An Overview of Rope Access for Commercial/Industrial Use

Some of the earliest use of ropes for carrying people involved mountaineering and climbing. Since then, the use of ropes has expanded beyond recreational use to many commercial and industrial purposes. In addition, standards for rope access training and certifications have been established over time by associations like the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT).

The most common commercial rope access use most people associate with ropes is probably window washers on high rise buildings, but rope access uses extends to far more than window washing. Below are examples of a few commercial, industrial and rescue areas that rope access technicians are involved in.


Bridge and building inspections

Rope specialists can conduct inspections of structures such as bridges, dams, tanks or silos. Although remotely-operated devices, such as drones, can also be used for this purpose, using a technician has more flexibility. A live person can take videos, photographs, provide a live feed, and respond to questions or requests while they are performing the inspection.

Tower and building repairs and maintenance

Specialists can perform non-destructive testing and complete repairs such as coating, caulking, taping and weatherproofing on structures like wind turbines, cell towers, steeples, high rises, monuments. Technicians can also install, remove or replace components such as sensors, lighting or signage, glass or cables.

Specialized construction

Rope technicians are a cost effective way to complete specific construction projects in hard to reach places. Instead of creating scaffolding which takes time and materials, a rope access specialist can safety and competently reach the location in a shorter period of time. Specialists can also be more cost effective than using cranes.

Rope Rescue

High Angle Rescue

Industrial settings in areas such as oil, gas and mining often involve employees working at heights high above or below the ground. During turnaround or shutdown periods, when incidents happen, you need specialized rescue technicians who have training to deal with specific confined space and high angle rescue scenarios.

Fire Rescue

Standards for rope rescue came about in the early 1980s after an incident in New York City in 1980 when two firefighters had a fatal accident after a rope failed as they tried to escape from the 7th floor of a building. Standards include National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1983, NFPA 1006 and NFPA 1670 which aimed to set standards for rope rescue practices such as terminology, equipment, training requirements and certification levels.

For more information on how rope access can meet your commercial or industrial needs, contact Steve Gruber at or (780) 819-8027.