Back-up Device Review Paper

A summary of relevant technical and legal information relating to the historical development of industrial rope access back-up devices

The selection and use of back-up devices for rope access is one of the most interesting and controversial topics in the fall protection industry. Global debate on the subject has escalated recently, although some of the issues regarded as topical now were raised by far sighted users two decades ago.

heightec has followed the development of these issues whilst researching, testing and developing its own solution to the complex requirements of a versatile back-up device. It seemed that a proper understanding of the current state of affairs required all of the information to be gathered together and the document below is our own reference point for establishing what a product must do to satisfy technical and legal requirements in a robust and predictable manner.

It is a review – it does not identify any specific issues, propose solutions or discuss product characteristics. Further detail on these topics will be provided in a separate document. Whilst much of what is gathered here may be already known to many, there does seem value in presenting all aspects together and we hope there will be something here relevant to everyone.

heightec sees the review as a ‘living’ document and constructive feedback and/or contributions are actively sought; in particular from those who are able to provide a non-UK view on the design, selection and use of back-up devices in industrial rope access. We would encourage you to share the document with colleagues.

Contributions can be submitted to the Technical Director via email: review [at]

To read the review document, click here to log in to our downloads area.

©The heightec Group Ltd, July 2013

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