Rope Grabs, Elementary My Dear Watson

So, as an @height worker, rope is pretty much your bread (maybe even your butter). When your life is potentially hanging on this glorified string, it helps to know how the hell to use the tools holding you onto that rope. So with that we say, get trained, get certified, get experienced. Nothing will substitute good training and experience.
For now, we created this pretty easy (and obviously humorous) post about the Do’s and Don’ts of rope grabs. But before we go any further, let us clear something up for you greenies. Rope grab, as it were, 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, sorta like the whole “a rectangle is a square but a square is not a rectangle” idea. A back up device is used for ascending (or descending) on a rope or a handle in a haul system. And that, greenie, is why you need solid training.


1. Read the Instruction Manual. Yep, that paper that you were going to throw away before you read this post, read that. It’ll tell you just about everything you need to know about your rope grab. Don’t be stubborn, just do it already.

2. Use rope grab with only compatible lanyards and rope sizes. You know where you find that information? In the instruction manual… see where we’re going with this?

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 worker. Instead, move that bad boy along with you when you ascend. It’ll make for a much less sucky fall if something were to happen.

4. Drop proof your device. Some rope grabs come with an attachment point for some accessory cord. Some rope grabs come with an attachment point for some accessory cord. Not only is it terribly dangerous to drop anything from up high, you’ll also be SOL if you were to drop your rope grab. Some rope grabs come with everything already attached to one another, its just what you decide you want.

5. Follow manufacturers guidelines for inspection. All gear must be inspected, quite regularly. Let us repeat, all gear must be inspected, quite regularly. With the manufacturers guidelines, you’ll know exactly what to look for and check.


1. Don’t grab the device.Instead, grab the lanyard. Use this to move you up and down. Otherwise, the device might not work. Seriously, it won’t work, it’ll be defeated for one reason or the other and you’ll go straight down.

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. Another straight ride to the ground.

3. Don’t use the device after someone has taken a fall on it. We can’t stress this idea enough. Don’t use it. Make it into a Christmas tree ornament perhaps, but don’t use it on your rope.

The best and only way to truly become familiar with your gear is to get trained. If you are only able to remember one thing from this post, remember that. This post, although brilliant in it’s own manner, will not suffice as training. These do’s and don’ts are just the tip of the iceberg. We want to hear some of your rope grab do’s and don’ts. Comment below with more. Now go get trained and stay 100%.

Amy LavinRope Grabs, Elementary My Dear Watson
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