Rope Access Information and FAQ’s

Q: Why is rope access a better high access solution than scaffolding?

A: We get asked this often and it is primarily based upon what we can reach versus what the scaffolding teams can get to. Scaffolding has a natural way of getting in the wrong place. Exactly where we need to be, there’d be a scaffold pole right there. We can’t tamper with it or move it, so it’s just in the way. With rope access, we can get everywhere because there is nothing (literally) in our way.

It also is a matter of set up and breakdown. The day we arrive is the day we start on the job. When the job is done, we’re out of there. We don’t have a lot of equipment. Everything we bring is strapped to us, aside from the vehicle we arrive in. There’s no heavy equipment to block off a pavement and we don’t require a load of supplies that take days to set up. We simply show up, anchor to the roof and go about our task.


Q: Is it really safe to be hanging off a building on a rope?

A: It’s actually safer than it looks. All of the people on our team have been abseiling for as long as they’ve been involved in rope access as a career. The same principles are applied if you are rock climbing or caving as when you’re on a building, except that you’ll be doing maintenance work at the same time.

All of us are fully certified by IRATA, which is the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association. There are three levels of certification and in the two decades or so that IRATA has been in operation, it has been demonstrated that rope access has the safest record for working at height.

In addition, we never work alone. Then there’s always at least one other co-worker somewhere nearby on the same building, so if a problem did arise, they can provide immediate assistance.


Q: Who should use rope access companies?

A: Anyone who has a building that needs high access or has hard to reach areas can benefit from rope access companies. We not only clean but we can repair and inspect, too. This means that all your maintenance work at height can be taken care of by skilled rope access technicians.

Any time you’ve considered calling in a maintenance company that uses a cherry picker or a scaffolding company, call us instead. We’ll give you a better price and get the job done faster.


Q: Where can rope access crews go?

A: We can go anywhere, basically. We anchor from the top down and are able to go up, down and around once we’re anchored in. This means that if there is a gutter that is recessed into the building or a concave shape to the building, we can get in there to see damage or to simply clean. The techniques that we use allows us to manoeuvre around without any obstacles in our way.

Many people think that we just work at height, but that’s not all we do. We can also go down below where other trades can’t. Scaffolders and cherry pickers go up only. As abseilers, we go down mainly which means we’ve been into caves too, so lower levels and other hard to reach low areas are accessible by us; so if you’ve got an area below ground, you don’t have to worry about getting large construction equipment into location.


Q: Why should I use rope access for building surveying? Binoculars work just fine.

A: Surveying is extremely important because it will tell you the health of your building, inside and out. You may be able to see the area with binoculars, but you’re not going to be able to feel and touch the problem. Many times, the situation looks fine, but at a closer look, or being able to touch it, the problems truly come out. Sometimes, you need specialised equipment up close to inspect the building properly; for instance, we do Concrete Carbonation Testing and for this it is vital that you are right on the building.

Wherever we are working – on parapets, on guttering, at the window sills – there are things that we will be able to see that binoculars simply cannot; a ‘hands-on’ approach is needed often to see exactly what is going on. That’s where rope access inspections become very beneficial.


Q: What makes you so affordable?

A: It’s all based on equipment prices and labour. We don’t have all the set up associated with starting the job that companies who use scaffolding do. The week or so that they take setting all of that up means that those crews need to be paid. So you’ve got the price of the scaffolding material plus the labour that needs to be added somewhere – and it gets added to the total bill.

We don’t have all of those expenses. It’s just our rope access specialists and our basic supplies. We use the best materials possible, though, because we aren’t spending a fortune on labour and heavy equipment, and we still come in cheaper than traditional maintenance companies.


Q: What makes you different from the other rope access companies?

A: Our team has been doing rope access work for over 20 years. Not collectively – individually. Combined, we’re well over a hundred years of experience.

More importantly, it’s not just about the rope access but our skills as well. When you call many rope access companies, they are mainly window washers. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just what they do because that’s what most rope access companies are asked to do. The technicians on our team are experienced tradesmen. They know mastic, plastering, brickwork, painting and so on. Other companies might do it, but it’s likely they’ll sub-contract it to a company like Sussex Rope Access. We’re more than happy to help them out.


These are the Trade and Industry Certifications attained by Sussex Rope Access
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