Sunday, May 24, 2009

Monkeying around

I'm shopping around for some rigging and safety gear for work, because I've got a complicated, necessary repair job that requires climbing around on the outside of the Big Glass Dome. There's no way to access it from the ground, and renting a boom lift big enough to reach the top from the ground is prohibitively expensive. So I'm doing it the hard way, by climbing.

And, oddly, climbing isn't really the hard way. There's ladder access to the top, and it's easier to climb back up then rappel down to a new location, than it is to reposition a lift on the ground. And, I can reach anywhere by rope. With a lift, geometry isn't in our favor; a lift that can reach 90' straight up isn't hard to come by, but one that will reach up and over to the top of a 90' dome is a rarity. Not only that, but a boom lift will put you in a bad position to do the work -- it'll put you right above the work area, with the floor of the lift between you and your target. And a lift has blind spots. There are corners and curves where a lift won't reach.

I'm also convinced that climbing is a lot safer. With rope access work, I'm depending on a lot of analog gear, gear with a failure rate of literally zero when used correctly. I'm not dependent on complex mechanical anything; there are no motors to fail, no controls to stick. And the safety gear is absolute. For a safety-conscious, knowledgeable user, rope access is as close to foolproof as possible.

And, relatively speaking, the new gear isn't that expensive. For a complete kit -- harness, rope, ascenders, descender, helmet, fall protection, and assorted doodads -- I'm spending less than it would cost to get a permit to close down a lane of Illinois Street to position a lift for a week. The new gear is a sign that I'm taking the safety issues seriously. I already own my personal collection of good rock-climbing gear, which is adequate to do pretty much everything I would need to do. But it's not failsafe and, significantly, not OSHA-approved for rope access. So some new gear is definitely a wise choice. I'm officially too old to make wild whooping noises while speed-rappelling down buildings; I'm all about the slow and extremely safe these days.

And, I get to go shopping! For tools! Woo hoo!

1 comment:

TMR said...

Rope Access is by far the best way to do this type of job. Don't forget to upload some photos when done!