We are delighted to have again received a 5* rating in our most recent Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS)Audit.
SAS Rope & Rail Ltd has again been awarded accreditation from Alcumus SafeContractor for achieving excellence in health and safety in the workplace. Alcumus SafeContractor is a leading third party accreditation scheme which recognises extremely rigorous standards in health and safety management amongst contractors. It is used by thousands of organisations in the UK including SMEs and FTSE 100 companies.
The SafeContractor scheme is a SSIP-approved health and safety assessment scheme for contractors who want to demonstrate that they’re taking responsibility for their legal health and safety requirements.
Gemma Archibald, Director of Alcumus SafeContractor said: “Major organisations simply cannot afford to run the risk of employing contractors who are not able to prove that they have sound health and safety policies in place.”
“More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that SAS Rope & Rail Ltd has done. The firm’s high standard has set an example which hopefully will be followed by other companies within the sector. SafeContractor plays a vital role in supporting our clients in meeting their compliance needs, whilst working with their contractors as they progress through the accreditation process.”
SAS Rope & Rail Ltd are extremely pleased to have yet again achieved the maximum result of 5 stars in this year’s RISQS Audit.
Having received 5 stars over the last few years, the pressure was really on this year to keep up this high standard, and to prove to the new RISQS Auditors that we know what we’re doing! The thorough audit was carried out over two days, and we were thrilled to receive the best possible result in all our modules; Industry Minimum Requirements, Sentinel, and Safe Work Planning.
RISQS is the entry point for suppliers to the rail industry and provides a service for the qualification of suppliers. RISQS supports Network Rail, LUL/Transport for London, passenger, main infrastructure contractors and other products and services providers in the management of supply chain risk.
This award is a fantastic achievement for all those involved, who put an enormous amount of effort into ensuring SAS Rope & Rail Ltd were compliant with all the necessary standards. The 5-star rating is confirmation that we offer a quality, safe and reliable service to all our clients.
It’s been a very busy time here at SAS Rope & Rail Ltd (we’ll be filling you in on what we’ve been up to in a later blog), and part of this has been the annual RISQS Audit, run by Achilles.
The Auditor visited our Head Office in Swindon for 3 days in May, and audited us on three modules; Industry Minimum
Requirements, Sentinel, and Railway and Interface Planning modules.
This included checking our Method Statements and Risk Assessments, our policies and procedures, that we are undertaking our Safe System of Work planning correctly, and overall that we are running our business to the very strict Railway Standards.
We are extremely proud to say that we have yet again achieved the maximum result of 5 Stars! This means so much to our business and demonstrates that we are undertaking our work to the highest standards, and never underestimate the importance of health and safety. We would like to thank our HSE Consultant, Ian Morris, from RAAS (UK) Ltd, for all his support in helping us achieve this accreditation once again.
There’s no doubt that keeping the railways in perfect, working order is of incredible importance. Trains keep people going to work on time, help families see each other and can be the beginning of a once in a lifetime adventure… but what’s the best way to keep on top of it? At SAS Rope and Rail, we thoroughly believe that rope access is the best way to keep on top of rail maintenance, and here’s why:
Efficiency is Key
Rope access is well regarded for its efficiency when it comes to maintenance, be it for buildings or even the railways. Though we do require possession of the tracks before we start working, which can take upwards of a few hours, once we do arrive we make sure that we start the job quickly and thoroughly. With less equipment than other techniques, once we get the approval we need we can begin to fix whatever issues await us.
We Can Help Fix it All
Due to the training undertaken at SAS Rope and Rail, we are able to solve a whole assortment of issues. We work on a variety of aspects when it comes to rail maintenance – high level cleaning, station roof repairs and railway bridge inspections are only naming a few. Whether the issue arises in a confined space, or at a location high up, we can fix it for you. After working on rail maintenance for well over a decade, you can guarantee that we’ve seen it all before – with vast experience within the industry, you can be sure that we’ll get the job done well. We make sure that we’re incredibly open with all of clients, allowing them to know exactly what is going on and when – gaining a mutual respect is of great importance to us.
A Proven Record
Huge names within the railway business are fond of using rope access – we’ve even completed projects for companies such as Network Rail using this technique. With companies such as this investing within rope access, you can be assured that they’ve got faith in rope access as a system and us as a business. Alongside this we’ve also helped in projects including the Fourth Bridge and have carried out work at whole variety of stations, including the famous Paddington Station. You definitely won’t be alone in choosing rope access as your preference in rail maintenance.
Get Your Results Safely
Rail maintenance does come with risks. When you have people working on the lines, in confined spaces or even up a height, it’s important to know that those who are out there are confident in the fact that they’re not in danger. Rope access is one of the safest techniques when it comes to this. Not only has everyone who works within this industry has been highly trained, we also make sure that our workers are taught about all potential hazards, with a Health and Safety Consultant also available for advice.
