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IRATA Level 1
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What is IRATA ?
12. What Next?
The Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA)
The Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) was formed in the late 1980's by a small number of leading Rope Access companies. It was supported by the UK's Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to provide a safe working environment for the growing industry.
Since its formation, IRATA and its member companies have worked assiduously to improve safety in the industry and has produced an International Code of Practice and a Training and Certification Scheme.
Rope access provides an effective, efficient and economic means of access. It must, however, be carried out in a proficient and safe manner.
IRATA's main activities are to:
• Promote and maintain a high standard of industrial rope access activities in terms of safety and work quality.
• Provide guidance on training and certification of personnel involved in Industrial Rope Access.
• Produce publications and guidance on good working practice, training and other related topics.
• Prepare submission and provide informed opinion and advice to government departments and others on matters concerning health, safety and training.
• Assist working parties charged with commenting on and discussing existing and draft legislation and directives.
• Assist in the provision of appropriate educational training and certification opportunities for personnel employed in Industrial Rope Access.
• Provide a forum for the free and informal exchange of experience and opinion.
IRATA Training & Certification Scheme
IRATA Level 1 Course
Candidates with no previous experience will be required to carry out a 5 day IRATA Level 1 course. The qualification has a validity of 3 years. Once qualified, technicians are required to work under the supervision of an IRATA Level 3 Safety Supervisor. As soon as technicians have gained a minimum of 1000 hours of varied industrial rope access experience over a minimum period of 12 months they will be eligible to carry out an IRATA Level 2 course.
IRATA Level 2 Course.
This 5 day course refreshes candidates in the basic techniques and covers the additional rigging and rescue techniques required of a rope access Lead Technician.
A further minimum of 1000 hours of varied industrial rope access experience over a further minimum period of 12 months and technicians may be ready to carry out a 5 day IRATA Level 3 course.
IRATA Level 3 Course.
This 5 day course refreshes Lead Technicians in techniques and current legislation and covers the additional advanced rigging and rescue techniques required of a rope access Level 3 Safety Supervisor. Level 3 technicians are required to hold a suitable First Aid qualification.
As a Level 3 Safety Supervisor, with appropriate experience you could be responsible for any rope access work site.
IRATA Revalidation Course
All IRATA technicians are required to revalidate their qualification every three years. By attending our 5 day revalidation course you will be updated on current technique, legislation and industry best practice.
The UK construction industry is diverse, offering a challenging variety of work. Many of our candidates are regularly gaining employment in the industry with just an IRATA Level 1 certificate, but additional qualifications will improve your prospects.
Most UK building sites under the management of an MCG (Major Contractors Group) member will require all operatives to hold a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card. This requires you to pass a touch screen safety test, which should include the ‘work at height’ element. Contact www.cscs.uk.com for information relating to this qualification.
Holding a Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) (Cherry Picker) qualification for Scissor lifts and Booms is very useful. Contact www.ipaf.org for information relating to these qualifications.
A qualification for the installation of Safety Nets is another useful one to have. Whilst MEWP’s are generally used for their installation, rope access methods are regularly used for rigging the more remote areas and during the de-rigging operations. Some of these net systems are rigged in tension to allow workers to walk on them whilst being protected by a secondary rope system. Contact www.faset.org.uk for information relating to these qualifications.
Under the ‘Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations’ (LOLER) and the ‘Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations’ (PPE), all rope access equipment requires a detailed examination at regular intervals. Examinations are, depending on their application, carried out by a competent person every 6 or 12 months. Contact www.lyon.co.uk for information relating to these qualifications.
A lot of work is carried out inside ‘Confined Spaces’ and as such holding a suitable qualification would be an advantage.
Contact www.minesrescue.com for information relating to these qualifications.
Where further specialized training is a requirement then your employing company will usually arrange this.
It is at the final stages of construction where our access techniques mostly come into play. The installation of structural steel & cladding, fabric roofing, electrical installation, painting, cleaning, safety systems installation and fire deluge systems are just a handful of work options that could be open to you.
In the construction industry the employment of rope access technicians is currently booming. Architects now design buildings with a combination of state of the art cradle systems and rope access techniques in mind. The skylines of growing cities are a rope access paradise. The Shard in London already has rope access teams carrying out maintenance work. The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, is continually maintained by rope access teams. You could work on some of the worlds most prestigious and iconic structures and build an impressive photo CV.
