Dear Madam and/or Sir,

I hereby send you this guideline to help you to disinfect your equipment in the most feasible way.

Many of us are effected by the COVID-19 pandemic and hope to resume business as usual. Therefore, we currently abide by regulations set forth by the Canadian government regarding the operation of our business at this time. Furthermore, our operation guidelines are reinforced by current results produced by the scientific and academic community. Thus, the information outlined in this document and our operating procedures are adapting as we learn more about the disease and we encourage you do the same.

To further ensure we are doing our part in helping stop the spread of COVID-19, we looked into reviewing our own procedure of cleaning equipment and what is in the manual is so far. We understand that washing equipment is not a feasible approach for a commercial setting, such as in an adventure park or training organsiation, and aim to provide a plausible alternative.

In order to understand what we are dealing with in regards to the virus and how long it is remains active on surfaces we did our research and found that Harvard Health Publishing has a good explanation, which is as follows:

How long can the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

This recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Researchers also found that this virus can remain as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall, although they will often fall more quickly.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot we still don’t know, such as how different conditions, exposure to sunlight, heat, or cold can affect these survival times.

As we learn more, be sure to continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects every day. These include: counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

If surfaces are dirty, first clean them using a detergent and water before disinfecting them.

A list of products suitable for use against COVID-19 is available here. This list has been pre-approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use during the COVID-19 outbreak. [Click here to view the list.]

In addition, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water after bringing in packages or after trips to the grocery store as well as other places where you may have come into contact with infected surfaces.

Harvard Medical School

Reading this portion it is clear that cross contamination is possible if the equipment gets compromised and used by the next person within a few days in the worse scenario.

Also is important to understand that using some of these cleaning product suggested are not suitable for our PPE.

Therefore, we hypothesized if the most reasonable solution would be the use of an UVC light (germicidal lamp). From our research we learned that Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is a very common treatment within water plants and currently suggested for cleaning facemasks so they can be reused.

Looking at UVC light and reading the article from Elsevier on behalf of the AAD [click here to view the article], we determined that it requires 1 J/cm2 (J = joule) of exposure to eliminate viruses and bactaria. In our case this means we don’t need a lot of exposure or energy. Which is a good thing as we don’t recommend equipment to be over exposed to UV as we do know that long term UV (sun light) exposure does harm textile products.

However as our webbing is treated against UV radiation we don’t see a problem of using UVC as a solution for disinfecting your equipment as it is fast, clean, and it eliminates the potential exposure to COVID-19 by those who are washing the equipment. We have confirmed this with our webbing supplier.

We therefore say that an UVC light can be used and we recommend to setup an area in where you can hang your equipment and remotely “zap” the equipment for a few seconds before turning the gear around and doing it again. Of course the distance vs the strength of your light will be important to take into consideration.

UVC is harmful to the skin and eyes so read the manual that comes with the light and be careful!

As I am writing this we are in process of buying an UVC light ourselves and will take extra steps to over expose webbing to this method and, after a variety of intervals, perform pull tests to see what influence the different timelines of exposure will have on our webbing.

Of course nothing is 100% as this is a new virus and exposing products is tricky due to the distance, shadows, etc.

We therefore suggest to read the attached documents for more details, study other articles you can find, listen to your local legislators, and share any findings you make so we can come to a collective solution that is going to be acceptable for the general public.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me.

Take care,

Igor Stomp, President
Igor (at) eyolf.email

In the “rope access industry” we often get the same questions from newcomers, such as “How can I get into this exciting industry?” or “Where do I get training and what kind of training do I need?”.

