Photo Essay: Learning the ropes to keep skyscrapers gleaming and tackle emergencies

The National photographer Antonie Robertson goes behind the scenes at Dubai occupational safety company Traks Pro

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Dubai boasts a stunning skyline of high-rises – earning it a place among the top five cities in the world for the number of skyscrapers.

But these gleaming towers come with their own set of challenges, especially when scaling great heights to clean and maintain them.

Most high-rises need external maintenance and cleaning at least twice a year, while the city's best-known skyscrapers require work three or four times annually.

It’s a job left to the experts, and helping them stay up-to-date with the latest techniques is the team from Dubai-based Traks Pro, a company which specialises in providing training in occupational safety, particularly involving rope access.

Rope access techniques offer a flexible and cost-effective way for technicians and maintenance staff to access any part of a tower without difficulty.

It is also a vital skill for emergency services personnel, who may have to undertake rescue missions in tall buildings.

Technicians may spend eight hours a day, suspended from ropes on skyscrapers and, of course, working at heights comes with risks. To minimise these, it’s crucial personnel are thoroughly trained and able to deal with unforeseen situations, says James Falcetto, owner of Traks Pro.

“It’s about training them to deal with the unknown,” said Mr Falcetto.

The first four to five days of Traks Pro's training involves theory and practical lessons, followed by an assessment on the sixth day.

“This is to check if the technician is able to retain what he has learnt,” said Mr Falcetto.

For the real challenge is to ensure technicians and emergency services personnel can retain and recall what they've been taught, say the Traks Pro owner.

“So, even days or weeks after they’ve completed the training, they recall the techniques. It should become second nature, like muscle memory,” he said.

When The National photographer Antonie Robertson was visiting the Traks Pro centre at Dubai Investment Parks, a 15-member team from the General Civil Aviation Authority was taking a safety course.

GCAA team leader Rashed Al Shehhi said the group does this every two years.

“It involves two parts – one around tower maintenance work, and the other on rescue missions where a crisis is simulated so the team can practise a response,” said Mr Al Shehhi.

Updated: May 31, 2024, 6:01 PM