Arecibo Observatory


The Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico is a massive radio telescope that measures 1,000 feet in diameter, 167 feet deep, and covers 20 acres. 450 feet above the dish is a platform and georgian dome, suspended by 18 cables that are strung from three concrete towers. Employees perform inspections of the georgian dome, cables and all other areas of the telescope, exposing them to fall hazards of up to 600 feet.


Due to the extreme nature and magnitude of the work environment and the sub-optimal fall protection systems in place, the rescue training had to be extensive and cover potential rescue situations in all areas of the telescope.

Training was primarily conducted on the Azimuth arm over the dish, but rescue scenarios had to take place outside of the dome. A victim could not simply be lowered as is the case in more traditional vertical work environments, but would have to be re-directed in order to clear the dome.


The curriculum covered a wide variety of industrial rescue techniques including the use of ropes and pulleys to maneuver across the span of the dome. Mechanical advantage systems were a key aspect of training in order to optimize the mobility of a victim within the telescope. Identification of certified and non-certified anchors was included in the curriculum to enhance the students’ preventative knowledge.


Gravitec not only provided industrial rescue and rope access training, but also focused on protection and preventative methods to reduce the need for rescues. Management noticed a marked improvement in the efficiency of day-to-day tasks after training.