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How much training is needed for attendants on air monitoring equipment?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Reader Jeff Machen had a question concerning how much training to give attendants on air monitoring equipment; especially when they may only be working a week long shut down? Here’s our reply from CSRT Manager Bryan Rogers.

When you’re dealing with temporary labor, it is difficult to ensure that they are well trained on something as complex as atmospheric monitoring. We checked with several equipment manufacturers, and they don’t set a specific amount of training required, but leave it up to the customer’s internal company policy and/or person(s) issuing the monitor.

We also spoke to a few of our instructors who work at different plants and refineries. The majority of these companies require a company employee to perform the initial monitoring and then again after a break in work greater than 30 minutes. In addition, they review with the attendant what to look for and what to do if there are changes in the readings or an alarm sounds. One company provides a four-hour PowerPoint presentation on monitoring and attendant responsibilities.

OSHA does not indicate a time frame for this training either. However, it does require that persons be capable of safely performing the tasks assigned. Therefore, I would say your best bet would be to cover as much of the manufacturer’s instructions as possible along with reviewing the most common problems such as…

    - Calibration conversions
    - Turning on the monitor (or “field zeroing”) in the presence of contaminates
    - Negative LEL or negative toxic readings
    - Contaminated sampling hoses
    - Clogged filters

Lastly, I would stress to the attendants the importance of contacting a supervisor if they have any questions or concerns - and, if they get any unusual results from the monitor… “Do not hesitate to have everyone exit the space while the results are investigated!”
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Confined Space Attendants – More than just a “Hole-Watch”

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Whenever I go out into the field for a rescue stand-by job, I always take note of the attendant.  I will always talk to them in order to try and gauge this person’s level of knowledge about confined spaces in general as well as the particular entry that is being made.  Unfortunately, more often than not, I discover that this worker has very little experience or very little training in confined spaces.  Most of these workers tend to be the “low-man” on the work crew and seem to just be “thrown” in to that position.  A lot of the facilities and contractors seem to have the attitude that anyone can be the “hole-watch.”  This can be the major ingredient in a recipe for disaster.

When OSHA created the Confined Space Regulation (29 CFR 1910.146) they included a list of the “roles and responsibilities” of the Entrant, Attendant and Entry Supervisor.  A cursory glance at the responsibilities of the attendant paints a picture of someone who is acutely tied to the overall safety of the operation.

These are some of the highlights of the attendant’s duties:

    - Know the hazards that may be faced during the entry, as well as the effects of those hazards
    - Monitor conditions inside and outside of the space
    - Call for the evacuation of the space in the event of an emergency or the detection of a prohibited condition

When you look closely at these duties, you’ll see that this is a lot more than just some “body” standing outside of the space.  For example, in order to monitor the conditions inside a space, most attendants are handed a two- or four-gas air monitor and sent out to the space to “sniff” the air inside.  The untrained or inexperienced “hole-watch” will likely not be aware of the numerous things that can affect the atmospheric testing results. Things such as the techniques used to calibrate the monitor, or the oxygen content of the air, or the concentration of certain gases can all skew the readings of a monitor.  I have also seen, on at least two occasions, a ventilation fan being placed within a few feet of a bank of gas-powered welding machines.  In one case, the carbon monoxide readings inside the space reached a high enough level to actually set off the alarms on the atmospheric monitor.  These are things that unqualified workers are simply not going to know about.

Not only do the attendants out in the workforce need to be better trained, they also should be brought into the planning phase of the entry operation.  The attendant should attend pre-job meetings as well as assist in the process of making the space safe for entry.  In one entry that I witnessed about 10 years ago, a very well qualified attendant was present.  The entry was into an underground vault that housed a large water main.  The entrants were installing a new valve into the system.  Because the attendant had helped shut down and isolate the space, he was familiar with the system in general.  Once the repairs to the valve were completed, a call was made to re-pressurize the line in order to make sure there were no leaks present.  The attendant ordered the entrants to exit the space while the pipe was brought up to pressure.  The entrants argued that they needed to be there to tighten up any leaks that might develop, but the attendant was adamant that they leave the space.  As the pressure in the line climbed higher, it ruptured and the entire vault filled with water in about 30 seconds.  It happened so fast that no amount of pre-rigging for rescue would have saved the two entrants.

A well-qualified attendant can have a definite impact on the entire project.  It is unfortunate that many times they are looked at as just some person standing outside the space – instead of a key component in the overall safety of the entry operation.

Author:
Bryan Rogers
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Roco’s Rescue Team Challenge Fall 2011

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Rescue Team Challenge is a two-day event that puts industrial rescue teams to the test against confined space and elevated rescue scenarios designed by Roco’s top instructors. The event is limited to six (6) teams only, so reserve space early!

