The role of an IRATA specialist clockmaker

March 17, 2021 Uncategorized

An unusual passion.. 

The start of British Summer Time (clock change) signals warmer days, lighter evenings, and spring blooms.

For Smith of Derby, this brings with it the start of dial restoration season, meaning that our skilled engineers and clockmakers are busy in the workshop and out and about the country helping to restore and maintain public time.

Supporting this work is our seven strong team of IRATA trained rope access specialist clockmakers. The expertise they bring to the business, coupled with our rigorous bi-annual safety checks and safety critical medicals, demonstrates our commitment to health and safety along with the well-being of our team. Running alongside this is our continual training to enhance the depth and breadth of the skills we offer as a company.

Equipment safety checks and inspections for any signs of damage and wear are carried out twice yearly by Zurich.


The team is headed up by our clockmaker Jason Budd, who has in excess of 10,000 hours of working in rope access. Expertise gained over 20 years. Jason first qualified in Rope Access in 2001 with IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association). Since that time, Jason has re-validated his Level 3 qualification every three years, as required, and in total Jason has taken five assessments at this level. Jason has worked with Smith of Derby as a Level 3 supervisor since 2007, becoming a full-time employee in 2019.

Jason using his skills on a dial restoration.


IRATA was formed in the late 1980s and is internationally recognised as the leading authority in rope access techniques and procedures. The techniques originated from ‘caving’, and the early equipment used was taken straight from the climbing and caving world. Over the years this equipment has developed to be more suited to an industrial environment it is used in today, and much of it is a far cry from the basic caving equipment of yesteryear.

To become a qualified technician involves four days of intensive training, both classrooms based and practical. This is then followed by a day’s assessment where everything learnt over the last four days is put to the test.

There are three levels of qualification/experience in the IRATA technician training programme, level 1 is the basic principles of rope manoeuvres, the fundamentals of rope rigging and simple rescues. Any work on site as a level 1 technician must be carried out under the supervision of a level 3 technician. The level 2 qualification is intermediate in terms of skills and knowledge. To achieve level 2, a technician has to have a minimum of 12 months and 1000 hours of work experience under their belt. They need to have the ability to rig the working ropes for a variety of situations and undertake complex rescue and hauling techniques under the supervision of a Level 3 technician, as well as looking more in depth at legislation of the industry.

Finally, level 3 is the advanced qualification in terms of site work. It is all about site supervision combined with the knowledge of both levels 1 & 2 and more advanced rigging and rescue techniques. Along with this, a technician must have an understanding of the legislation, safety requirements and procedures relating to the IRATA international code of practice. To gain level 3, a technician must have been operating at level 2 for a minimum of 12 months and have logged at least 1000 hours work experience at this level. Further to these levels are trainer, instructor and assessor qualifications. These can be gained through experience and knowledge along with meeting the requirements laid out in IRATA’s Training Assessment and Certification Scheme.

As well as the formal training and safety training our team must keep physically fit – rope access work is strenuous.  Over the coming months if you see our rope access clockmakers working on churches and buildings up and down the country you will know a little more about the role and training, they do.  If you are inspired by the work and would like more details on being a clockmaker please contact

About the author

Rachael Inglis: