Saturday, 3 December 2011

RopeTec Window Cleaners Excel In Ghana, A Stuntman In Dubai

Like ‘spider men’ embarking on a rescue mission, Ropetec operators were observed hanging and washing the windows of the ‘Opeibea House’ suspended only by ropes.
"Labourers On Rope" Hit Town: High-rise buildings in Ghana can now be serviced without the hassle of a scaffold, following the entry of Ropetec Ghana Limited, a registered rope access company, into the Ghanaian market. This resulted from the recognized need for specialised inspection and maintenance services in elevated, almost inaccessible locations. According to Bobby Dicks, Country Manager of Ropetec, the company specializes in Rope Access and Accessibility, offering inspection, maintenance, industrial and civil solutions. Speaking to The Business Analyst after a demonstration of its operations in Accra last Saturday, he said the company offered a wide range of specialized services to both the marine and industrial sectors.

Like ‘spider men’ embarking on a rescue mission, Ropetec operators were observed hanging and washing the windows of the ‘Opeibea House’ suspended only by ropes. The job, which would have taken weeks if scaffolds had to be used, took a few hours to complete in a clear demonstration of the ‘high-tech’ involved. Bobby Dicks said Ropetec Ghana had completed various projects in the past few months, all located on offshore installations, involving non-destructive testing (NDT), blasting, painting and general maintenance. He indicated that the company, which was established in September 2010, became operational in September 2011, after successfully completing all registration legalities and requirements. The Country Manager told the paper that Ropetec Ghana currently employs five (5) rope access technicians all of whom have the internationally accredited and required IRATA (International Rope Access Trade Association) Level 1 certification.

In addition, he stated that two of the technicians are certified Level 2 UTM Inspectors (ultrasonic thickness measuring) which is used in NDT. Trained in South Africa and based in Accra and Takoradi, the five technicians now form part of Ropetec Ghana’s operations, which has identified skills development of the local labour force as a key component to sustainable and equitable growth in Ghana. Ropetec Ghana is a division of Ropetec International (RI) which has its Head Office in Dubai and Operations Office in Cape Town, South Africa. In addition to Ghana, S. Africa and Dubai, RI also has registered offices in Brazil, Namibia, Congo, Nigeria, Abu Dhabi and Angola, which is its largest operational base. Over 400 skilled contractors work for RI across the globe, which began trading in 2000 in a response to the need for the quick mobilization of specialized Inspection and Maintenance Services in elevated and inaccessible locations such as offshore installations.

In keeping with the international standards of RI by providing skilled staff to clients with minimal delay, Ropetec Ghana offers Inspection and Maintenance services to the Offshore and Industrial sectors. However, Ropetec Ghana has taken the lead in RI by training and employing local Ghanaians prior to commencing operations. Traditionally, Ropetec International ensures projects are procured prior to employing full time staff. IRATA rope access system is a safe method of working at height, where ropes and associated equipment are used to gain access to and egress from the work place and to be supported by it. The advantage of using rope access methods mainly lies in the safety and speed with which workers can get to and from difficult locations and then carry out the work, with minimal impact on other operations. There are three Levels of rope access technicians: L1, L2 and L3 with the third level being the highest.

All work sites must have at least one L3 rope access safety supervisor on site as the designated person responsible for the safety of the rope access systems plus the L1 and L2 rope access technicians who work under his supervision. The different levels are as follows: At L1 – the technician is able to perform a specified range of rope access tasks under the supervision of a L3; At L2 – the technician is experienced with L1 skills plus more complex rigging, rescue and rope access skills under the supervision of a L3 and; At L3 – the technician is capable of taking complete responsibility for rope access safety on all work sites and has the extensive knowledge of advanced rigging and rescue techniques, plus holding an appropriate and current first aid certificate and can become a site supervisor.

In order to progress to the next Level the L1 technician must have logged at least 1,000 working hours using rope access techniques and have worked for a minimum of at least one year; the L2 technician must have logged a combined total of 2,000 working hours and a minimum of two years’ experience, a minimum of four days further training followed by stringent assessment conducted by an independent international IRATA assessor. Before any work scopes are undertaken whether onshore or offshore, strict safety precautions are taken in the form of Client liaison , Job Safe Analysis , Risk Analysis , Work Method Statements , Rescue plan , Medevac procedure and daily toolbox talks before any work commences.