Many of you will have seen large expanses of mesh attached to the sides of railway and motorway embankments. Usually they have been installed using rope access methods. The mesh is to hold back, often 1000’s of kg. of loose rocks. For many years into the future the cliffs of Gibraltar will continue to be systematically stabilized using some of the most complex suspended drilling systems ever deployed. It is on these cliffs that many of the countries leading geotechnical companies have honed their trades.
The work is hard and during the summer months the long hours can take its toll on the unfit. The work, however, is some of the most satisfying. Many recent projects have been upwards of 12 months duration. The workforce often live ‘on-site’ in caravans and mobile homes, often with some fantastic coastal views to greet you every morning.
Much of the work is on the UK rail network and as such you would be required to carry out a medical. The medical is mandatory and has strict health and fitness requirements as well as a strict alcohol and drugs policy. You would then need to carry out a Personal Track Safety (PTS) course, whilst being sponsored by an approved company. Contact www.mtrgroup.com for information relating to these qualifications. Your employing company would generally put you through this qualification.
The number of wind farms is growing at an astonishing rate. These are being built both on and offshore and much of the external maintenance work is carried out using rope access methods. This should keep regular rope access teams in employment for the foreseeable future. Whilst expensive, a turbine blade repair and maintenance qualification would be useful as well as having an appropriate offshore survival and confined space qualification. There is also a requirement to hold a suitable turbine access and rescue qualification. Contact www.lyon.co.uk for information relating to these qualifications
The amount of glass being used in the construction industry is increasing. The famous Shard and Swiss Re building ‘The Gherkin’, in London being classic examples. The top sloping section of the 'Gherkin' was installed by rope access methods. Windows will always need cleaning and if you don’t want to actually clean them you could be using rope access techniques to install the permanent cradle systems that allow others to clean them.
Offshore North Sea
Whilst the North Sea oil reserves are depleting, there is currently an unprecedented amount of maintenance work being carried out on our ageing fleet of offshore oil and gas installations. In many cases bringing them up to current regulations prior to decommissioning. These are upwards of 5 year projects. The days of the offshore ‘Roustabout’ are pretty much gone. Today the workforce is made up of fully qualified technicians. In order to gain employment in the offshore industry as a rope access technician, you will need to specialize in a particular field.
There is a reasonable amount of work for rope access electricians with a suitable ‘CompEx’ electrical qualification. Contact www.met-uk.com for information relating to these qualifications.
There is a constant requirement for offshore oil and gas installations to have a suitable and sufficient protective coating and to this end the North Sea summer months see rope access teams blasting and spaying the installation jackets from top to water. Learning how to blast and spray on the end of a rope is not the easiest technique to master and specialist training should be carried out before considering this field. Contact www.opito.com for information relating to these qualifications.
Many of the large decommissioning projects currently under way require large scale lifting operations to be carried out by the rope access technicians. Contact www.opito.com for information relating to relevant offshore ‘lifting and slinging’ qualifications.
Non Destructive Testing (NDT) is the most popular field for industrial rope access. It allows suitably qualified technicians to carry out essential thickness gauging of steel plate and pipe. It allows detailed examinations of welds by way of a number of different techniques including Magnetic Particle / Penetrant, Radiography and Paint inspection. Contact www.ruanetpo.com for information relating to these qualifications.
Rope Access Technicians considering this line of work should seriously consider gaining ALL the NDT qualifications in order to stand out above the rest. Ensure you also gain the offshore survival qualification which covers ALL of the North Sea and not just the UK sector. Contact www.hota.org for information relating to these qualifications.
It would be worth having a United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) medical before you embark on any training for the offshore industry. The medical is mandatory and has strict health and fitness requirements as well as a strict alcohol and drugs policy. Contact www.ukooa.co.uk for information relating to this medical.
NOTE: Ensure the rope access industry is for you by attending an IRATA course prior to investing many £1,000’s in NDT and offshore survival qualifications. Nearly all NDT work off shore is carried out by multi disciplined, rope access teams.
The offshore industry around the world is as busy as the North Sea. Choosing one of the specialist trades mentioned above and gaining the necessary qualifications will allow you to travel all over the world.
The worlds ‘Supertanker’ oil cargo fleet requires regular NDT inspections. These are mostly carried out whilst the ships are in transit typically between Singapore and Dubai. Rope access teams would board the vessels after crude oil unloading and carry out the inspections of the insides of the tanks from ropes, in transit, before departing again after the surveys have been completed. An increasing number of bulk carriers and container ships are inspected in the same way.
