It’s crucial to know how to keep your staff and the public safe. For construction work, maintenance jobs, and inspections that are taking place in hard-to-access areas, you need to consider your options if a crane will not be suitable. The two basic options are ropes or scaffolding.

While scaffolding might be the knee-jerk choice, it’s important to consider what rope access can bring to the table that scaffolding can’t. Plant towers, industrial chimneys, wind turbines, high rise curtain walls, smokestacks, and many other tall and difficult-to-access structures will prove inappropriate for conventional scaffolding.

There’s no doubt that scaffolding has its advantages but rope access is growing in mainstream popularity as more project managers realise its innate benefits – not only is it faster and safer than many other high angle options, but it can be cost-efficient and flexible.

In this article, we will identify some of the core differences and how the two options stack up against each other.


How does the speed of setting up and dismantling compare?

It’s undeniable that rope access will take far less time than scaffolding to set up. It avoids the long days of assembly and disruption to a construction site or public building that scaffolding demands to complete a job. The same goes for dismantling. Scaffolding is a considerably time-consuming choice for projects.

The process for setting up rope access is under an hour but can be as fast as just a few minutes. This eliminates long periods of downtime and ensures that your project is running smoothly and on time.

Which is the more cost-effective of the two?

The setting up of scaffolding equipment alone is costly before you even start to factor in the price of the equipment itself. This specialised equipment must be transported, erected, inspected, maintained, and then dismantled by a third party. Altogether, this can make for a very costly experience and contribute to extended periods of downtime.

Rope access, on the other hand, is far cheaper. The equipment itself is much smaller and easier to inspect to keep it in working condition. Add in the short time it takes to set up and dismantle, and rope access poses a far more cost-effective choice for height access and keeps your project running without costing you time as well.

Although scaffolding can be erected in more situations it is the cost factor that will often inhibit this from a viable option. Scaffolders are a separate contractor and do not carry out maintenance works, which results in multiple costs as opposed to Rope Access Technicians who set up the safety system and are trade qualified to carry out the works.


How safe are they both?

While scaffolding is, of course, one of the safest options for height access, rope access is actually proven to be safer.

This is because all rope access technicians are rigged to two separate ropes: one is the mainline and the other is a back-up should the first fail.

Rope access technicians are a specialised trade with strong safety procedures and rigorous height-access training. Using rope access reduces the possibility of falls that tend to occur when working with scaffolding as workers are securely attached to the two-rope precautionary system.


What flexibility do the two options offer?

Few buildings are ever straight up and straight down. However, scaffolding is designed for structures exactly like this and tends to struggle or pose an issue around alternative designs.

This is where rope access proves most successful. It allows technicians to reach those hard-to-access spots where scaffolding would struggle and reduces disruption of the building’s use.

What are the aesthetics of both scaffolding and rope access?

Far from the ghastly eye-sore of scaffolding, rope access is easily the more aesthetic option of the two height access routes. Not only will it be far more subtle than scaffolding, but it removes the need for businesses still operating below to include desperate We’re still open! signs, keeping your relations with local businesses happy and healthy.

Fidato is formed from a team of specialists in rope access but will always factor in alternative options of height access for each case project to ensure that the most suitable choice is made. Rope access will depend on location, budget, time constraints, building, the type of work required, the degree of difficulty, and the availability of supervisors and trained professional team members.

For more information about rope access options for your project, get in touch with Fidato today to speak to one of our dedicated customer service team members.


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