A long time ago, I asked a good friend of mine to help someone out who was new to our industry and he pointed out the following:

  1. You have to be able to move around the country, or go offshore at short notice.
  2. You have to be able to deal with work instability at the start, until you are established on the rope access scene.
  3. The work you are doing is contract work, is fairly physical, and can at times be boring. As well, some clients can be difficult to work with.
  4. The more qualifications you get, the more possibilities of work become available. Also think about rigging, offshore survival, medicals, first aid and various NDT qualifications. It is expensive but it is important to get as many qualifications as possible. Some companies will (partly) cover costs for qualifications needed for the job, and your training time.
  5. If you jump between companies a lot then you get a reputation for being unreliable and only looking for the highest wages and you get into the “hire and fire” system which is not good long term.
  6. A 2-year contract may turn into a 2-month contract if the client cuts the budget, so you can never entirely rely on long term stability. Having said that, there are some companies that have contracts in oil refineries and on offshore platforms that last a considerable amount of time.
  7. The best way to start in rope access work is to base yourself in a hub like Houston, Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, NY, Toronto. A hub is generally easy to travel to and from and there is a reasonable amount of local work, both in the onshore side and petro-chemical industry. Once you have obtained your L3 (takes about 3 years), and have acquired additional relevant qualifications, staying in more remote places to suit your lifestyle becomes a possibility. Companies are usually willing to pay for travel and local costs if you are experienced, can run teams and can rig well. There are also opportunities for project managers, without formal degrees, especially if you are good at organizing teams and jobs.
  8. It will be difficult to get any decent amount of rope access work as a shift worker in the local area, so it would take a long time to get the experience necessary to move up the ladder.
  9. We know many training companies and often they are very good. Some rope access companies tend to be quite conservative about employees and training (we generally tend to train our own) and as long as the training companies train technicians the same way as your target employer I don’t see any problems with compatibility. If the training method is not compatible it can take some time on rope to become familiar with the system used.

Hope this clarifies some questions for those new to ‘our’ industry.

An article by Igor Stomp

One of the many services we provide is the education of business owners, supervisors and technicians on the subject of how to work with legislation in regards to working at height. It is undoubtedly a complicated matter that most Health and Safety Officials don’t comprehend well enough to give well-informed advice. The Health and Safety Official assigned to a project has much to think about and cannot be expected to know it all, especially if they have been incorrectly led to believe that wearing a harness properly encompasses all of the necessary safety precautions. Although it is true that the aforementioned is important, understanding the requirements of proper documentation is imperative and may prevent unnecessary setbacks.

In the matter of training people with the work at height systems, it is common to hear that workers receive only a generic training of a few hours. Often there is no physical requirement and they have never actually used the equipment that could potentially save their lives! Needless to say that proper hands-on training is essential however before we continue with the steps of proper training; let us first look at legislation.

Legislation pertains to a law that was created to keep people safe and usually results from previous mishaps, analyses of risk and debate. Laws that are relevant to working at height are created to keep workers safe under any circumstance. In order to be fully compliant with the law, you must create a safe environment for those in your charge in which all workers can have input and fully understand what is required for themselves and for others to be safe.

In Canada the federal government has a law in place for fall protection meaning that on federal sites such as communication towers we must comply with those rules.

In addition, every province has individual rules.

Relating to those laws, the CSA (Canadian Standard Association) is often mentioned in reference to the standards that are mandated. The CSS is the government body who endorses those standards. It is not necessary for CSA to test these products as there are many other laboratories that test also to the CSA standard. Consequently it can be confusing for the end-user as in Canada, not all products meet the CSA standard or there is no CSA standard, or are simply not tested to the CSA standard, as there is no requirement for it by law.

Many provinces therefor refer to a professional engineer to get the system set up and approved. This is where the true knowledge comes in to make sure a safe and workable system is created, implemented and maintained.

Part of this system includes the workers using the equipment. They need to be properly educated and tested in the following:

Proper information should be on hand including all certificates which certify that the system was approved and that the training of the system was conducted. This information could be in the form of individual manuals of each item used but should also contain an anchoring plan and a risk assessment specific to where the system is being used.

A daily toolbox including talk and notes of these talks should be onsite as well, in which not only the system and tools are discussed but also the weather.

