The International Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) offers three levels of certification to rope access technicians to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and experience to work at height as either an IRATA Level 1, 2 or 3 technician. All accreditations need to be renewed on a three-yearly basis.
Level 1 is the basic rope access technician accreditation, obtained after training and assessment. Level 2 shows that the technician has undertaken further training in rope access, rigging, and rescue and logged at least 1,000 hours of work over a minimum of a 12 month period. Level 3 builds on that, requiring an extra 1,000 hours of recorded work, an additional 12 months experience at level 2 and further in-depth training.
Becoming a Level 3 technician is a significant achievement and requires long-term dedication and commitment. It shows that the technician has undertaken many hours of work practising their skills and that they have been instructed in the most complex rigging scenarios and technical rescues to ensure that they are competent to lead a rope access team.
More than a procedure
Becoming a Level 3 technician isn’t easy. It is a privilege to have successfully completed the necessary training, not just a piece of paper.
With that privilege comes responsibility. A level 3 technician is more than just the supervisor – they need to take control and know that their mindset will influence the entire work party. Reaching level 3 is as much about the person the technician is, as about their technical know-how. Ultimately, the level 3 technician is responsible not just for their own safety but that of their team, and of bystanders and other contractors who may be working on or near the site.
A level 3 technician needs to be able to liaise with the client, to be able to combine their working standards with the specifications and standards the client requires without endangering the project. They need to be able to enthuse their team and ensure that a culture of adherence to safety standards is maintained. Ultimately, it’s the level 3 that will decide on the success of the job, whether that’s choosing the correct rigging techniques or being able to get the team out of the canteen on a miserable Monday.
Leading by example
Reaching level 3 means reaching an extremely competent level of rope access ability and a level 3 technician influences the entire team. They need to avoid complacency and wear correct PPE at all times. They need to encourage detailed pre-use inspections and have a “look twice, leap once” outlook. Safety needs to be their middle name, and they need the management skills to nip dangerous practices, horseplay and downplaying of safety concerns in the bud, to promote a secure and efficient workplace.
An extension of the company
Rope access companies rely on their level 3 technicians to maintain company standards. They expect that the person supervising the job will create the right impression when on site. Clients expect professionalism when they outsource a task, and it is up to the level 3 technician to maintain their company’s image.