What is IRATA International

IRATA International is the foremost global authority on industrial rope access, setting the worldwide standard for safe working at height since its founding over 30 years ago. It has pioneered the development and implementation of effective, safe, and environmentally friendly solutions for the work-at-height industry. Today, IRATA boasts a large network of member companies operating across various sectors, including oil and gas, construction, renewable energy, geotechnical, and the built environment.

The IRATA technician certification scheme is highly regarded as the industry benchmark for rope access professionals, with over 100,000 certified technicians actively working worldwide. IRATA holds ISO 17024 accreditation from UKAS, the United Kingdom’s national accreditation body, ensuring that its certification services are recognised as international best practices.

1. Membership Criteria

All IRATA member companies undergo independent audits to gain and maintain membership, adhering to the comprehensive standards outlined in the IRATA Membership Requirements. Companies must comply with all the criteria specified in the document and agree to follow these and other IRATA governing principles.

To qualify for IRATA membership, applicant companies must, at a minimum:

  • Be a legally incorporated entity with appropriate insurance;
  • Appoint a qualified and competent Technical Authority;
  • Possess sufficient and approved equipment and equipment management systems;
  • Have documented procedures specific to their intended fields of activity.

Companies seeking membership must pass initial audits as part of the entry process. New members are audited again one year after joining to ensure they are implementing the approved processes in the workplace. Throughout their membership, companies will continue to be subject to regular audits.

2. The IRATA Membership Requirements

The IRATA Membership Requirements outline the standards that applicants and current members must meet to achieve and maintain their status as an IRATA Operator and/or Trainer member company.

These requirements provide a framework for companies to establish, demonstrate, and enhance the management of a safe rope access system of work. The standards are mandatory and form the foundation of IRATA’s membership audits.

The audit processes ensure that member companies:

  • Have the appropriate business structure and infrastructure;
  • Implement safety management systems tailored to their specific fields;
  • Employ only experienced, trained, and qualified personnel;
  • Possess adequate risk-assessed equipment and facilities;
  • Adhere to mandatory safety standards;
  • Continuously monitor, review, and revise their safety performance.

3. Independent Audit

IRATA companies undergo audits when they join, at the 12-month mark, and then at three-year intervals. These third-party audits are conducted by trained and qualified lead auditors with extensive industry experience. Additional audits may be conducted if serious incidents or accidents occur or if ongoing surveillance is needed to ensure compliance with membership requirements.

Auditors participate in continuous professional development, and their performance is monitored to guarantee that audits are conducted according to industry best practices.

    4. The IRATA Code of Practice

    Like any method of working at height, rope access should be viewed as a comprehensive system where planning, management, personnel competence, and suitable equipment are all crucial and interdependent to ensure safety. The IRATA ICOP (International Code of Practice) offers recommendations and guidance on using rope access methods to establish a safe system of work.

    The ICOP was developed through extensive consultation with health and safety professionals, industry leaders, and technical experts. IRATA International member companies and technicians are required to adhere to the principles of the ICOP and must demonstrate compliance during audits.

      5. IRATA Rope Access Technicians

      IRATA technicians are trained and assessed across three competency levels. Level 1 is the entry-level, followed by Level 2 (intermediate), and Level 3 (advanced), which represents extensive industry experience, technical skills, and responsibility. To progress between levels, technicians must log recorded industry experience in a monitored logbook system.

      Rescue skills and capabilities are required at all competency levels. This is crucial to IRATA’s safe system of work, as rope access teams often operate in remote or hard-to-reach locations and cannot always rely on third-party emergency response.

      All technicians undergo independent assessments in accordance with the IRATA Training, Assessment, and Certification Scheme (TACS). These assessments test theoretical knowledge, technical skills, safety attitude, and their application in a controlled environment at IRATA’s audited training facilities.

      Member companies regularly review technicians’ skills and knowledge through competency assessments to ensure they are familiar with the equipment, tasks, and environments they will encounter. Additionally, IRATA technicians must undergo refresher training if they have not performed rope access within six months.

        6. Technical Authority

        Every IRATA member company is required to appoint a Technical Authority. This individual must possess extensive industry experience and is responsible for ensuring the safe execution of the company’s rope access activities. Key prerequisites and responsibilities include:

        • Proven knowledge and experience in industrial rope access;
        • Previously attained an IRATA Level 3 qualification;
        • Ability to create, implement, and manage an effective rope access management system;
        • Communicating IRATA requirements to company directors, managers, supervisors, and rope access technicians;
        • Overseeing the selection and maintenance of safety equipment;
        • Continuously updating their skills to keep pace with industry best practices.

          7. Rope Access Equipment

          Safe equipment is crucial for any secure system of work. Member companies, through their Technical Authority, must demonstrate controls over the selection, procurement, traceability, inspection, and lifecycle management of equipment. Written procedures and competent personnel to conduct and record thorough inspections are mandatory for audits.

          Rope access work often occurs in challenging and harsh environments, necessitating daily pre-start inspections to ensure equipment remains in good condition and performs effectively. Documented thorough inspections are conducted every six months or sooner if conditions require.

            8. Operational Planning

            IRATA member companies must establish procedures encompassing all aspects of their rope access activities. Members are required to maintain a documented Rope Access Management System that includes specific control measures for:

            • Risk assessment
            • Personnel management, supervision, and training
            • Internal audit and document control
            • Communication with rope access personnel
            • Equipment management
            • Rescue planning
            • Information security
            • Incident management and reporting
            • Safety performance review

            Members’ work and training records are regularly audited, with quarterly submissions required for hours worked, staffing levels, incidents, and other critical tracking data. These statistics are collected by an independently appointed authority and serve as the foundation for IRATA’s annual Work and Safety Analysis (WASA) publication.

              9. Work & Safety Data Analysis

              Ensuring safety when working at height requires meticulous planning, careful application, and continuous review. IRATA’s excellent safety record is validated annually through its unique Work and Safety Analysis (WASA) report, which has been published for over 20 years. This report is based on quarterly statistics submitted by IRATA member companies, with the data compiled and analyzed by an independent senior health and safety expert.

              The final report is freely available to the public on the IRATA website and includes:

              • Employment data
              • Regional statistics
              • Work and training hours
              • Figures on incidents, accidents, and dangerous occurrences
              • Comparable industry rates
              • Summary and recommendations

              Member companies are committed to sharing information on safety and work-related incidents with their employees, IRATA, and other IRATA members. In addition to the annual WASA report, IRATA also produces Safety Bulletins, Safety Incident Reports, Topic Sheets, and other safety-related communications.

                10. Best Practice & Knowledge Sharing

                As a global leader in rope access, IRATA acknowledges the importance of collaboration, knowledge exchange, and continuous professional growth.

                Member companies are required to attend either Regional Advisory Committee meetings or IRATA gatherings annually. These gatherings convene member companies from specific regional areas to discuss the advancement of IRATA practices, industry developments, equipment updates, and other pertinent topics.

                Auditors undergo periodic retraining and professional development to stay current with evolving industry standards. They are also encouraged to contribute to the improvement of audit processes as the industry progresses.

                Similarly, assessors and instructors are expected to participate in an approved IRATA workshop each year to remain informed about the evolving technical aspects of their field.


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