IRATA and SPRAT are two globally recognized associations, both having the objectives of the continuous research and development of quality and safety standards concerning rope access techniques and the training of rope access technicians to such standards.
Both the associations divide their own certification system into three different levels of qualifications, which reflect different levels of difficulty, competences and responsibilities: what differs between SPRAT and IRATA is what is required at each level of qualification.
- The Level 1 is essentially the same for both the associations, the only difference being that SPRAT does not include aid climbing – which is required at SPRAT Level 2;
- IRATA Level 2 includes training for different types of rescue, which in SPRAT are required only at Level 3;
- IRATA and SPRAT Level 3 certifications are very similar to each other and basically include the same contents.
Another determining factor is represented by the prerequisites required to the candidates in order to upgrade to Level 2 and Level 3:
- Under IRATA standards, in order to upgrade to Level 2 and 3, Technicians must have registered a minimum of 1000 working hours into their logbooks (meaning that the minimum amount of hours required to upgrade to Level 3 is 2000 → 1000 hours previously collected for Level 2 + another 1000 hours to upgrade to Level 3), collected over a period of time of at least 12 months.
- SPRAT requires instead a minimum of 500 working hours registered on the logbook (this means that the minimum amount of working hours required to advance to Level 3 is 1000 → 500 already accumulated for Level 2 + another 500 hours to progress to Level 3) collected over a period of time of at least 6 months.
Being both the associations very active and in continuous development, it is not to exclude that in the future new updates and changes will be introduced in the two systems.
What to do at this stage?
At this point, it is clear to everyone that SPRAT, though providing in its training program similar contents to the ones proposed by IRATA, having the same difficulty, requires less time to advance through the different Levels of qualification and to obtain the maximum grade; this is certainly positive.
In our view, there are two possibilities: choosing what seems to suit your work needs the most or attending the special course to obtain both the certifications.
However, it is important not to forget that what really matters in rope access work, beyond safety, is one thing: the experience.
In fact, it will be exclusively the experience that, once obtained the first certification, will allow you to improve your skills, to acquire awareness of the tools and techniques used, to finally understand the sense of certain situations that at Level 1 seemed to be incomprehensible, and how to better apply the basic techniques acquired during the course to the different work scenarios. Rope access work can be applied to a wide range of environments, from confined spaces to the highest buildings and structures, therefore you will find yourself in front of various possibilities, combinations of techniques that must be carefully planned and applied only to reach the workplace – don’t forget that rope access techniques allows to access the worksite: once in position, you will have to pull your sleeves up, take the tools and start working seriously! – . In short, you will face problems that need to be solved, similar or completely new contexts, never to be underestimated under the point of view of safety.
After all, this is what makes rope access a fascinating, stimulating, surprising and eventually even a funny way of working.
What’s left to say: Be safe and….enjoy the landscape!