Rope Access as an employment category, vocation or industry grouping is a modern phenomenon.
Prior to the late 1980’s rope access was described solely as abseiling and was generally regarded as a recreational activity.
In the early 1990’s things changed dramatically as the work environment evolved. The oil and gas industry had a particular need for trained work positioning professionals hence the advent of Irata International.
The graph at right which shows the number of certified Irata member companies demonstrates the spectacular growth of the major international trade association. In the last 30 years Irata International has trained more than 150,000 technicians.
In Australia the growth mirrored the international trends. In the same period the numbers have increased from 1 to over 40 Irata member companies employing over 1,500 trained technicians which represents approximately 20% of the sector.
However, 80% of the Australian rope access companies and rope access technicians are operating outside of the Irata system.
Given that rope access is not an Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABS, recognized employment category then who are Rope Access Technicians and what do they do? There is very little statistical information available other than the records maintained by Irata companies which tend to deal with training numbers, employment levels and safety.