Hard to reach or “high-rise” signs can’t be repaired with a typical service vehicle. Standard boom trucks, cherry pickers, and bucket trucks have a limited height reach, generally maxing out at 185 feet. So what do you do when you have a high-rise sign that needs repair or an upgrade, such as an LED retrofit? Below we examine the two most common methods used to access high-rise signs.
Swing Staging Equipment
This equipment is what window washers use to clean the windows on high-rise buildings. It’s also an indispensable tool for construction projects because it provides easier- and more flexible access than traditional- ground-up scaffolding.
Most construction businesses own their equipment because they frequently use it, making it a wise investment. If you only need it occasionally, say to wash windows or repair your high-rise signage, purchasing it may not make the most sense. Why? Take into consideration how often you would use it. Do you have trained personnel on hand who know how to set it up and who have experience using it? Do you have adequate storage space for it? These and other factors should be carefully considered before purchasing.
Swing staging equipment can be rented, however, many companies will not rent this equipment by the hour. Most often, it’s rented out by the week, month, or longer. Prices will vary by geographic area, and other variables will come into play that can affect the final cost, such as special rooftop rigging requirements due to the nature of the building design, the size needed, etc.
Rappelling – Rope Access
Rope access is commonly referred to as rappelling in the sign industry. Rappelling is when a person uses an anchored rope to move down the side of a structure in a controlled way. To perform the rappel, the person utilizes specialized equipment. A harness to keep them secure, rappelling rope, carabiners, a belay device to help control the descent and ascent, a backup device, gloves, and an anchor secured at the top of the building. Also at the top is a helper or spotter who assists with setup, lowers necessary tools and equipment, and is on-hand as an additional safety precaution.
Businesses can save money on maintenance for their high–rise signs by hiring a company that provides rappelling service. The cost difference between swing stage equipment vs rappelling is considerably less with rappelling, and repairs can be completed much faster. A word of advice – it is extremely important to hire a company that has technicians who have been trained and certified in rappelling. Reputable sign companies require that all new technicians complete a minimum of 4-6 hours of classroom training, plus an additional 20 hours of on-rope training. Technicians who have already been certified must be recertified every two years by completing 2 hours of classroom training and 8 hours of on-rope training. Lastly, make certain the company you select is licensed and properly insured.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Rope access (rappelling) offers a more efficient and less intrusive solution for servicing outages or making patterns for face replacements or LED retrofits. It’s also a much more cost-effective solution if you’re looking to reduce expenses on these services.
For information on OSHA regulations on this topic, visit www.osha.gov