OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 41 Work Requiring Rope Access


“Rope access” work involves rope-based techniques for gaining access to, or working at, work locations that are difficult or impossible to access by other means. For the purposes of the OHS Code, occupational rope access work is divided into two categories:

Industrial rope access work

As a method of working at height, industrial rope access techniques can be used as an alternative to scaffolds, man lifts, and elevated work platforms. The techniques are best used for light to medium tasks such as

  • inspection and testing – surveys, non-destructive testing,
  • maintenance and repair – sealant installation, replacing cladding and glazing,
  • cleaning and painting – jet spray, spray/roller/brush painting, and
  • geotechnical work – surveying, rockfall prevention.

Industrial rope access systems are quick to assemble and disassemble, and require a small number of workers for a relatively brief period of time. Thus, the number of “man-risk” hours is kept to a minimum.

There is a small but growing industry in Alberta providing industrial rope access services. However, the traditional fall protection requirements of Part 9 of the OHS Code have limited or restricted the ability of workers in this industry to use the full range of rope access techniques and equipment used elsewhere in the world. Part 41 addresses the needs of this industry.

Non-industrial rope access work

Non-industrial rope access work includes the work activities of mountain guides, professionally certified mountain guides (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides – ACMG), guides involved in caving, workers involved in delivering outdoor education courses in rock and ice climbing and glacier travel, and workers who work at sport climbing walls and gyms.

The equipment and techniques these workers use, and their dependence on primarily natural terrain features for their safety, makes compliance with the fall protection requirements of Part 9 of the OHS Code impossible or dangerous. Part 41 addresses the needs of this industry.