• Published: 29 Jul 2011
  • Incident ID: 3374

Catastrophic failure of ropes rigged over an edge

Cause & Consequence

  • Fall from height
Incident Consequence

Incident Location

Onshore office, support base, heliport

Incident Activity

Land transport

Incident Info Source


Specific Incident Equipment

Working at height equipment likely to come into contact with edges of structures and equipment.

Lessons Identified

2.4 DeviationsIf the anchors and their anchor points are not in a suitable location for rigging the anchor lines directlyabove the planned position for descent and/or ascent, anchor lines may be deviated using a sideanchor to prevent contact with the edge. It is vital to assess what the effect of deviation failure (storedenergy) would have if anchor lines should contact any edge as a result of that failure. Considerationshould be given to using a number of side anchors to ensure the position of the anchor lines ismaintained during the entire rope access operation.3 Edge protection3.1 GeneralWhere it is not possible to use any of the methods described in clause 2 and, where the riskassessment identifies that there is ANY possibility of anchor lines coming into contact with an edge,the edge should be covered with suitable protective material. The following gives some examples ofways in which anchor lines can be protected against edges.4.2 Protective edge roller or plateAn edge roller or plate is an option for protecting the anchor lines from cutting (or abrading) on anedge. It is usually placed over the edge and secured to the structure and the anchor lines are run overthe bearing wheel or plate. As an alternative, 50 mm diameter scaffold tubes positioned to protectfrom any edges may provide adequate protection.4.3 Protective edge mattingThis method utilizes a mat or other thick, tough material, which is placed over the edge and securedto the structure.4.4 Double-layer canvas rope protectorA double-layer rope protector only provides limited protection to the anchor lines from edges whenanchor line movement is perpendicular to the edge. When anchor line movement is transverse alongan edge, the protection afforded by a canvas rope protector can be negligible, and catastrophic failurecan occur in a very short period of time to the main working line and to the safety line during anysubsequent fall, if both anchor lines are rigged over the same edge. (Link to video again).5 Further readingThe following documents provide useful information:Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Contract Research Report CRR 364/2001 Industrial Rope Access– Investigation into items of personal protective equipment.See section 5 for information on rope protectors. This document is freely downloadable from: The data collected in the above report is only valid for perpendicular movement against an edge.** Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) International code of practice (ICOP) Firstedition, January 2010 (currently under revision at July 2011)

Incident Recommendations

As per the IRATA Alert

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