Abseil access safest way

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 September, 1999, 12:00am

After reading Simon Birch's letter ('Abseiling surveyors can hasten building safety', South China Morning Post, September 1) and Lydia Ho's report on abseilers ('New safety law grounds building-check abseilers', September 5), I am at a loss to understand how the Labour Department thinks that bamboo scaffold and gondolas are safer than qualified and experienced rope access personnel.

It seems to me the Labour Department could not or would not provide a breakdown of how many qualified rope access personnel have died, because none have, compared with the 31 persons who have died using methods that the Labour Department insists are safer, ie bamboo scaffolding, gondolas and others.

It is asking qualified rope technicians to use equipment that other people have built, installed and serviced. (Therefore the rope technicians can only hope that the safety standards are as stringent as their own.) By using ropes, the technician sets up and inspects every aspect of his equipment, and on this fact alone makes his work safer than any other method.

I would like to ask the Labour Department if the person who initiated this ban has any knowledge of rope techniques. Also, how did it come to the conclusion that rope access was any less safe than the other methods? BILL LAKE Sai Kung