The rope access technician is able to add additional skills to his rope access certification in fields such as Welding and gas cutting – aerole rigging, NDT (Non Destructive Testing), blasting and painting, NACE painting inspector, mechanical and electrical, roller painting and window washing. The rope access technician together with his other certifications will be able to work on almost any work site and provide a quick, safe and productive solution to the Industrial and Oil and Gas sector. Ghana currently contributes to the oil production on the African continent, which boasts the highest worldwide growth of oil and gas production. Between 1999 and 2008 Africa’s oil production growth grew at a rate of 3.4% p.a. compared to the Middle East, which only averaged 1.8% and placed it higher than any other region in the world. Looking at the future growth in Ghana, Ropetec Ghana has analyzed the local labour force and realised the critical need for investment into it if both international companies and local Ghanaians are going to be able to dually benefit from the oil boom in Ghana that is currently on the horizon.

Ropetec Ghana firmly believes that for local Ghanaians to equally benefit from oil exploration and extraction in their country, there needs to be a substantial investment by both the private sector and government into skills transfer and development of the local labour force, specifically in the artisan sector which is where rope access technicians are positioned. Not only will local artisans become employable in a specialized niche market but it will make foreign investment into Ghana far more attractive as the local labour market will be able to service the requirements of the oil and gas industry.

Continuing on their strong belief in education as a key component of upliftment, Ropetec Ghana has entered into an exciting partnership with the Computer Centre Project, located in Beyin in the Jomoro District in the Western Region. As part of their CSI (corporate social investment) policy, Ropetec Ghana has identified the Computer Centre Project as a vital project to equip learners with essential computer skills when entering the job market. Ropetec Ghana is therefore committed to both the on-going development of local skilled labour and looks forward to long term and sustainable investment into Ghana.

If allowed, Eskil Ronningsbakken would become the second daredevil to carry out a life-threatening stunt on Burj Khalifa. Above, he does a balancing act on the Great Wall of China.
Stuntman aims to balance on Burj Khalifa, Dubai: In the 23 months since it opened, the world's tallest building has been a magnet for base jumpers and free climbers. Now, an extreme balancing artist wants to perform a death-defying handstand on its summit. Eskil Ronningsbakken, a former circus performer from Norway, has asked the owners of the Burj Khalifa for permission to perform the stunt, which he hopes to be "contrary to all physical laws". He would set up a ladder, secured with rigging, at the spire of the Burj Khalifa, then balance on one hand at the top of it, his body pointing out at an angle away from the building. "Why would I not want to do it?" he said. "This is how I live. This kind of performance is as natural to me as meeting in court is for a lawyer." If he gets the go-ahead, he would become the second daredevil to carry out a life-threatening stunt on the building.

Earlier this year, France's self-proclaimed "Spiderman", Alain Robert, climbed the height of the tower. He was granted permission on condition - grudgingly accepted - that he used safety harnesses. Ronningsbakken is no more willing, but said he too would use a harness if he had to. "If use of safety is the only way to get the necessary permissions, then I will be open to discuss it," he said. "But I don't like the thought of it. "People around the world commit mistakes and end up in accidents every day, even they have a safety system, a harness or a life vest. That's mainly because they rely too much on external equipment, instead of using the natural tools they were born with."

Robert himself slipped and fell briefly on his way up the 828metre building, a fact he later attributed to the psychological difference between climbing with a harness rather than without. Traks, a company that trains the abseiling window cleaners on the Burj Khalifa, helped set up the rigging for Robert's ascent. The company founder, James Falchetto, said the stunt was possible, in theory. "It's pretty windy up there, though," he said. Ronningsbakken is unconcerned about the wind, though, having spent part of his career learning to adjust to wind pressure. "I always have to work with the wind, and never try to force it to be the way I want it," he said. "I also learned how to read the intervals of different winds, the directions and strength without using modern instruments."

A spokesman for Emaar was unavailable for comment. However, Ronningsbakken said he had previously applied for permission, soon after the launch, and been rejected. He hopes Robert's climb had opened the company to other artists. "I just hope they will loosen the bag and shake out some positive energy my way," he said. Ronningsbakken was inspired at the age of five by the visit of an Indian yogi to his village in the rural wilds of Norway. As soon as he was old enough, he joined the circus and later became a more serious balancing artist. Although he comes close to death on a daily basis through his art, he rejects any suggestion that he has a death wish. "No one who wants to commit suicide behaves like us," he said. "I would rather like to describe my art as living 100 per cent in the moment."

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