Common Questions about TAP Systems

Twenty-three years ago our affiliated company, Vertical Access, imported from the UK the concept of industrial rope access to the United States. It is an approach derived from mountaineering and caving techniques that the British developed to access difficult to reach locations on buildings. Now Alta Access is introducing a different UK access system to the United States- tensioned access platforms (TAP). TAP, made from net or membrane panels tensioned between structural members, create a “floating floor”, which can be walked on and worked from.

TAPs are of particular value when scaffolding is too disruptive to the job site or too costly and timely to erect and dismantle. TAPs are used for work at the ceiling or roof; typical applications include roof/skylight installation, mechanical, electrical, plumbing work and painting.

Two members of Alta visited the SpanSet USA headquarters to get trained on their TAP product, the WalkAbout. In this entry I’d like to address a few of the more common questions about TAP, and the WalkAbout more specifically. For a short informational video, please follow this link.


WalkAbout, installed from either an aerial work platform or rope access, is rated for 450 kg (~992 lbs). It has been designed as a work platform and not as a fall arrest system (for either personnel or debris). The synthetic membrane panels are PVC coated and fire resistant. The polyester straps are rated for 7,500 kg (~16,500 lbs) and are ratcheted to a tension of 6kN. There is an indicator on the ratchet to show when 6kN of force has been reached.

One of the most frequent questions about the WalkAbout is its resistance to puncture. Blunt objects like hammers, piping, drywall won’t do any damage to the panels. The concern is when sharper and rotating tools are used. For example a dropped grinder with the blade still spinning may cut the panel. It is important to note the panel, when cut, will not rupture and can be patched while in use.

Though the WalkAbout panels are a square 4m x 4m (~13’ X 13’) they can be shortened, linked together and overlapped to fit non-rectangular locations. TAPs made from net panels can be fabricated to fit radial or unusual shapes and can be used in conjunction with the WalkAbout.