Rope access is a form of work positioning, initially developed from techniques used in and , which applies practical rope-work to allow workers to access difficult-to-reach locations without the use of , or an . Rope access technicians descend, ascend, and traverse ropes for access and work while suspended by their harness. Some times a work seat may be used. The support of the rope is intended to eliminate the likelihood of a fall altogether. Rope access technicians use a back-up fall arrest system for the unlikely failure of their primary means of support. This redundancy system is usually achieved by using two ropes - a working line and a safety line.
The most common applications for modern rope access include inspection, surveying, maintenance, and construction on bridges, dams, wind turbines, towers, buildings, geologic slopes, and industrial plants. While inspection is the most common application, welding, cutting and heavy material handling can be accomplished by rope access professionals using specialized procedures. The industry is characterized by rigorous adherence to several key safety characteristics .