There has always been a big debate in the rope access community if Rope access is a stand alone trade or if rope access is just a means to access and the technician needs a skill / trade once at the desired working area. At rope works we firmly believe that rope access is a means to access and once at the desired work site the technician must have the desired skill set to complete the job. It is no good employing a technician to do a task if he or she has no experience or qualifications in that role previously. There are a few exceptions to this which only work if the technician is a level 3. If the level 3’s job is to be a rescue cover operative then he or she should know this role already. He should have experience in the role previously and over the years he has been working as a rope access technician he should have gained the experience and be competent as a rescue cover operative.
OK so there are a lot of people still using shunts on jobs. Is this just frowned upon by the odd level three or is this a serious risk to yourself and your other work colleagues. Lets do some research and find out.
A simple google search for “are shunts to be used in rope access” gave a result from Petzl themselves, stating:
“Previous Petzl statements required special training for this specific use of the Petzl Shunt. The lack of any described methods or special training therefore makes these previous Petzl statements obsolete.
As a measure of precaution, Petzl recommends to NOT use the Petzl Shunt, while towed by a cord, as a back-up device in rope access.”
So there you have it straight from Petzl. Petzl state that they recommend you not to use a shunt as a backup device in for rope access. Rope works will only use back up devices from approved suppliers which conform to EN IS and BN standards.
So, the HSE.GOV web portal states that if a company employees less than 5 employees on a full time basis then they do not need a written down risk assessment or Health and safety policy. For us this is wrong. Any task undertaken by a company big or small should always take the necessary precautions when identifying the hazards and minimizing the risks. Rope works will always work to our own health and safety policy and use site specific risk assessments to aide us in evaluating both hazards and risks.