Rope Access Fall Arrest System

Rope access technicians are becoming a popular alternative to traditional height access and height risk work, often providing safer, more thorough and more cost-effective services for a range of trade solutions. And Rope Access Fall Arrest System is required by law to be certified every year. All equipment needs to be inspected every 3 months as well as before you make a drop.

Some of the diverse range of services commonly offered by rope access technicians include, but are not limited to:

    • Height Safety
    • Height access electrical
    • Painting and rendering
    • Building defect rectification
    • Height access window cleaning
    • Building facade pressure cleaning
    • Building Maintenance
    • Rope access confined space work
    • Standby rescue services
    • Window Cleaning
    • Caulking & Sealing
    • Walkway & Handrail installation and much more

A rope access technician is trained in the skill of abseiling, which uses rope, harness and anchor point systems to ascend or descend sheer faces such as a cliff, high structure or high-rise building.

Abseiling rigs 101

To the untrained eye, an abseiler’s rig may seem to have a lot going on; however, all components make up one complete rope access fall arrest system of safety and function.

Abseiling uses rope systems and a harness with a series of clips, locks and friction devices that allow the abseiler, also known as a rappeller, to control the speed of their descent and secure the abseiler’s position while they ascend.

While the rope system attached to the abseiling system may look complicated, there are actually only two ropes; one as the main climbing rope and one as a safety system that acts as a fall arrest if the main rope fails or something else goes wrong that results in a fall situation.

The fall arrest rope is part of a three-part network called a fall arrest system, or PFAS (personal fall arrest system), and is an essential occupational safety feature required by a rope access technician.

The anatomy of a ope access fall arrest system

A fall arrest system is a non-negotiable safety feature of a rope access technician’s abseiling rig and consists of three main components:

  • An anchor point
  • The harness
  • A connecting device

While all components of a PFAS are vital, the anchor point is the most important, as it is the point of connectivity with the height risk structure.

Anchor points

There are various types of anchor points that are used on a height risk structure, including:

  • Concrete eyelets
  • Roof mounts
  • Mobile anchor points
  • Tripod portable systems
  • Slings and more

Every anchor point has a weight limit, and the rope access technician must calculate their overall weight load, including tools and equipment.

The anchor point of the system can be the same as the main rope or separate, although each rope will be connected to the anchor point independently.

Most height risk structures, like a building or electrical tower, for example, will have a fixed anchor point with a weight limit pre-installed. However, a qualified abseiler will be trained to identify and create a reliable anchor point using a portable system or a device like a sling if an anchor point is not pre-installed.


The type of harness used by a rope access technician is often an individual preference; however, there are industry standards that professional rope access technicians must meet.

There are different types of harness configurations depending on the manufacturer’s design, and some harnesses may be more suitable for various rope access applications.

What harnesses will have in common is that they will wrap around the waist, legs, groin, and sometimes, up across the back and shoulders, providing complete support to the technician’s body.

Connecting device

Various types of connecting devices are used in a PFAS, and different technicians and industries will have preferences for various reasons.

Some common types of connecting devices used by rope access technicians include:

  • Standard rope, cable and web lanyards
  • Double legged lanyards
  • Shock-absorbing pack and in-line lanyards
  • Self-retracting lifelines
  • Rope grabs and more

The type of connecting device used by a rope access technician will be selected based on the kind of work performed, the height of work being performed, and the weight-load of the technician’s body, rig, tools and other equipment.

How does a fall arrest system work?

A PFAS works on a belay system that functions independent of the work positioning system and is connected to a fall arrest attachment point on the rope access technician’s harness.

Things to take into consideration with a PFAS include:

  • Weight loads
  • Locations
  • Reactions
  • Size and weight of equipment and more

The fall arrest system does not prevent a free fall but arrests the fall of the technician, limiting the impact force of the falling rappeller.

While fall arrest systems have been rigorously tried and tested and are very effective, like all abseiling equipment, they need regular inspection and maintenance to ensure they are compliant and reliable.

The importance of fall arrest maintenance

An abseiling fall arrest system is not a set and forget system and requires regular maintenance and inspection every time it is used. Statistics show that rope access technicians have an exemplary safety record, especially when compared to traditional height access methods and apparatus.

However, if a rope access fall arrest system is not maintained and reliable, the resulting fall can be life-changing and often fatal for the abseiling technician. There are different approaches and technologies used for fall arrest in abseiling, and each will have its points of inspection and testing to address.

It is critical that all abseiling professionals learn their rope access systems back to front and put sufficient time into learning and reviewing new equipment and protocols when a change to their standard rig is made.

The main points to check for during PFAS inspection and maintenance include:

  • Conditions and weight loads of anchor points
  • The state of the ropes
  • Harness stitching and fastening points
  • Specifications and hours of use on self-retracting lifelines
  • Condition of connectors like carabiners, belays and paw rigs
  • The state of shock absorption lines and more

Australian standards pertaining to PFAS fall under section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act (the WHS Act).

The best rope access service Sydney wide

Abseilers United has been providing industry-leading rope access service Sydney-wide since 2007. We offer a wide range of rope access services, including:

  • Trades
  • Cleaning and maintenance services
  • Rope access training
  • Height safety training and equipment and more

To learn more about our wide range of rope access services, contact us at (02) 9976 6768, or send your inquiry via email to, and one of our representatives will respond as soon as possible.