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When Safety at Heights Matters, Rope Access Offers a Line

Insights - Rope Access - Gannett Fleming.
Author: Matthew V. Buche, PG, Project Geologist, Dams and Hydraulics

If you’re responsible for tall or elevated infrastructure, such as a dam or bridge, then you recognize the difficult challenge of accessing hard-to-reach project sites. Conventional manlifts or scaffolding are common, but they have their accessibility limits. If conventional means can’t get you where you need to be or are cost prohibitive, rope access provides an efficient, cost-effective, and safe alternative.

What is Rope Access?
Rope access refers to a set of techniques using specialized industrial safety equipment and ropes as the primary means of worker support. In other words, without ropes, you would not be able to get close to the site.

Our Rope Access Professionals
Gannett Fleming’s team of rope access engineers and geologists use rope access techniques for safe, first-hand observation and inspection of tall structures and steep slopes—from inspecting the health of radial gates and penstocks along steep slopes to assessing the aging concrete of dam faces and spillways. We also use ropes to evaluate landslides and potentially unstable ground that may have consequences, like rockfall above a dam abutment or a slide undermining a roadway. 

Training and Certification
Our rope access professionals are trained and certified to the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) guidelines. This means every one of our team members completed a rigorous training course before passing a certification knowledge and skills test, renew their certification by retaking and passing the test every 3-years, and complete Gannett Fleming’s annual refresher training to stay sharp. It also means our specialized equipment, harnesses, and ropes meet or exceeds ANSI and OSHA safety standards.

Why Not Use Drones?
Drones are a valuable assessment tool that we use together with rope access to evaluate site conditions. We own and deploy drones, and our operators are highly skilled at flying sites to gather imagery, which we frequently use to create digital terrain models using photogrammetry. Drone technology is revolutionizing many industries, especially engineering and geology. But if the project calls for close-up visual inspection and measurement, or requires a hands-on effort to install instrumentation, drones are not an option (not yet anyway). In these situations, rope access works best.

Excellence Delivered as Promised
If you have difficult-to-access structures or potentially unstable slopes requiring the services of an engineer or geologist and would like to learn more about our rope access service, please email me at to learn how our team can provide the solution.

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