The Do’s And Don’ts of Rope Grabs

Amy LavinHigh Rise Safety, Industry, Technique, Window CleaningLeave a Comment

High Rise window cleaning is arguably one of the more extreme methods to clean the windows of skyscrapers and at times, the only option. There are many variables that affect the window cleaner’s safety, some of which are completely out of the hands of the window cleaner themselves. This is the reason, among others, that such importance is placed over the knowledge of the gear in use and the best safety practices for each piece of equipment. For this post, we will be focusing on rope grabs that act as a back up device, a vital piece of machinery to any and every high rise window cleaner.

Rope grab is an umbrella term that refers to a few different types of equipment. A rope grab is defined as a device put on rope that remains stationary, even under load. Within that umbrella, there are two types of rope grabs. The first is a hand ascender and the other is a back up device. A hand ascender is not to be used as a back up device even though a back up rope grab can be used as a hand ascender. Here at abc, we offer a variety of rope grabs, all of which are high quality pieces of gear, each with special features and characteristics that cater to the specific jobs and needs of the window cleaner. While we are very happy to chat and discuss the best option of rope grab for each individual window cleaner, we would like to mention this does not substitute for training what so ever. In fact, we highly suggest getting certified in SPRAT or IRATA (or both) to ensure each window cleaner is at his or her peak safety ability while high rise window cleaning.

These tips are some simple do’s and don’ts of backup device rope grabs meant simply to help you better understand your gear and it’s purpose.


1. Read the Instruction Manual. Although this seems pretty simple and elementary, many people skip over the instructions. However, these instructions are directly from the manufacturer and include important and specific information, such as corresponding rope size that is crucial to the success of the rope grab.

2. Use rope grab with only compatible lanyards and rope sizes. Alternate lanyards may not properly absorb the weight and shock from a fall and in turn fail to catch. The wrong size rope will not allow the rope grab’s teeth to clamp down and deem the rope grab as useless.

3. Minimize your fall distance by keeping your rope grab as high as possible. Leaving your rope grab low creates a longer falling distance for the window cleaner, which in turn allows for more opportunity for the lanyard to malfunction.

4. Drop proof your device. Some rope grabs come with an attachment point for some accessory cord. This way, you are able to keep the rope grab from falling when detaching it from rope. Other rope grabs come with the lanyard and the rope grab attached.

5. Follow manufacturers guidelines for inspection. All gear must be inspected, quite regularly. The guidelines given by the manufacturers are specific to the piece of gear. They will tell you what to look for and how to gage the wear and tear of your device. If you ever take a fall on any gear, you must retire that gear immediately.


1. Don’t grab the device. Instead, grab the lanyard. Use this to move you up and down. Otherwise, the rope grab might be defeated by the position you have grabbed, wether that is above the device or on the actual device itself.

2. Don’t put the device on upside down. Most devices come with an arrow showing you which way is the correct way to attach the device. The rope grab is totally useless if it is put on incorrectly.

3. Don’t use the device after someone has taken a fall on it. We mentioned this earlier, but every piece of gear must be retired after someone has fallen on it. Some equipment might not be noticeably compromised after a fall, but indeed have something problematic.

Rope grabs are very important to any high rise window cleaner and can be regarded as one of the most important pieces of equipment used. That being said, it is so very important to know and familiarize yourself with your equipment. Along with proper training, these quick Do’s and Don’ts are essential tips to keep window cleaners safe while using rope grabs.

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