Employment Status & Remuneration
When starting off in the ‘on-shore’ rope access industry you should be registered as ’self employed’. You are very likely to be working for a number of different companies in order to gain sufficient, varied experience to enable you to move through the IRATA certification scheme. This will also allow you to find your own preferred industry sector.
Good Level 1’s can earn around £100.00 per day with overnight expenses at around £30.00 per night. Some companies also pay travelling expenses. I know of a number of our recently qualified Level 1 technicians who were earning £150.00 per day however this should not be considered the norm.
Being ‘self employed’ brings with it certain responsibilities. You will be responsible for keeping your own business accounts, paying your required NI contributions and making your annual personal tax payments. It would be worth securing the services of an accountant or suitably qualified bookkeeper to help with your tax returns.
Occasionally you may work on a ‘priced’ job. Your team will agree a set fee with the rope access company for carrying out a particular contract and if it is completed to the total satisfaction of the company and you have finished the job ahead of time then you would be paid the total fee. On many occasions, with a good team, it is sometimes possible to almost double your normal daily rate. It must be pointed out however, that if the contract goes over your estimated time then your earnings could be considerably less than your normal daily rate and if the works were done to an unsatisfactory standard and had to be re-done then you could end up owing the company money. Suitable insurance should be purchased if taking on this type of work.
An increasing number of the larger companies are taking on staff on a ‘per contract’ basis. Under this type of employment your NI and Tax contributions are deducted at source. This means your take home pay will be approximately 30% less than your top line. It is likely at the end of the financial year that you will be entitled to a Tax rebate. Your accountant or bookkeeper will again be able to help reduce your Tax burden and thus the size of any rebate that may be due. As soon as the job is completed, your contract will end. You will then be free to work for another company, or you will be given a further contract.
The offshore industry works in a similar way. Rates of pay in the offshore industry are fairly standardized based on your particular trade qualifications but are considerably more than the on-shore industry. A working day is 12 hours and you would often be working 2 – 3 weeks on and 2 -3 weeks off although there are a number of variations on the rota systems in operation. You are not generally paid during your leave time however some companies do pay a small retainer for senior technicians. For Taxation reasons, many offshore workers set themselves up as a ‘Limited Company’ requiring them to hold suitable insurance. You should contact your accountant for more information on this type of employment status.
About Your IRATA Course
All IRATA courses are 5 day events. The course starts on a Monday morning in the classroom where you will be introduced to the course objectives. You will be given valuable information on the industry and discuss both employer and employee responsibilities under current UK industry law. You will also receive education in current ‘work at height’ industry Regulations. You will have access to a wide range of IRATA and other documents and receive a copy of the most comprehensive industrial rope access manual currently available.
The rest of the week is predominantly practical in nature as all IRATA Levels advance their techniques. Level 1 candidates will gain a gradual exposure to height as they become more familiar with the equipment culminating, on Thursday afternoon, with an unassisted, controlled descent, from the top of the 30m high Magna Tower, the largest and most exposed lattice type rope access training structure in the UK. Experience has shown that many operators favour new technicians who have been exposed to these heights during their training.
The final day of the course consists of an independent IRATA Assessment where your knowledge will be tested against a rigid criteria to ensure that you are able to perform the required techniques, in the way they have been taught, in a safe and efficient manner. There will always be an instructor on hand during the assessment to ensure that a safe and fair assessment is taking place.
The emphasis at IRATA Level 1 is on safety and efficiency, not speed. The work and in particular, the IRATA Level 1 course can be very strenuous and prospective candidates should ensure they have sufficient levels of physical fitness and stamina before booking onto a course. Over the course of the week you will physically climb up almost 0.5km of rope using your own body strength. If you do not take part in any physical pastimes it may be worth considering attending a gym or doing some running prior to the commencement of your course.
IRATA mandates a maximum Candidate / Instructor ratio of 6:1 covering all IRATA Levels. To ensure our candidates receive the best chance of success at assessment, we have a dedicated Level 1 Instructor (Dave Cowley) and a dedicated Level 2/3 Instructor (Liam Wright) and always operate within this ratio. No other IRATA training centre offers dedicated Level 1 Instruction and our consistently high success rates bare witness to our policy.
During your course you will be given valuable advice on the preparation of a CV and offered advice on gaining your first employment. As a totally dedicated, independent training provider we carry out training for some of the larger operating companies. When these companies are recruiting we are often their first port of call.
