Your Guide to Becoming a Certified Rope Access Technician in Australia.

Rope access is the fastest-growing sector in the remedial trade works market. With increasing demand and lucrative salaries, becoming a rope access technician can provide much more than an exciting career change. If you’re considering a career in rope access, undertaking proper training and gaining or upgrading your certification level is an important step.

The Importance of Proper Training in Rope Access

Despite the inherent dangers, rope access has established itself as one of the safest methods for working at heights. This impressive safety record is a culmination of the industry’s stringent training, equipment standards, and operational guidelines.

Rope Access falls under the same legal requirements as fall arrest systems where the user must be deemed competent to perform the task. A competent person is “a person who has acquired through training, qualifications or experience the knowledge and skills to carry out the task”

As Rope Access requires a high level of competency on the part of the user, competency is shown through maintaining a current and valid rope access qualification, combined with the operative’s LogBook which documents recent work signed off by an authorised person.

Rope Access Certification Bodies in Australia

In Australia, the primary body for rope access certification is the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA). IRATA is an internationally recognised association that sets standards for rope access work globally. Their certification is widely accepted and recognised in many countries. including Australia. Both Safe Work Australia and the Working At Heights Association (WAHA) promote IRATA.

Another organisation is The Society Of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT). While being very popular in North America, SPRAT training and certification is far less common in Australia.

Both of these organisations aim to promote safety, provide training, and ensure that technicians are certified to a high standard. If you’re considering a career in rope access in Australia, it would be beneficial to seek IRATA certification to maximize employment opportunities.

Two Anchor Safe Rope Access technicians preparing to abseil a building's facade in Sydney Australia

Levels of Certification

IRATA has established a tiered certification system for rope access technicians. The system is designed to ensure that technicians receive training appropriate to their experience and the complexity of tasks they are expected to undertake. After completing the training for each level, candidates must pass an independent assessment to achieve certification. It’s also worth noting that IRATA certifications are valid for three years, after which technicians must undergo a revalidation process.

IRATA Level 1 (Technician)

This is entry-level certification for those new to rope access. Technicians at this level can perform a specified range of rope access tasks under the supervision of a Level 3 technician.

  • Prerequisites: Be 18 years of age or above and medically and physically fit (requires IRATA medical declaration)
  • Training Duration: Minimum of 4 days of training followed by an assessment on the 5th day.
  • Skills Covered: Basic rope access techniques, including ascending, descending, basic rescues, and equipment care.
  • Limitations: Level 1 technicians must always work under the direct supervision of at least a level 3 technician.

IRATA Level 2 (Operative)

Level 2 (Operative) is for those who have some experience in rope access and are looking to take on more complex tasks and basic rigging.

  • Prerequisites: Minimum of 1 year and 1,000 hours of work experience as a level 1 technician.
  • Training Duration: Minimum of 4 days of training followed by an assessment on the 5th day.
  • Skills Covered: More advanced rope access techniques, including complex rigging, advanced rescues, and aid climbing.
  • Limitations: Level 2 technicians can perform more complex tasks but will still require supervision from a Level 3 qualified supervisor, though not as direct as Level 1 technicians.

IRATA Level 3 (Supervisor)

Level 3 (supervisor) is the highest level of certification in the IRATA hierarchy and is intended for those who will take on supervisory roles, overseeing the safety and work of Level 1 and Level 2 technicians.

  • Prerequisites: Minimum of 1 year and 1,000 hours of work experience as a Level 2 technician. A valid first aid certificate is also often required.
  • Training Duration: Minimum of 4 days of training followed by an assessment on the 5th day.
  • Skills Covered: Advanced rigging and rescue techniques, site supervision, risk assessment, and emergency procedures.
  • Responsibilities: Level 3 technicians are responsible for the overall safety of rope access operations, ensuring that work is conducted according to IRATA guidelines and standards.

Choosing an IRATA Training Provider

Choosing the right IRATA training provider is crucial. Remember, the goal is not just to get certified but to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to work safely and efficiently in rope access. Here’s some advice for those seeking IRATA training:

Accreditation

  • Ensure that the training provider is officially accredited by IRATA. Accredited providers adhere to IRATA’s strict training standards and guidelines. You can check the official IRATA website to verify accreditation providers.

Reputation

  • Research the reputation of the training provider. Look for reviews, and testimonials, or ask for recommendations from colleagues or industry professionals. A training provider with a strong reputation is likely to offer high-quality training.

Facilities

  • Consider the training facilities. A good training provider should have well-equipped facilities that simulate real-world rope access scenarios. This ensures that you get hands-on experience in a controlled environment.

Trainer Experience

  • Investigate the experience and qualifications of the trainers. Experienced trainers not only provide instruction but also share real-world insights, tips, and best practices.

Class Size

  • Smaller class sizes can offer more personalized attention, ensuring that each student gets adequate hands-on practice and immediate feedback.

Course Duration & Content

  • Ensure that the course covers the full IRATA syllabus for the level you’re aiming for. While the minimum training duration is set by IRATA, some providers might offer extended courses with additional content, which can be beneficial.

Cost

  • While cost is a factor, it shouldn’t be the only consideration. Remember that in rope access, quality training is an investment in safety. However, it’s wise to compare prices among accredited providers to ensure you’re getting good value.

Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Whether it’s about the course content, trainer qualifications, or any other aspect, a reputable training provider should be willing and able to provide clear answers.

Two Anchor Safe Rope Access technicians on a job site

Summary

Rope Access is more than just a job; it’s a commitment to safety, skill, and continuous learning. As you consider this career path, remember the importance of proper training and certification from a quality provider.

Anchor Safe Rope Access is hiring qualified tradespeople, such as Painters, Renderers, Waterproofers, or Carpenters with IRATA Level 2 or 3 competency in the Greater Sydney Area. We offer competitive rates based on experience with options for visa sponsorship and level upgrades/revalidation.

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Author Bio

Brad Love is a veteran of the rope access painting and decorating industry, with over 47 years of experience under his belt. Brad is the Service Design and Estimator at Anchor Safe Rope Access and a trusted voice in the painting and decorating community.

Anchor Safe Rope Access

Proudly Australian-owned and backed by the strength of a national height safety leader, Anchor Safe Rope Access is a proven and respected provider of external high-rise cleaning, painting and maintenance in Sydney. Our Rope Access teams are highly skilled and accredited height safety specialists as well as trade-certified technicians, so you can trust Anchor Safe Rope Access to provide award-winning services at competitive prices.

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