Two shared characteristics of mountains and high rise buildings, height and steepness, make both well suited to rappelling. This mountaineering technique, also known as abseiling, involves sliding down a double rope using a friction device to brake and control rate of descent. The technique is being used by many inspection firms and public works departments in Great Britain for building and bridge inspection, replacing conventional access by scaffolding and platforms. LEARNING THE ROPES You don't have to be a mountaineer to perform rappelling inspections. Inspection teams can quickly learn rappelling skills. To set up for a rappel, two anchors are attached to existing strong points on the top of the building. A rope is attached to each anchor and run from the top of the structure to the ground. The rappeller is suspended from the ropes by a harness system. IS IT SAFE? There have been no industrial accidents involving rappelling work in Britain and the Health and Safety at Work Executive (the British version of OSHA) accepts rappelling as a safe access method. ON-THE-SPOT TESTS AND REPAIRS A rappeller has both hands free to perform a variety of tests during an inspection. The rappeller also can make emergency repairs such as joint sealing, patching, waterproofing, and panel reinstatement.