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 approaches to cleaning the windows of skyscrapers and, at times, the only option. Many variables affect the window cleaner’s safety, some of which are entirely out of their hands. This is the reason, amongst others, that such importance is placed on knowing the gear, and the best safety practices for each piece of equipment. For this post, we will focus on rope grabs that act as a backup device, a vital piece of machinery for every high rise window cleaner.

A rope grab is an umbrella term that refers to different types of equipment. A rope grab is defined as a device put on a rope that remains stationary, even under load. There are two types of rope grabs. The first is a hand ascender, and the other is a backup device. A hand ascender is not to be used as a backup device even though a backup rope grab can be used as a hand ascender. At abc, we offer a variety of rope grabs, each with special features and characteristics that cater to the specific jobs and needs of the window cleaner. While we are delighted to chat and discuss the best option of rope grab for each window cleaner, we would like to mention that this does not substitute for training. 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.

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


1. Read the Instruction Manual. Although this seems pretty elementary and straightforward, many people skip over the instructions. However, these instructions are directly from the manufacturer and include principal 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 a greater opportunity for the lanyard to malfunction.

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

5. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for inspection. All gear must be inspected regularly. The guidelines given by the manufacturers are specific to each piece of gear. They will tell you what to look for and how to gauge 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, whether 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 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 will have something problematic.

Rope grabs are essential for every high rise window cleaner and can be regarded as one of the most significant pieces of equipment. That being said, it is crucial 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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