roofer foreperson with ropes

Shops Soaring for Safety

The Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) sets industry standards and awards certifications regarding rope safety. F&S roofers and sheet metal workers, which utilize ropes and access techniques to repair roofs or conduct building maintenance inspections recently learned some of these skills as part of a training course.

Patrick Wood, coordinator of special programs, Building Maintenance, and Shane Carr, roofer foreperson, led the initiative and coordinated with a Chicago-based company, Elevated Safety, to identify equipment needs and provide SPRAT level 1 technician training to five F&S members. They are now working to begin a supplemental fall protection program specifically for rope access work on campus. SPRAT training allows the chance for more types of building inspections, window washing, and rescue operations. By providing this training to its members, F&S demonstrates its organizational emphasis on safety and increases the scope of work offered on campus. There are three levels to SPRAT training, and Carr is looking forward to growing his team’s capabilities. Mumford Hall and Freer Hall were mentioned as probable sites for use of SPRAT training techniques.

Roofer above on ropes; training professionals on the ground

One particular scenario teaches how to reach someone who has been stalled on the rope–possibly because of a life-threatening health problem–and move their body and harness to the helper’s rope in order to safely bring everyone to the ground. Training teaches new skills, but Carr hopes a situation for such a rescue will not come about. It’s complicated, takes great strength, and immense confidence.

“So let me tell you: I think it is a blast,” Carr said. “I always look forward to getting on the ropes. It is a workout but it is also a lot of fun. They call me the spider monkey because I love doing it and will be the first to go up. I have been asked if I would like to volunteer on a fire rescue service because I am SPRAT level 1 certified.”

He and the other trainees spend time on the ropes, but also with one another in challenging situations, which helps them enjoy shared work experiences.

“I have always been adventurous. I have skydived, done spelunking, and worked as an arborist climbing trees,” Carr said. “I think when working ropes you feel free. You are in complete control of your life at that point. You have to learn to trust the equipment and your skill-set or you will never be comfortable enough to work the ropes.”