Simfield Access Solutions

A Brief History of Rope Access

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Rope access in the modern age is simply a means of working at height that not only lowers the logistical cost, but minimises the risk of injury to both the workers and pedestrians at ground level. Rope Access companies in today’s age put safety first, but it wasn’t always that way. In the past, working at height was done only by those who had the stomach to stand it, and it was a job that drew equal parts awe and terror.

Working at height as a concept has been around for as long as there have been tall buildings. Whilst some people orchestrate wild theories on how the pyramids were built, we know it was rope access’ early progenitor. Before people could offer rope access services, they had to do it all without the rope, meaning your lifespan as a rigger would be measured entirely on your balance! After advancements in mountaineering became more common, the link was made between new tools created for rock-climbing adventurers, and high access requirements for construction and maintenance.

The result was rope access companies being able to offer themselves out with the unique ability to climb the sides of buildings and work there, suspended with everything they need, at a greatly lowered risk of falling. Without the need for a background in rock climbing,  more and more workmen could train to work at height, with high access jobs becoming more and more accessible as the technology advanced. Eventually this lead to the foundation of IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association), created by the top rope access companies to help tackle rope access offshore such as oil rig maintenance. Over time, IRATA became known as a governing body, an authority in rope access who offer training and qualifications to high access workers, these qualifications which are now make-or-break for a rope-dangling technician.

Simfield prides itself on it’s IRATA qualified team, as those qualifications are hard proof of commitment to learning, safe practices and efficiency. Long gone are the days of people taking their lives (and the lives of anyone beneath them) into their own hands. With an IRATA certified technician, you are assured that no matter how difficult the request, it is always carried out safely. If you need help at height, you’ve found the right place. Get in touch below, and let us know how we can access your needs.

Working at Height FAQ

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What does working at height mean?

To be working at height, a person must be operating in circumstances where a dangerous, if not fatal fall could occur from a lack of fall prevention equipment. This term can be used on any number of situations, provided the above criteria is met. Whether you are working on a fragile roof, on the top step of a ladder or working around a manhole, you are considered to be ‘working at height’.

What are the responsibilities of a worker ‘at height’?

When working at height, employees have a duty to take care of not only themselves, but their workmates and any pedestrians that may come into near-proximity to their work. High access workers operate in teams of two, ensuring there is always someone nearby should any problem arise. Employees also have a legal obligation to report any health and safety hazards that are encountered during work.

When skills do you need to be able to work at height?

The level of skill required to work at height, varies greatly based on the height as well as the means of access. If rope access work were to be carried out, the worker would be required to have an IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) level that acknowledges them as being able to carry out the work. On the other side of the scale, climbing a ladder requires only a brief demonstration of the proper methods of climbing and descending the ladder.

What factors do you need to take into account when undertaking work at height?

When working at height, the weather is your biggest enemy. High winds create for highly perilous conditions when working at any height, as a ladder can be blown over just as easily as an abseiling worker can be thrown around when dangling several metres up. When high winds or otherwise bad weather conditions are present, a contractor must seriously consider if the work should be halted for health and safety concerns.

Although high access companies pride themselves on safety, the sad truth is that sometimes things can go wrong, and a worker may get stuck or stranded. It’s for these situations that a rescue plan must be made bespokely for each job.

Finally, when working at height you must consider the safety of those at ground level. All hand and power tools, fittings and any other equipment taken for high access jobs must be securely attached to the worker’s harness to ensure nothing is dropped. Furthermore, debris from the work carried out must be considered so that an exclusion zone beneath the area of work or safety netting can be established.


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ETFE (Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene) is an old invention that has returned to take the construction industry by storm. Originally created for insulation purposes, ETFE’s real worth came in the 80’s when the qualities of this strong, see through plastic were properly analysed.

  • Incredibly strong and tear resistant.
  • Transparent, capable of letting through 95% of light.
  • Lightweight, requires less structural support.
  • Resistant to corrosion, extending service life.
  • Self-cleaning with it’s non-stick surface.
  • Recyclable.

These qualities make ETFE an incredibly attractive mainstream building tool, as it can replace a number of other building materials and aspects of construction. ETFE panels can be made by stretching single sheets of the plastic, which can be used for roofs and skylights due to it’s high light transmission and durable nature. Glass panes can be replaced with ETFE panels due to their high transparency whilst also being capable of printing on, which allows for an endless choice of patterns, colours and design choices for a building. ETFE cushions can be formed by using multiple layers of ETFE foil with pockets of air between them created by inflation units, allowing for effective insulation solutions.

Due to it’s non-stick surface, ETFE is self-cleaning and therefore requires no cleaning. When coupled with its high resistance to corrosion, tearing resistance and long service life, the need for maintenance in general is considerably cut. Glass on the other hand has only the added 5% transparency over its rival in ETFE. Other than that, it is:

Heavy – Increasing the weight on the overall building and adding more demand on your structural support.
Expensive – Costly materials requiring specialist installers adds up.
Maintenance dependant – Glass must be cleaned constantly for visual appeal. Often when it is damaged will require entire new panes to be put in place.

The fact that ETFE can solve these problems whilst remaining cheap, recyclable and long lasting, is why industry experts are touting it as the ‘miracle material’. If you want to learn more about how ETFE installation can help you, leave us your details below and we can arrange an expert to get in touch on how to move your construction and maintenance plans forward.

Cladding / Curtain Wall Installation

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Need Cladding or Curtain Wall installation to provide a layer of defence against the elements?

If you are having problems defending your structure from the elements and need an experienced and qualified team to install, maintain or inspect your cladding or curtain walls Simfield Access Solutions can help. We will create you a bespoke solution to your problems and execute our effective plan to meet your exact needs with ease.

