ITM Monitoring scales new heights – Introducing rope access to ITM’s in-house capabilities

Continuing to expand our own in-house capabilities, and thus extend our areas of overall control over instrumentation installation, we are now able to reach areas of sites that have previously been problematic due to reasons such as accessibility, weight limits, time restraints and safety.  Over the past six months, ITM has undertaken over 100 hours of rope access work and this is expected to be an area of growth due to the benefits it brings clients in budget efficiencies, time saved and quality control of instrumentation installation.

IRATA, the International Rope Access Trade Association, defines rope access as a safe method of working at height where ropes and associated equipment are used to gain access to and from the work position, and to be supported there. Rory Millin, Site Manager at ITM Monitoring, has achieved an IRATA level 1 qualification and put it into action on projects where ITM is providing manual or automated geotechnical and structural monitoring, including Pen Y Clip tunnels, Port of Dover, Edinburgh’s Forth Road Bridge, the Royal College of Music in London and Network Rail’s Western Route.

Port of Dover

“Hanging off the Forth Bridge, amongst other places around the UK, wasn’t something that I anticipated doing as part of my job, but I really enjoy it and it brings great benefits to both our customers and ITM,” comments Rory. “It’s pretty unusual for a monitoring company to have staff with IRATA qualifications, as most other monitoring contractors employ subcontractors, but we felt that it was worth investing in this training as it allows us to have greater control over what happens on site with regard to placement and installation of instrumentation, which ensures we deliver the quality of work which our customers have come to expect from ITM.”

Forth Road Bridge

When installing monitoring instrumentation, ITM makes use of three types of access systems – rope, MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) or scaffold. “We select the best option depending on the needs of the client and the scenario of the specific job, but it generally comes down to accessibility, safety and cost,” continues Rory. “Rope access allows us to quickly and safely access previously problematic areas, which may not be reached using either of the other two more conventional access systems.”

When setting up rope access on site, the team ITM deploys includes a rope access operative partner who has a level 3 IRATA qualification to establish a safe system of work, as well as Rory. “Once a safe system of work has been setup, I carry out the required site assessments and instrumentation installations,” adds Rory. “This eradicates any concerns we may have about equipment being installed correctly by untrained personnel, and has significant other benefits for our customers.”

Royal College of Music

There are many advantages of using rope access in geotechnical and structural monitoring projects, these include:

  • Safety – Trained in the use of specialised ropes and implementation of a two-rope system, working as part of an experienced team and the fact that all tools are attached to the rope operatives, makes rope access one of the safest ways to work at height and reach otherwise tricky to access sites.
  • Rapid deployment and dismantle – Rope access is fast to set up and equally fast to dismantle, and usually requires fewer personnel than other more conventional access systems.
  • Minimal disruption – The ability to deploy and dismantle rope access systems quickly minimises any potential downtime required on site, which means reduced impact on operations. Rope systems also have minimal environmental impact, which is particularly beneficial if works are required in sensitive areas.
  • Equipment removed from site daily – Unlike scaffolding, ropes can be removed from a site at the end of each shift, reducing any impact on the public and the security risk associated with leaving access route unguarded. For example, ITM is currently quoting for works in an operational shopping centre, where installation is required to take place over night and equipment removed quickly at the end of each shift.
  • Cost effective – Requiring fewer personnel to set up, having quicker deployment and dismantle times, with less equipment and reduced downtime and disruption results in lower costs for the client.
  • Flexible – The type of projects where rope access can be utilised are endless, ranging from railway embankments and cuttings, to internal/external structures. Unlike the more conventional access systems, bespoke rope access systems can be designed for different site scenarios quickly and cost effectively, allowing unlimited access to the point of interest.

If you have a geotechnical or structural monitoring requirement to discuss, contact our team on +44 (0)1825 701801 or We’re always happy to share our expertise.