Work-at-height training provider Height Wise Training Academy is promoting professionalism within the work-at-height industry by encouraging and adhering to standards that are often overlooked by certain companies that employ rope access and fall-arrest technicians.
Height Wise MD Penny Fabricius says that to cut costs, certain companies are contracting level one rope access technicians without the necessary level three technician supervision.
Height Wise technical director Christo Swanepoel says that a level one technician cannot work without the supervision of a level three technician. A level two technician is authorised to supervise only if the work is routine and if rope manoeuvres are limited.
Fabricius says that, because of the high costs involved in rope access services, companies naturally try to cut corners.
One of the constraints in setting up a rope access entity is the high cost. To fully kit out a rope technician costs between R6 000 and R7 000, which excludes the initial training, as well as the competence assessments, required every three years.
Certain companies request second-hand equipment in a bid to cut costs. Fabricius says that when working at height, safety should be the number one priority.
“It is this sort of attitude that we are try- ing to counteract with the professionalism of the Institute for Work at Height (IWH), which is promoting professional standards within the work-at-height industry,” says Fabricius.
Once trained, fall-arrest and rope access technicians are certified by the IWH. Fabricius says that this gives technicians the professional stamp and says that they adhere to certain standards.
Meanwhile, Swanepoel says that it is important to point out that a professional rope access company will never send a team of rope access technicians through to a company or project without the correct supervision and equipment.
The company’s philosophy is to support the creation of careers and opportunities for employees in the rope access and work-at-height sector and within the broader construction-related contracting field.
The philosophy ties in with the Skills Development Act, which aims to develop the skills of South Africa’s workforce, improve workplace productivity, using the workplace as an active learning environment and provide employees with opportunities to acquire new and relevant skills.
The company’s certified courses include fall arrest and height safety, as well as rope access levels one, two and three. The training courses are conducted in accordance with the standards laid out by the IWH and the National Qualifications Framework.
Swanepoel says that fall-arrest training is a legal requirement for employers to comply with the construction regulations (Chapters 7 and 8) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Act stipulates that persons working at a height of 2 m or above be trained in fall arrest.
Rope access training is controlled by the South African Bureau of Standards SANS 10333-1 to -3 standards.
These standards have now been incorporated into the rope access unit standards, which are registered with the South African Qualifications Authority.