Last but not least, it is imperative that the system be properly maintained and inspected. This inspection has to be done at least on a yearly basis and in most provinces, this is mandatory.

In conclusion, here is a list of action items that are required when working at height:

Despite the differing descriptions and terminology in existence, as long as you use the aforementioned guidelines, follow the rules and go beyond the requirements where possible, you will succeed in avoiding setbacks (in the form of a fine) and in keeping your workers, colleagues and anyone using your system safe at height!

Stay safe,
Igor Stomp
EYOLF Inc.

When considering fall protection it is common to think only of fall arrest. When protection against falling is needed, most individuals may go to a safety store and buy standard equipment fabricated for fall arrest, which may or may not address their specific needs. To exacerbate the situation, certain companies have worked this angle for a long time, offering packages such as “compliance in a bucket”.

It may be common thought that fall arrest systems don’t work properly or that the user may still be in danger regardless of the equipment used. In fact we are generally in agreement that most “standard” fall arrest systems may not guarantee security. So how can individuals stay safe? The answer is simple, don’t fall!

There are vital steps to be taken so that you don’t fall.

Firstly, it is important to clarify that fall protection is the umbrella for all systems used to protect a person when he or she is exposed to the risk of gravity. This doesn’t necessarily refer to a risk at height. This could also mean falling into water or falling into a machine that could do severe damage.

When referring to fall protection, the very first step to ensure safety is to do a risk assessment. The order in which the risk assessment is done should be the hierarchy of risk, which is an overview of the steps taken to potentially eliminate the risk altogether. In other words, a risk assessment using the hierarchy of risk aims to determine the best situation for the elimination of the risk. For example, the lighting of highways is usually achieved using large towers on which light fixtures are placed. If these lights need to be repaired, the first step of the hierarchy of risk should be to determine if the lights can be fixed without the necessity of climbing the mast, perhaps by lowering the fixtures. This would eliminate the need to expose someone to any risk related to gravity.

If this is not possible, the second step would be to choose a system in which a worker can ensure maximum safety while collectively being able to reach the fixture, for instance by building a permanent platform.

If this is not achievable, the third option on the hierarchy of risk would be the use of Personal Protective Equipment, yet another system that is meant to ensure that the worker isn’t exposed to the danger of a fall. An example of this would be work restraint, in which the worker uses a tether or fixed set length lanyard to prevent him or her from entering the danger zone. It basically works like a dog leash.

Secondary to that system is work positioning, where the worker is positioned to do a particular job such as rope access. Rope access is also classified as a double work positioning system because the use of a redundant secondary system gives the assurance that it will keep the person in place if the first system fails.

The last alternative should be the use of fall arrest. The fall arrest system is well-engineered and if used properly, ensures that the worker is caught during a fall and arrested to the set amount of force. The challenge with this system is that a certain distance is required to allow the energy to be absorbed. The longer the fall or the heavier the person, the further the path of travel will be. The further the path of travel is, the bigger the chance that the user may hit something like a steel angle or a piece rebar. Most people who use this system don’t allow for the proper free fall clearance and are misusing it by anchoring at the feet. Roofers are notorious for this mistake, along with the error of using a fall arrest system that will only absorb a fall of 6ft / 1.8m. If a user is tied off at the feet, it is most likely that he or she will fall close to twice that distance. A fall of more than 15ft / 4m can cause severe injuries with a fall arrest system. The system of choice for roofers should be work restraint and when achievable, anchoring as high as possible.

An additional common scenario would be fall protection for construction workers during the construction of houses. To ensure safety, the ultimate situation for workers would involve a truss system that is erectable from the ground and which uses a trolley system. On the trolley the use of SRL’s, self-retractable lanyards are recommended. This system allows for minimum fall distance and can be attached from the ground, ensuring that the worker is attached above the head at all times. If a fall occurs, a rescue plan can be easily executed minimising the chance of further injuries.

There is always an ideal system for any type of circumstance involving risk. It is important to analyse the risk and come up with a plan.