The entire training team are dedicated and passionate about their industry and will ensure that you have an enjoyable, educational and above all, safe industrial rope access training course. Over the last 10 years at our base at the Magna Tower Training Centre we have seen candidates from every continent. The high number of returning Revalidation, Level 2 and Level 3 course candidates is testament to our high quality of training and after sales service.
Magna Tower Training Centre
Standing in the grounds of the Magna Science Adventure Centre, close to Sheffield's Tinsley Viaduct, this impressive former water tower and associated buildings and structures is ideally suited to the disciplines of industrial rope access.
The 30 metre high Magna Tower offers invaluable advantage of exposure to both height and the elements whilst providing close supervision at all times. It incorporates a variety of purpose designed structures and confined spaces. Prospective employers appreciate this experience, as most Industrial Rope Access work is executed at height, in the open air and in changeable climates. Understanding the changes in the performance of a device or ropes in hot and cold weather and corresponding adaptations in technique and choice of PPE improves efficiency in the field.
Equipped for every module of the IRATA syllabus, our new 15m high indoor facility offers a further dimension in challenging scenarios. The facility has been custom designed for optimum observation, technical challenge and safety. Feedback from our trainees and numerous IRATA Assessors suggests that it is one of the best training facilities in the UK in its own right.
The whole training site simulates a typical industrial environment and the spacious classroom is fully equipped with WiFi access.
IRATA courses are run Monday to Friday, every week except over the two weeks either side of the Easter holiday period, Christmas and New Year and the UK's August bank holiday week. Call: +44 (0) 1709 835 694 for course availability.
IRATA Level 1 course cost £795.00 Inc. Vat. (£662.50 Exc. Vat).
IRATA Level 2 course cost £675.00 Inc. Vat. (£562.50 Exc. Vat).
IRATA Level 3 course cost £675.00 Inc. Vat. (£562.50 Exc. Vat).
IRATA Revalidation course cost £675.00 Inc. Vat. (£562.50 Exc. Vat).
A non refundable £100.00 deposit is required to confirm your place on the course with the balance of course fees due at the commencement of training.
Payment of the deposit should be by debit/credit card or by bank transfer. A course confirmation pack will then be sent out detailing everything you need to know about the course together with details of how to find us. A list of suitable local accommodation is included in the confirmation pack. You will take responsibility for your own accommodation for the duration of the course.
Rope Access Equipment
If you are to make yourself as employable in as many markets as possible it would be worth having your own equipment. We supply a comprehensive set of the most modern equipment at a significantly discounted price to current and former students of £895.00 Inc. Vat.
I would not, however, advise anyone to buy a full kit straight away. Your first job could be for one of the larger contracting companies, who may supply rope access equipment. Should you secure a contract that requires you to supply your own equipment we always carry a large stock of a wide range of height safety equipment and can usually supply equipment by the next working day for orders placed before 12 noon.
When you have read through this information pack and are still keen Call: +44 (0) 1709 835 694 for course availability.
Wishing you every success
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STATEMENT OF MEDICAL CONDITION.
It should be understood that industrial rope access and work @ height operations involve a certain amount of physical and mental exertion. Certain medical conditions are a definite contra indication to the safe and successful completion of industrial rope access and work @ height activities.
Ideally operatives should be in possession of an applicable full industrial medical certificate.
As a minimum, you are required to sign this form to show that to the best of your knowledge you are historically free of the conditions listed below, and therefore there is no reason that would exclude you from participation in an industrial rope access training course.
Principle contra indications to working at height include the following:
If you do not have a medical certificate addressing these points, you should sign the following statement and bring it with you for the commencement of your training course.
Failure to produce a signed certificate will result in you being excluded from participating in an industrial rope access training course.
‘To the best of my knowledge I do not suffer from any mental or physical condition, including those mentioned above, which would interfere with my ability to work at height in a satisfactory and safe manner; or put myself at risk through my participation in rope access activities’.
Next Of Kin:
Contact Number/s …………….……….…………..
1) Heart disease / chest pain. 5) Diabetes controlled by insulin.
2) Epilepsy, fits, blackouts. 6) High blood pressure.
3) Impaired limb function. 7) Fear of heights / Vertigo.
4) Alcohol or drug dependence. 8) Giddiness / difficulty with balance.
9) Psychiatric illness / counselling.
Call: +44 (0) 1709 835 694