Rope Access/RDS


Professional Rope Access (PRA) and Rope Descent System (RDS) are probably the oldest height access methods. Developed by professional climbers, RA allows professionals to quickly and safely reach even the most difficult areas of any structure or building façade. Generally, a two-rope system is employed: a work line supports the worker and the safety line provides back-up fall protection.


By using professional equipment and a system of ropes and harnesses, professional certified rope access specialists are able to get to hard-to-reach areas. It allows for work at heights and in confined spaces to be completed quickly, safely and cost-effectively.

As rope access requires less equipment – the set-up time and cost is brought to a minimum, reducing costs and allowing ongoing operations to continue during work.

Professional Rope Access is a highly skilled occupation with safety being of paramount importance. Certification is done in few different skill levels and each level requires hundreds of hours of training and experience under supervision. For comparison, to obtain a Competent Person Certificate (CP Certificate) and be allowed to work on suspended scaffold takes only a 16 hours class (2 days), of which practice takes less than 1 hour! BMU use doesnt even require CP Certificate only few hours unit familiarization!

Download NYS Labor Regulations


RDS is by far the most preferred access method of vast majority of window cleaners in the USA. It has all of the same safety factors as suspended scaffold if used in proper weather conditions (no wind). There are no legal restrictions for use of this method for any window cleaning operations at heights up to 300 anywhere in the USA, with an exception of NY and California. In NY, the use of RDS is allowed only on elevations up to 75 (strangely enough restriction applies for window cleaning work only and if you are painting the same facade wall from RDS – it’s perfectly legal!)

The rule is dated October 1, 1967. It’s 21st century outside and safety equipment for rope access is made with the use of aerospace technologies, yet the rule from 1967 was never revised nor updated.

See more details here.

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