EYOLF Inc. has decades of experience and believes that fatalities and injuries procured from a fall are unnecessary and avoidable. Please remember, DON’T FALL!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate:

Contact us

We believe change is a good thing here at Eyolf, which is why you can expect to see our brand-new production centre opening later this year. Curious about our progress? Follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

We are often surprised of the lack of knowledge among technicians working at height when it comes down to antennae.

Further investigation helps to discover that there is little information available unless you are looking for RF coming from cell phones. This is not the type of information we can use to describe what you can find on top of roofs, on towers, radar installation and any other structure that is being used to transmit or receive radio frequencies signals.

What is RF? The best way to describe this is by looking at the wavelengths and where it is used for.

Band nameFrequencyWavelengthExample uses
Extremely low frequency – ELF3-30 Hz100,000-10,000 kmSubmarines
Super low frequency – SLF30-300 Hz10,000-1000 kmSubmarines
Ultra low frequency – ULF300-3000Hz1000-100 kmMines
Very low frequency – VLF3-30 kHz1000-100 kmSubmarines
Avalanche Beacons
Low frequency – LF30-300 kHz10-1 kmNavigation
Medium frequency – MF300-3000 kHz1km-100 mAM Radio
High frequency – HF3-30 MHz100-10 mAmateur Radio and over-the-horizon aviation communications
Very high frequency – VHF30-300MHz10-1 mTelevision broadcasts and line-of-sight aviation communications
Ultra high frequency – UHF300-3000 MHz1 m – 100 mmTelevision broadcasts, mobile phones, wireless LAN, Bluetooth, and Two-Way Radios
Super high frequency – SHF3-30 GHz100 mm – 10 mmMicrowave devices, wireless LAN, radars
Extremely high frequency – EHF30-300 GHz10mm-1mmRadio astronomy and microwave radio relay

Notes

Influence on the human body varies with the duration, distance to the antenna, frequency and the amount power used. If we look closely at frequencies between 300kHz up to 300GHz the health hazards and symptoms due to over exposure is again in relation to the duration, intensity, distance to the source, polarization, any shielding used and other factors.

One can find that the main effect to exposure of these frequencies is heating of the body as energy form the fields is absorbed by the body.

Long exposure can lead to overheating, like a heat stroke due to being over active. Other symptoms are localised hot spots which can lead to burns of the skin. Be aware when wearing metal object or implants since they are more prone to heat up. Also body parts like eye or testicles are more prone to damage due to heating up. Other effects that can occur are on contact such as shocks and RF burns. This due to electrical current, not to be confused with shocks from static electricity or lightening.

In overall it is clear that over-heating is a clear symptom when working in close proximity to antennas when they are “life”. Often what might also happen is that some one is reading his or her body wrong due to the fact that climbing by itself is a physical activity that can cause overheating. Sweating is normal to cool down the body but someone will need fluids to be able to sweat.

When encountering these symptoms get away form the antennae, stop the activity and take a break in a cool and safe zone where the RF does not come.

If there have been any burns treat them with cold water and like in any case of emergency seek immediately medical attention.

Available protection

There are special RF suits that protect a body against the negative effects of RF but one has to realise that they only protect up to a certain limit.

Exposure limits are well designed that there is no serious impact to the body and does not create shocks or burns.

In Canada exposure limits are set by Health Canada’s safety Code 6. In the USA this is done by the FCC. In Canada a RF worker, someone trained on the exposure to RF the RF exposure limits is 6x times the limit for the general public. While RF suits are rated to protect the wearer up to 20 times the exposure.

There are also tools available to measure the RF intensity and devices that will alarm a RF worker that the exposure limits is exceeded.

When working close to antennae’s treat them as you would work in a confined space or close to dangerous machine. Know the hazards, have a plan, measure to make sure you are safe and most of all have and use the log out system to ensure the safety of anyone working in RF zones.