Rope access is thought of as one of the most efficient ways to complete a variety of work, ranging from building maintenance to railway bridge inspections. However, due to it being a highly skilled trade and containing potential hazards, it’s necessary that we implement certain techniques throughout – this aids us in making sure that the work is completed in a safe manner, as well as all tasks being completed to the highest possible standard. Here are five of the main techniques that we use when carrying out rope access work:
- Always Making Sure That Your Harness is Attached at Two Points
This is used for two main reasons: safety and precision. If you remain attached at two points then the likelihood of danger is dramatically reduced and you’re able to move in a more direct manner. At SAS Rope and Rail, safety is incredibly important to us – our workers are integral to our company.
- Fall Arrest
This technique is only used when necessary. It is required when there will be some degree of free falling – fall arrest makes sure that this is kept to a minimum. This is usually done by keeping a check on the safety equipment that one of our workers is using, such as making sure their helmet is worn at all times and keeping the harness attached at certain points. This will mean that they’ll remain vertical.
- Ascending and Descending the Rope
Ascending and descending the rope are necessary skills for anyone wanting to work within the rope access business, though the techniques for doing so are often updated. Learning how to ascend the rope is taught early on within training and, just as Newton said, what goes up must go down. Learning both techniques are of immeasurable importance within the industry.
- The Tying of Knots
For obvious reasons, this is a vital component of rope access. This is also taught early on to those wanting to work within the rope access business, having to be known to pass Level One of the IRATA Certification Scheme. There are an incredible number of different knots that our workers need to, and do, know how to complete, each aiding them to successfully complete their work on your buildings to the highest possible standard. As the trade of rope access develops, more and more different ways to tie knots are coming out – we make sure that our workers remain up to date with the newest techniques.
- Anchor Systems
This technique is not always employed but is occasionally done so, especially when it comes to working on rooftops or when there is confined space to work. Again, this technique is used mainly for safety – those working are at far less of a risk of falling when this system is in place. If someone were to fall, it would reduce the distance during a fall arrest greatly, ensuring their safety throughout the work.
When it comes to building maintenance, especially on higher floors, you are faced with two main options – that of rope access, and that of scaffolding. Both get the job done but which is the more efficient way? Here at SAS Rope and Rail, we truly believe that rope access is the way forward… and here’s why:
There are various situations in which you could recognise the potential usefulness of rope access. Those includes wanting a thorough inspection of a bridge or other structure that you suspect might have become damaged in a vital spot, noticing that some bulbs have gone out in awkward-to-reach lighting, or seeking to better promote your company through the high-level placement of a sign. However, you could still have questions, like those listed below, concerning rope access.
What is rope access?
A fantastic source of rope access-related information and resources, Rope Access USA defines rope access as “a system of working at height where access is gained to the job site using ropes and related equipment”. The site adds that rope access is “considered a safe, quick and cost-effective method for accessing difficult locations”.
Why use rope access?
It could be said that we have already started answering this question. However, why should rope access be chosen over alternative access techniques like using ladders, scaffolding or mobile elevating platforms? One major reason is that, by arranging for qualified rope access technicians to carry out the work on your behalf, there is often a significantly lower level of risk.
This is largely due to not only the technicians’ experience and know-how, but also the fewer pieces of machinery and equipment that are typically necessary for the job. Sidewalk obstruction and workplace impact can also be reduced to an easily appreciable extent. The overall result can be a project that is completed in less time, with more safety and at less expense.
What can rope access be used for?
The range of purposes to which rope access can be put is vast. They include repairing masonry, maintaining and inspecting high-level façades, repairing and maintaining sealant, and installing signs and banners. All of these methods, and many others, can be used by our own rope access technicians. You can click here to see a more comprehensive list of services that they can deliver.
Is the rope access industry regulated?
Globally, rope access is regulated by IRATA International, otherwise named the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association. On the IRATA website’s Aims & Objectives page, the organisation declares that its mission includes promoting and maintaining high standards, work quality and safety in rope access and promoting continuous enhancement in all of rope access’s aspects.
It is in your interest to ensure that, when you seek an external provider of rope access services, you look for one that employs IRATA qualified rope access technicians. Thankfully, here at SAS Rope & Rail, we have a team of such technicians. Furthermore, core personnel here regularly undertake intensive training to enhance their abilities to recognise and avert potential hazards.
These aren’t the only ways in which we have endeavoured to protect safety. We are also RISQS Approved & Registered and have picked up accreditation from SafeContractor and Constructionline. Our comprehensive safety plan and use of an independent Health and Safety Consultant can also fuel your confidence that we are truly a reliable and safety-conscious rope access contractor.
Being a rope access technician can be daunting. Just ask Simon Wroe, who sampled the experience of being one for an article on The Guardian‘s website. Wroe recalled how he remained downbeat even while in the midst of Rats – as rope access technicians have been nicknamed – rigging ropes that would theoretically ensure he remained safe in the air. However, here, we have merely started touching upon why safety is vital to the rope access industry.
Safety has to be in both reality and perception
It’s easy to look up at someone carrying out rope access work at a significant height and want to silently pray for them. However, it’s not the kind of feeling that would be shared by the Rat in that situation – as it would be crucial that they are not only safe but also confident that they are safe.
“Up there, on a high level, if you start thinking: ‘What if this and that happened?’ you can get in trouble,” one rope access technician, Marcin Ciecka, explained to Wroe. “You have to think at all times that you’re safe.” One organisation, IRATA, is especially keen to ensure such safety for real.
IRATA prioritises safety for workers in rope access
On the Aims & Objectives page of the IRATA website, this organisation, from which rope access specialists here at SAS Rope & Rail have obtained qualifications, makes its commitment to safety clear. It sets out its aims “to promote and maintain high standards, safety, work quality and working practices for the industrial rope access industry” and “to be dedicated to the protection of individuals working in rope access”.
IRATA additionally explains that its primary activities are to “promote and maintain a high standard of: industrial rope access activities in terms of safety” and “prepare submissions and provide informed opinion and advice to government departments and others on matters concerning work-at-height health, safety and training”. Such a strong drive to preserve safety is unsurprising when we look more closely at what has the potential to go wrong for rope access technicians.
Examples of unfortunate occurrences that we can avoid
On the myRisks Information section of its website, the BBC outlines various examples of “what can go wrong” for rope access specialists. For instance, poor technique or the failure of an anchor could lead to a fall from height. Alternatively, items knocked or dropped off surfaces could strike a specialist, who could also suffer a rope burn should ropes or webbing material rub against their exposed skin. The specialist could even – should rescue capabilities be lacking – become stuck at height and, as a result, develop a condition known as suspension syncope.
However, here at SAS Rope & Rail, our technicians have been trained to avert such adverse happenings. Hence, when conducting rope access services such as masonry repairs, repairing and maintaining sealant and installing and inspecting eyebolts, they can help ensure rope access safety. Click the above link to read more about those services and how they could assist you.
The definition of rope access is, on the face of it, straightforward. On its website, IRATA International describes its rope access system as “a safe method of working at height where ropes and associated equipment are used to gain access to and from the workplace, and to be supported there.” However, you would need to look much closer at rope access – such as by reading the rest of this article – to learn much more about the advantages of turning to rope access specialists.
They can reach awkward and otherwise inaccessible places
The Guardian calls many buildings’ places, angles and drops “decidedly inaccessible” – despite the original intentions for these buildings to be used by humans. The site also cites rope access specialists as “often the best answer to a question architecture sometimes forgets to ask: how will this be maintained?” It hasn’t been unheard-of for an organisation to, for instance, spend millions of pounds on lights without providing a way for them to be accessed if the bulbs go.
However, rope access specialists can be useful in many different settings
We hope that we haven’t painted rope access technicians as catering for strictly a niche need. Rats, to use one nickname for them, can work in various places. This certainly applies to members of IRATA, an organisation with which Rats here at SAS Rope & Rail have become qualified. IRATA lists various places where these members can, today, be seen working – including “the world’s great iconic buildings, both old and new, as well as your local city centre or industrial complex”.
These specialists can work without impacting the public in the process
While you might have occasionally seen Rats pinned to towering buildings as you have gone about one routine or another, a lot of the time, rope access technicians really are both out of sight and out of mind. Adam Garre, who left a job as a tradesman to work in rope access, told The Guardian of the experience when “the world is going by and no one knows you’re there.”
The environment also won’t be adversely affected
Rope access specialists know how to work in a manner that minimises negative effects on the surrounding area. IRATA explains that, with rope access techniques, the main objective is to “plan, manage and carry out the work with minimal accidents, incidents or dangerous occurrences”. There should be “no damage to property or harm to the environment”, IRATA adds.
Our rope access specialists are IRATA qualified
This really isn’t to be overlooked. This is largely because being IRATA qualified means that our rope access technicians buy into IRATA’s philosophy of effectiveness that minimally impacts other operations or the area close to where the Rats are working. You can click here for a detailed rundown of rope access services that our rope access technicians can provide. Those services include, but are certainly not limited to, repairing masonry, installing banners and signage and painting. You can learn more by phoning us on 01793 644 908.