SPRAT’s Changes to Rope Access Certification Requirements

As you may know, SPRAT has changed the Rope Access Certification Requirements (CR) document, with an effective date of April 2024. This article will explain these changes and help Candidates, Hosts and Trainers through the transition.

I’ll start with the Performance Principles. Candidates at each level currently must demonstrate an understanding of Roles and Responsibilities, Equipment Use and Inspection, and Job Safety. These have been restructured to a simple expectation to adhere to the Performance Principles outlined in Section 4. SPRAT’s rationale behind this change is rooted in the belief that these elements are knowledge-based and are addressed through the written test. It is also thought that a performance based evaluation is better suited to the adherence of the Performance Principles.

Our training will not change regarding these three important elements. They are part of the written test and belong in our curriculum.

SPRAT also acknowledge the idea that a Candidate who is using a fall arrest system, including a backup system, when the available clearance is less that required should not be negatively graded. In other words, clearance requirements usually cannot be accommodated when a Candidate begins or ends an exercise near a platform or lower level and, therefore, should not be penalized. The Candidate should apply all other Performance Principles accordingly.

Level 1 Requirements

The language for most of the elements required at a Level 1 certification have been simplified or consolidated. The use of Backup Devices, Descenders, Ascenders and Change Overs have been consolidated into Fundamental Maneuvers. This change is appropriate as these are evaluated during the entire Session and don’t necessarily receive individual check marks as completed.

Edge Negotiation and Rope and Sling Protection are consolidated into one element, Edge Negotiation with Rope Protection, as they are mostly graded at the same time during the exercise. It is important to note the interior angle at the edge obstruction is limited to less than 120 degrees. Sorry, no more vertical edge negotiations.

Deviations, Knot Passing, Rope-To-Rope Transfers, Re-anchor, and Aid Climbing has been simplified in language, removing much of the language describing differences in set up and use.

The language of the Knots have been updated to clarify the intended use rather than the type of knot expected to be tied. The awareness of the knots’ application, strength and limitations has been removed, seemingly to be addressed through the written test.

The requirements for Anchorage Systems have been simplified to construction of a two-rope system. The Candidate shall construct the anchorage system for each rope system using either a) A single anchorage; or b) two anchorages or anchorage connectors located less than 1m (3.3 feet) apart.

The language for the Raising and Lowering element has been simplified and now includes a requirement for distance raised and lowered.

The Level 1 Rescue Exercise language has been updated to include a specific requirement for the Candidate to transition themselves or the individual to the same rope system. The name has also been changed to Rescue: Adjacent Rope Set, Ascent to Descent Transition.

Level 2 Requirements

Similar to Level 1 Candidate requirements, the Level 2 Requirements have undergone a simplification of language with some substantive changes.

The language for System Analysis has been simplified. An important difference is in the wording.

The updated wording reads “Candidates shall demonstrate the ability to estimate potential forces and clearance requirements within rope access systems used during the completion of requirements.”

The current requirements state the Candidate should understand the forces involved in rigging rope access systems, including concepts such as angle physics and dynamic loading.

Vertical Aid Climbing language has been simplified to distance only. SPRAT does not prescribe the maximum distance the anchors should be spaced.

The Load Sharing Anchorage System has been changed to a more practical element. Two-Rope System for Edge Negotiation will require Candidates to construct a two-rope system used for edge negotiation using anchorages located between 1 and 4 meters apart. It should be noted that Evaluators now have a great opportunity to observe Candidates constructing the system near an edge, which most likely will require the Candidate to demonstrate the proper use of other appropriate fall protection while in the fall zone.

The language for Retrievable Rope Systems has been updated and explicitly states the use of the system. The name of the exercise has change, too. The new name is Retrievable Two-Rope System.

The Pitch Head Break In and Lower has been restructured into two separate exercises.

The first, Raising and Lowering: Suspended Candidate, requires Candidates to raise and lower an individual or load at least 3 m while suspended by a rope access system.

The second exercise, Raising and Lowering: Suspended Load, requires a Candidate to lower an individual or load suspended by a two rope system constructed with fixed anchorage systems to the next lower level (suspended at least 1 m above the next lower level). The Candidate shall be located by the anchorage systems.

The language of the Cross-haul has been updated, including the exercise name. The Lateral Operations: Cross-Haulexercise requires using multiple raising and lowering systems to move an individual or load laterally from one designated location to another.

In similar fashion, the Rigging and Operating a Rope Access System Pre-rigged to Lower exercise has updated language and a new title, Remote Rescue System.

Pick-off Rescue of Casualty Through Knots and Rescue From Horizontal Aid Climbing have been removed from the CR for Level 2.

Rescue: Same Rope Set, Rope-To-Rope Transfer has been added, essentially bringing back the old Pick-off from Ascent rescue and combining it with a Rope-To-Rope Transfer.

Also added is a Rescue: From Fall Arrest System. This exercise requires the Candidate to demonstrate rescuing an individual that is suspended from energy absorbing lanyards while being suspended on a two rope system.

Lastly, the requirements to demonstrate knots and hitches have been removed from Level 2 requirements. SPRAT acknowledges these are important skills and can be used throughout the Evaluation, but they will not be prioritized in the evaluation process.

Level 3 Requirements

Much of the current requirements have either updated language or have changed altogether. Notably, the Team Scenario and Management and Communication elements have been eliminated and the rescue requirements have been changed.

SPRAT considers current Management and Communication requirements to be beyond the means of the Evaluation process and should be addressed by the employer to determine the suitability of a rope access technician’s skills to supervise rope access work.

SPRAT also expects the problem solving aspect of the Team Scenario to be addressed through system construction and operation and rescue requirements.

As with Level 2 Requirements, the language for System Analysis has been simplified. An important difference is in the wording.

The updated wording reads “Candidates shall demonstrate the ability to estimate potential forces and clearance requirements within rope access systems used during the completion of requirements.”

The current requirements state the Candidate should understand the forces involved in rigging rope access systems, including concepts such as angle physics and dynamic loading.

The requirement for constructing a Two-Rope System for Deviation or Re-anchor is new. Candidates shall be required to construct either of these systems to adjust the fall line of a two-rope system and negotiate or perform a rescue from the two-rope system.

Hauling and Lowering Through Knots has simplified language. It also has a new name; Raising and Lowering: Knot Pass.

Similarly, Tensioned Rope Systems have updated language and a new name; Lateral Operations: Tensioned Rope System.

Finally, Level 3 Rescue requirements have been simplified to include two rescues from any of the following maneuvers:

  • Knot Pass
  • Deviation
  • Rope-To-Rope Transfer
  • Re-anchor
  • Aid Climbing

What’s Next?

SPRAT is busy working on revisions to the Rope Access Evaluations Requirements as we speak. I would assume the Evaluations Committee will release the document in the coming months, certainly before the Rope Access Certification Requirements are in effect. I’ll make sure to push something out as soon as it’s available.


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