MaterialsNylon 6-6PolyesterKevlarDyneema
Melting Point°C°C°C°C
Mass Density1.15 g/cm³1.37 g/cm³1.44 g/cm³0.97 g/cm³
Friction ResistanceGoodOKExcellentSelf lubricating
StretchHighLowVery LowCreeps
ColorfastnessSuperiorGreatNotNot
Chemical ResistanceNot goodExcellentGoodExcellent
Arresting ForceExcellentGoodNot goodNot good
UVFades easilyOKWill damageExcellent
Arctic Conditions (sub -46 degrees C)Poor when wetOKExcellentNot good
Cut ResistanceGoodOKExcellentNot good
StrengthGoodGoodExcellentSuperior
MiscExcellent for useMost commonRough and toughAmazing product

Materials are a funny thing, in our industry we use man made fibers and the two most common are Nylon (come from NY-London in a time it was going to replace Silk and is a trademark of Dupont) and Polyester. Nylon is a extruded from polyamide and polyester is well a polyester.

Where Nylon feels soft and silky, Polyester is more rough both do a great job as products in the climbing industry and only a few will notice the differences but different they are. Especially in durability and stretchability. Nylon is much more durable and it stretches when using it so Nylon it is, right? Nope Polyester doesn’t absorb water, UV, availability, etc. It also has lots of good characteristics that the shift from Nylon to Polyester has been happening for the last 10 years and with good reasons.

Kevlar® is a product from Dupont and places itself in the Aramid family just like Nylon. It does not need an introduction as many of us know it from bullet proof vests and fire rated equipment. Especially for the last application it is the go to product for harnesses and lanyard. Although though to work with, try cutting it for instance, it is an excellent product we have used for special projects such as the Devil’s gate harness.

Kevlar® is chemically stable under a wide variety of exposure conditions; however, certain strong aqueous acids, bases and sodium hypochlorite can cause degradation. For the full list go to this site.

Dyneema is a product from the DSM, Dutch State Mines although the abbreviation stand on its own these days and saying the name full out any employee will correct you. Dyneema is the first and closest we as human have come to the spider fibre like materials and it keeps on developing. Where it was impossible to die the white fibers, hence the reason why the dyneema slings are mainly white, although DSM is constantly tinkering around with the product we now even have colour options…

Dyneema are produced from ultrahigh-molecular weight polyethylene and is super strong. Therefore it allows designers to create thin slings but you do have to ask yourselves what will happen during a fall as Dyneema is bad for absorbing forces unlike Nylon.

We are often asked what maximum wind speed a rope access tech can work at. Of course there is no quick answer.

Wind can be deceiving because you cannot tell if it is windy at height. Beside a freak wind where a tech can be taken by surprise there is another important element to consider: the wind chill factor. Overall the influence of wind is an important factor when working at height.

Determining if you can work on rope depends on:

It almost seems impossible to determine at what wind speed you can work with so many influences. It is safe to say that when a crane operator can’t work the rope access technician can’t do their work when they need the crane.

There are no set standards and since the rope access tech can hang safely it is important to realise that other factors will weight more heavily in the decision then technician on rope, such as:

In short you can create a safe workplace if you take everything into account. From our experience the average cut off limit is 35km/h – 10m/s. Keep in mind that it depends on what you are doing.

One of the many factors we also shouldn’t forget the wind chill factor especially in the winter when wind can cause the feeling of extreme low temperatures. Simply said hands / fingers get numb due to the cold and you need them to be able to operate the ropes…

To determine if you can work or not we now know that there are many factors and we should keep a eye out on temperature and with whom we are working. So if we say we can work in ideal conditions up to 35km/h winds. The second thing to look at is the temperature, which gives us a -27°C as temperature we can still perform as long as we dress ourselves properly.

Below there are two tables the first is from Environment Canada on wind chill temperatures vs speed and the second one is a table that translates the different ways we often use to describe the wind speed.

For more information on influences on wind chill factors have a look at the Environment Canada web site.

Notes