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A video ethnography of training for rope access work

Using a combination of EMCA methods with video data and more traditional qualitative methods this project investigates how novices acquire the safety competence that is needed to work at extreme height. For the rope access workers who use technical rock-climbing equipment and techniques to access their place of work, high levels of safety competence are needed to protect against the kind of errors that could have fatal consequences.

Recently, scholars have become increasingly interested in how extreme contexts of work like this provide a valuable resource to study how teams work together in situations where the price of organisational failure is so great. With this project, we examine how new rope access technicians acquire such safety competence both on the job site and during formal training.

To better understand how safety competence is learned on the job site, the lead researcher of this project used interviews and a participatory ethnography where he gained a rope access qualification and joined the community of practice by working as a window cleaner on high rise buildings. 

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigator