioned above, with a regular interval inspection plan for any equipment that exists in stores with key record keeping forming a part of the corporate governance processes within the organisation.
Ensuring that the FM industry is working proactively to reduce the risk of accidents in rope access we must continue to work within the sector to ensure that we better the safety requirements over and above the UAE and regulatory compliance guidelines of international agencies.
Whilst IRATA goes a long way in detailing how to ensure safety of equipment, more indepth information on rope access equipment degredation and lifecycle analysis of equipment should be freely available for these climatic conditions where high UV, high chemical corrosion, and high wear of ropes and metal equipment are common variables.
We cannot always expect international regulations to be adapted solely in our markets, we need to work as an industry to reduce the overall risks through safe testing and measuring of equipment. If we fail to plan, to begin building lifecycle degredation of key safety equipment, then we can we surely plan to fail especially as the use of rope access becomes the norm and the glass and complicated facades of the buildings in the region continue to be completed.