At Simfield Access Solutions, we install, inspect, maintain and repair cladding and curtain walls. They form a protective layer of defence from natural forces such as heavy Rain, extreme Wind, corrosion, and UV rays. Every structure will face these challenges and if not installed or maintained every few years, could cause detrimental effects to your structure and cause long term damage which could be irreversible if not properly managed.

The team have the knowledge and skills to provide you with any installation, repair or maintenance requests you require at ease. Cladding provides insulation, protection, and will save you money on maintenance and energy. Through the teams, rope access expertise, height or difficult locations will not stop the team from carrying your requests.

Cladding when poorly maintained can cause long-term issues, at Simfield Access Solutions we provide an aesthetically pleasing solution which also acts as the structures the first layer of defence against the forces of nature. Prevention is always better than a cure so make haste before it is too late!

Call us now for a personally tailored and cost effective cladding service, a specialist team member will take care of your every need. If you fancy, drop by to our head office and discuss your requirements directly at Unit 1 Mangham Way, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S61 4RL.

  • Cladding Installation
  • Inspection
  • Cladding Repair
  • Cladding Maintenance.

How to Tie the Alpine Butterfly

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The Alpine Butterfly

The Alpine butterfly is a very popular knot which is known by many names including; the lineman’s loop, the lineman’s rider and the butterfly knot. It is primarily used for segregating damage from specific sections of rope and for the intent of mid rope belay. The Alpine butterfly is used to form a secure loop in the middle of the rope which can be hooked on by rope access technicians. They use it when they have no access to either end of the rope because it can be tied without access to any ends of the rope and is very easy to untie.

First, form a bight in the middle of the rope, then twist and create it into two loops and make the one on the top larger than the other.  Secondly, grab the top loop and drag it down over the lower loop and fold it where both loops meet so the bottom loop is inside the first loop. Finally, reach to the edge of the lower loop (the larger loop) and bring it through the second loop and make sure you tighten it securely.

Simplified instructions:

  1. Form a bight in the middle of the rope
  2. Create two loops (top one larger than bottom) by twisting the bite twice
  3. Bring the loop down and over the lower loop
  4. Fold it at the crossover between both ropes so that the bottom loop is practically inside
  5. Take the larger loop and bring it through the second loop
  6. Tighten securely

Want some advice or want to know more about our services?

If you need some work doing at height and want some advice or are interested in our services regarding rope access, fall protection, ETFE and tensile fabric or need any maintenance, installation or inspection requests please get in touch. We are happy to help and you can contact us by phone or email or if you want to drop by our head office located at Unit 1 Mangham Way, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S61 4RL. Contact us today and one of our skilled and friendly team will come to your assistance and find a solution to your problems.

What is Rope Access, and how can it benefit yourself?


What is Rope Access, and how can it benefit you from using it?

If you are not already aware, rope access is a technique which is still not widely known and is not used everywhere. This is mainly because people do not truly understand the advantages it has over conventional methods of access. Most businesses require inspections, maintenance and surveying done on a regular basis to ensure the safety and long stability of their structures, and is why we want to remove the confusion and lay down the basics so you can make your own decision on whether rope access is well suited for you and your business and be your new route to access in the future.

What is it?

In its simplest form, rope access is a technique which helps gain access to difficult to reach locations without the need of expensive and sometimes time-consuming alternatives like scaffolding and cradle systems. It does not only provide the essential access but also allows for a diverse range of specialist work to be undertaken on the structure, usually only possible through conventional means. The average day for a rope access technician entails ascending, descending and traversing with ropes, each attached to equipment essential for completing the job.

Is it safe?

When it comes to safety, rope access is one of the safest methods to use. It has complex safety procedures which aim to minimalize the risks of damage and danger to the team, as well as ensuring the safety of people below. To ensure this is the case, there are always at least two technicians on the job at the same time to ensure if one is in trouble there is always someone else there to respond to the incident. Each specialist is attached by at least two independent points, with separate anchors to maximise security in case one fails in an unlikely situation. Furthermore, all ropes and equipment are regularly inspected and maintained as well as being the specialist and high-quality equipment. Also because every tool is attached via a lanyard, it removes the risks of it potentially dropping and causing damage or create a danger to people below.  If that wasn’t enough to convince you the safety of rope access, each technician is regularly trained and individually assessed by IRATA ensuring all technicians meet industry standards.

Where can it be used?

When it comes to versatility rope access is a brilliant method to carry out tasks in a wide range of difficult to reach locations ranging from railways, industrial plants, high rise structures, dams and wind turbines. No matter what project you are doing, and how difficult the access is, chances are rope access will be the solution for you as its potential uses are inexhaustive.

What can It be used for?

The main uses for rope access are to provide specialist at height services like inspections, maintenance, installations and surveying and can provide an array of services such as; painting, coating, glazing, window cleaning, and endless other potential uses.

How can it benefit you?

Now I bet you are now wondering, how can rope access benefit you? Well its simple, understand its benefits and decide for yourself. Firstly, it is by far the quickest and most reliable way of gaining access because it does not require any static infrastructure like scaffolding, which usually takes weeks if not months to set up. Also, rope access is far more cost efficient meaning it is the cheapest way to gain access and requires far less manpower than other means. It is also a sustainable solution with far less noise pollution ensuring your business can be open as usual. So… if you like to save money, get the job done quicker as well as keeping your customers and staff happy and doing your little bit for the planet, then rope access may just be the solution for you.

If you have any queries or think rope access may be a good fit to solve your problems do not hesitate to contact us, we are more than happy to help in any way possible.