Understanding rope access injuries

The Petzl Foundation is funding a multidisciplinary research team (University of Lyon 1, France), who asked 500 rope access workers in the Rhône-Alpes region to complete a questionnaire with a view to gaining a better understanding of the causes of injuries among workers at height. The aim of the study is to identify new ways to improve the health and working conditions of rope access workers by reducing the occurrence of injuries and limiting professional fatigue. The results were published in a research report in the summer of 2017 (download here).

JULY 2017


Rope access work can lead to the development of repetitive strain injuries, which are caused mainly by the difficulty involved in accessing work sites and harness suspension. Indeed, the professional bodies* that supported the study have observed that the career of a rope access technician is short. Some believe that the occurrence of traumatic or chronic injuries may precipitate retirement from the profession. There are 8,500 active rope access technicians in France. Gaining a better understanding of the root causes of injuries and the factors involved is a crucial challenge.

* The Greta Viva5, the French Agency for Risk Prevention in the Building and Civil Engineering Professions (OPPBTP) and the French Union of Rope Access Technicians (SFETH).


With 478 exploitable questionnaires, the study performed by the Laboratory of Vulnerabilities and Innovation in Sport and the Interuniversity Laboratory on Motor Biology (University of Lyon 1) offers an accurate snapshot of the rope access profession in France today. The survey provided the raw material for an epidemiological study of injuries among French rope access technicians that offers an insight into the profile of rope workers, their lifestyles and their working conditions. The study also builds a typology of occupational injuries among rope workers and attempts to understand the underlying causes of these injuries.


Based on an analysis of the data collected, the research team puts forward recommendations to reduce professional fatigue and thus contribute to the long-term economic development of the sector, including:

  • Alternating work and rest periods in an optimal way over the course of the day.
  • Regularly consuming isotonic drinks.
  • Performing stretches at the end of the working day.
  • Planning a diverse range of tasks and using a wide variety of tools so as to avoid repeated and concentrated stresses on the same part of the body.
  • Seeking greater levels of comfort by staying in hotels rather than campsites or camper vans.

Uploaded in July 2017



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