The cathedral of Troyes, a 62-meter-high building, is one of the most beautiful historical monuments in France. This beautiful and flamboyant 800 year old lady is in need of a new lease of life, so she is going to be restored.

Safety, the only watchword

The program for Franck and Benoît, two climbers ready to climb the belfry, is the repair of the sound louvers, the blades which allow the sound of the bells to be channeled to the ground. They are equipped from head to toe and work on 2 ropes, a progression rope and a safety rope on which they are connected with a self-locking system. So if they have a problem with a rope, they still have a safety rope to make up for it.

Benoît, rope access technician for 4 years, carries out masonry work, suspended in the air, at a height of 40 meters: “In the rope access profession, this vertical side is what we are looking for, what we like, it’s almost a passion. There is also the sporting side, it’s a job in which we must have a good physical condition and being demanding with oneself. Our job is safety above all, one must be rigorous with oneself and colleagues, one cannot speak of fear but remain aware of the environment in which one works “.

The risks of this profession

To ensure their safety, rope access technicians always work in pairs. If one of their colleague is injured on a rope, they must be able to get him quickly, the pair is the key word. It is all a matter of mutual aid, self-control and relief.

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A rope technician for 25 years, Franck likes to pass on his experience to the youngest, many of whom are attracted by this thrilling job: “It takes a little bit of the traditional building … It has a little fun side. We had the chance to work on the Pantheon, on Notre Dame … These are magnificent sites … From my office, I have a very nice view “.

The postcard should not overlook the risks associated with working on this type of building. There are risks associated with great height, hot, cold, materials that are polluting for some such as lead.

Added to these risks are those specific to the rope access profession, such as joint, ligament and muscle injuries. Tendonitis or musculoskeletal disorders also affect the shoulders, which are particularly stressed and are very recurrent pathologies.

Harness syndrome

Rope access technicians can be victims of discomfort resulting in death, such as speleologists and mountaineers, in suspension. Suspension trauma, or harness syndrome, is a state of shock resulting from passive immobile suspension. This inert and prolonged suspension requires appropriate management, knowing that loss of consciousness is an aggravating factor.

“There is a whole physio-pathological mechanism which intervenes if one does not act quickly, it can have a cardio-respiratory arrest. The feet are in a vacuum, there is no venous return so there will be a drop in blood flow to the heart and the heart will react by trying to pump as quickly as possible. There is a risk of hypertension and the heart will stop, it is necessary to intervene within 3 minutes. ” explains Dr Simla Chutturdharry occupational physician at the Joint Occupational Health Association

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These extreme workers must therefore be monitored regularly by occupational medicine. France has 8,500 rope access technicians and according to an association, 21 have died since 2006 in accidents at work.