Frequently Asked Questions

Yes we do.  Our equipment store specialises in gear for rope rescue, working at heights and rope access and is located within our training facility at Unit 4, 118-120 Somers Street Lawson.  The shop is open to the public 9.00am to 4pm Mondays to Fridays, however, if you’d like to catch up with one of our industry experts, we’d appreciate a call before you drop by (02 4784 2224) in case there is nobody available to answer your questions.

The store stocks all of the brands that you can find on our web-site – CMC, Bluewater, Conterra, DMM, ISC, Kong, Maillon Rapide, Petzl, PMI, Rock Exotica, Skylotec, SMC, Sterling, TAZ and Yates Gear – and is staffed by personnel who are experts in the field.

You are welcome to drop in and have a browse or just ask a question. In addition, we supply Black Diamond, Climbtech, Harken Industrial, 3M and the list goes on …… The store accepts payment by Visa, Mastercard, American Express, EFTPOS, Apple Pay and Goggle Pay.

As an organisation, we will always acknowledge any qualifications or Statements of Attainments that you may have that have been issued by any other Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

In addition, we also recognise that you may have significant experience in an area, which qualifies as prior learning.   For example, if you have previously completed a course with another training organisation, and you believe that the content of that course is related to the course that we are offering you, then you may be entitled to RPL or Recognition of Prior Learning.

This may shorten the duration of your course, and/or mean that you qualify for a discounted course price. A similar situation exists if you have considerable experience in the area(s) that your course covers.

We are often asked by people who are interested in starting in rope access what gear they will need to start work. Our short answer is that the equipment that you need to start in rope access varies slightly depending on where you will be working. What you eventually purchase will also depend on what gear you are most comfortable using and wearing.

We finish this answer by strongly recommending that you should undertake rope access training before you buy ANY kit. During your training try all of the options that the trainer provides, and then make your decision on what to buy based on the knowledge you have just acquired. Given this answer, the following list is only a guideline of what may be included in a typical rope access kit:

There are, of course, many additional items you might need like gear bags, rope bags, rope guards and pulleys, however, the above list would be your basic kit and you should budget between $2,500 and $3,500 to get started.  (Participants on our rope access courses receive discounts on our advertised prices, so just ask us for some advice).

The short answer is ‘yes and no’. Rescue equipment (which can of course be used for other purposes) will typically be designed and manufactured in accordance with one or more Australian or International Standards.  Techniques and methodologies however may well fall outside the provision of most standards, particularly in Australia. The Standards Australia committee SF-015 responsible for height safety, fall arrest and rope access systems lists their ‘terms of reference’ as follows:

‘To provide suppliers and users with product specifications and use requirements for a range of personal and common use protective equipment for use in fall protection and industrial rope access. Excluded: rescue equipment’.

Operating procedures and methodologies used by professional and volunteer organisations come ultimately under the mandate of Emergency Management Australia and in NSW, the State Rescue Board(SRB). SRB policies are applicable to organisations such as Police Rescue, SES, VRA, BWRS and so on. Some organisations with high level, specific situation requirements such as SCAT operate outside SRB guidelines. Individuals or organisations (such as a crane rigging company or a mine site) have the latitude to develop their own in house emergency response capability, particularly in the area of post fall recovery where fall arrest systems are being used.  This capability does not have to be in accordance with SRB policies and would be removed from both AS 1891 and AS 4488 as there is no specific information in either of these standards detailing rescue procedures. Occupational Health and Safety Regulations place a requirement on employers to ensure that:

‘Adequate provision is made for the rescue of a person whose fall is arrested by a fall arrest device’.

Given what is currently understood about orthostatic intolerance, or the body’s inability to withstand immobile suspension in a harness for even relatively short periods of time, this ‘provision for rescue’ needs to be a comprehensive pre-plan resourced with appropriate equipment and training.

Strictly speaking, no, they are quite different.

First of All Rigging

The Victorian Workcover Authority Guide to Rigging defines rigging as ‘work involving the use of mechanical load shifting equipment and associated gear to move, place or secure a load including plant, equipment or members of a building or structure and to ensure the stability of those members and the setting-up and dismantling of cranes and hoists’. It continues:

“There are four certificate levels involved in rigging: Dogging, Basic Rigging, Intermediate Rigging and Advanced Rigging. Basic Rigging Those qualified in Basic Rigging must know how to carry out work associated with movement of plant and equipment, steel erection, particular hoists, placement of pre-cast concrete, safety nets and static lines, mast climbers, perimeter safety screens and shutters, and cantilevered crane loading platforms. Intermediate Rigging Those qualified in Intermediate Rigging must know how to carry out work associated with all Basic Rigging competencies as well as the rigging of cranes conveyors dredges and excavators, all hoists, tilt slabs, demolition, and dual lifts. Advanced Rigging Those qualified in Advanced Rigging must know how to carry out work associated with all Basic and Intermediate Rigging competencies as well as the rigging of gin poles and shear legs, flying foxes and cableways, guyed derricks and structures, and suspended scaffolds and fabricated hung scaffolds.”

The actual fall protection/height safety component of a Basic Rigging course is quite small. Riggers are not trained as part of rigging competencies to use rope access techniques at all.  The crossover however between rigging competencies and high level rope access skills are vast; many rope access technicians are also qualified riggers.

How Does Rope Access Fit In?

Modern rope access systems are a combination of working in restraint and work positioning.  Generally speaking, when configured and used correctly, there should be little or no potential for a true ‘fall’ during a rope access procedure.

Rope access methods may be used on both natural and artificial surfaces & structures. Common tasks undertaken may include weeding cliff lines, cleaning windows on high rise buildings, carrying out maintenance work on oil rigs, performing technical inspections on dam walls, replacing light fixtures in a building atrium and so on.  The list of possibilities is truly endless.  Statistically speaking rope access is safer than both scaffolding and EWP(elevated work platform) methods and is currently used around the world by thousands of rope access technicians.

The Cordage Institute has been in existence since 1920 and is an international association dedicated to the dissemination of information to industry regarding rope, cord and twine products. When it comes to rope access & rescue, rope is of course what makes it all work & typically we talk about using either Nylon or Polyester ‘kernmantle’ type rope. Have you ever wondered just what these terms actually mean…? Below are the definitions (shown in inverted commas) from The Cordage Institute’s website.

Kernmantle Rope:

“A rope design consisting of two elements: an interior core (kern) and an outer sheath (mantle). The core supports the major portion of the load; and may be of parallel strands, braided strands or braided. The sheath serves primarily to protect the core and also supports a portion of the load. There are three types: static, low stretch and dynamic. (CI-1801, 2005)”

Both nylon and polyester ropes, as used for rope access and rescue, are kernmantle ropes.

Nylon(PA) Rope:

“A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance (polyamide) is characterized by recurring amide groups as an integral part of the polymer chain. The two principal types of nylon fiber used in rope production are type 66 and type 6. The number six in the type designation is indicative of the number of carbon atoms contained in the reactants for the polymerization reaction. (CI-1201, 1303, 1306, 1310, 1312, 1321,1601, 2003)”

Nylon ropes are generally available as either static, low stretch or dynamic.

Polyester(PET) Rope:

“A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance (polyester) is characterized by a long chain polymer having 85% by weight of an ester of a substituted aromatic carboxylic acid. The most frequently used acid is terephthalic acid in the presence of ethylene glycol. (CI-1201, 1302A, 1302B, 1304, 1305, 1307, 1311, 1322, 2003, 2009)”

Polyester ropes are generally only available as a static type rope.

Not so long ago ‘kernmantle‘ (core/sheath) ropes used for climbing, rope access & rescue work were all predominantly nylon. Recent fibre and rope manufacturing developments have seen significant changes not only in the way these ropes are constructed but also in what they are made of. A wide array of work and rescue ropes are now available in polyester… so why would one choose polyester over nylon?

Work and rescue ropes constructed from ‘high tenacity polyester’ or HTP offer quite different characteristics to nylon. Polyester is typically used in ‘static’ type ropes or those with minimal elongation under load. Minimal elongation is ideal for vertical mobility, load raising & lowering and high-line rigging. Polyester is typically more abrasion resistant that nylon (the fibre has a higher denier) making it more able to deal with the demands of rope access & rescue work. Polyester does not lose any strength when wet (unlike nylon which does) & is somewhat more resistant to chemicals.Nylon or Polyester… which one to use?

While there is no definitive reason why one might adopt polyester over nylon there are marked differences between the two & for work & rescue, polyester has become a solid contender to the time proven nylon rope.

To find out more about the ropes that we recommend for working at heights, technical rope rescue and rope access, visit our equipment pages.

Although we are obviously well placed to undertake equipment inspections, we do not offer a PPE Tagging Service. Why don’t we offer to Tag your PPE?

The issues with tagging of PPE and so forth are these:

1. It is not a legislative requirement.

2. No PPE manufacturer actually warrants or requires the placing of third party inspection tags on their products.

3. There is no formal national qualification for this type of inspection work per se. Many people erroneously understand this as something ‘riggers’ are qualified to do. This is absolutely not the case. There is no component of the rigging competency skill set that covers height PPE inspection.

Rigging by definition

     is ‘moving and securing loads’. The actual inspection criteria is listed in AS 1891 Fall Arrest Systems and Devices (a voluntary standard by the way) and can be performed by any ‘competent person’.

4. The tagging of height PPE has become a potted industry in Australia & many companies offering it are doing so under false pretences, usually lumping it in with the inspection of lifting equipment or in some cases even electrical tagging. Please note this tagging process does not happen in either Europe or North America, only Australia.

5. Plastic zip tags create hazards when placed on harnesses and the like, especially on connection point D rings. As an example,in over 16 years of running programs, a plastic zip inventory tag has been the source of the only single incident that has ever occurred (nasty finger cut & nothing to do with what we were doing). Compliance tags on D rings have been the cause of at least one definite and a few other suspected fatalities in Australia where the operator connected into the tag instead of the D ring (the fatality occurred in WA in a shaft).

6. The tagging phenomenon has created a culture where operators are only now looking for a tag before they don a harness, not doing a ‘pre use inspection’ which is the preferred option. The skill to do this (and deem the person a competent person) is, or very well should be, part of a basic

height safety course

    … it certainly is on ours. The danger with yearly tagging is that the harness is only really valid at time of inspection, not 6 weeks or 6 months down the track.

To conclude, we actively discourage tagging of PPE and other height related equipment. It is in effect counter productive and potentially dangerous. When equipment is checked (by a third party or whoever) the results should be logged in a PPE register only.

We trust the leading brands

Harken Industrial
TAZ Logo

Join our newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest news, events and offers from Safety Access Rescue.