    - Learn from participating in realistic rescue scenarios.
    - Gain confidence in your skills and teamwork abilities.
    - Enjoy excellent training while interacting with rescue pros.
    - Share ideas, experiences, and techniques with teams from across the nation.

OSHA Compliance

    - Document your team’s confined space response capabilities.
    - Meet annual practice requirements in varying confined spaces types.
    - Confirm individual skills proficiency.

Trophies are awarded to the teams with top scores in Individual Skills Proficiency and the infamous “Yellow Brick Road” rescue-relay challenge.

Roco’s Rescue Challenge provides the most realistic rescue experience possible! For information and pricing CALL 800-647-7626.
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Myths and Misunderstandings

Thursday, July 01, 2010

How often have you heard the statement “I will just call 911 if we have a confined space emergency”?  Let’s dispel some common myths and misunderstandings regarding confined space rescue compliance.

In accordance with OSHA 1910.146 (d)(9) an employer that will have personnel entering Permit Required Confined Spaces at their workplace must “develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants from permit spaces, for providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees, and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting a rescue.

Meeting this requirement can be accomplished in several ways…

    - Develop an in-house rescue team made up of host employees.
    - Contract with an outside third party rescue team.
    - Coordinate with local emergency services (“911”).

Whatever way an employer chooses, there are specific evaluation criteria that must be met according to 1910.146 (k)…

The rescue team must be capable of responding in a timely manner and reaching the victim(s) within an appropriate amount of time based on the hazards of the confined space.  On-site teams (in-house or third party contracted teams) are generally better able to meet this requirement.

The team must be equipped and proficient in performing the type(s) of rescue that may be encountered.  Can they walk the walk, or just talk the talk?

The employer shall ensure at least one member of the rescue team is currently certified in CPR/First Aid.

The employer shall also ensure that the designated rescue team practices making permit space rescues at least once every 12 months from the actual spaces or representative spaces in regards to opening size, configuration, and accessibility. Representative spaces shall simulate the types of permit spaces from which rescue is to be performed.

Non-Mandatory Appendix F – Rescue Team/Rescue Service Evaluation Criteria

These are some but not all of the requirements of an initial and periodic performance evaluation of the rescue team:

At a minimum, if an offsite rescue team is being considered, the employer must contact the service to plan and coordinate the evaluation of the team based on 1910.146 (k).  Merely posting the service’s phone number or planning to rely on “911” to obtain these services at the time of a permit space emergency would not comply with paragraph (k)(1) of the standard.

Can the rescue team respond in an appropriate amount of time based on the hazards of the space?  For known IDLH hazards or hazards that can quickly develop into IDLH conditions, on scene rescue standby is required.  For non- IDLH hazards, a response time of 10-15 minutes may be adequate.

Will the offsite rescue team be available to respond to a confined space incident or is there a potential they will be out of service on a separate incident and unable to respond?

If necessary, can the rescue service properly package and retrieve victims from a permit space that has a limited size opening (less than 24 inches in diameter) or from a space that has internal obstacles or hazards? Does the service have the capability to provide rescue from an elevated location using high angle rescue techniques?

About the Author:
Patrick Furr, employed with Roco since 2000, has been actively involved with technical rescue since 1981. He is a Roco Chief Instructor as well as a Team Leader for our on-site safety services in New Mexico. Pat teaches Confined Space Rescue, Rope Access, Tower Work/Rescue and Fall Protection programs across North America. He is a retired U.S. Air Force MSgt/Pararescueman.
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Middletown, OH Confined Space Incident – FF’s Down

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010 A 32-year-old city worker is dead after being overcome by fumes this morning while checking a sewer outside of a business on Yankee Road, according to police.

Meanwhile, two firefighters who attempted to rescue the public works employee were hospitalized after the accident about 8 a.m. today, May 7, in front of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., 2500 Yankee Road, according to police.

Jabin Lakes died after falling into a manhole during an inspection, according to Police Maj. Mark Hoffman. [More...]

Firefighters went into rescue Lakes and were overcome with something in the shaft, he said. It is not clear what the substance is, according to Hoffman.

Fire Marshal Bob Hess was taken to Atrium Medical Center in Middletown and Capt. Todd Wissemier was taken to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, according to Hoffman.

The manhole is estimated to be about 20 to 30 feet deep and 20 to 22 inches wide, Hoffman said.

Mayor Larry Mulligan could not discuss details of the incident but said the city will hold a press conference today at 2 p.m. in council chambers, One Donham Plaza.

A coroner’s investigator is at the scene as well as fire rescue units from West Chester Twp., Fairfield and Franklin. The deceased man is still in the hole at 9:55 a.m.

Shortly before 10 a.m., crews were performing air quality tests on the manhole, Hoffman said. He said there does not appear to be any hazard to the general public in the area. At 10:12 a.m., crews on scene were requesting a chemist from AK Steel be sent to the manhole.

Air Products officials were in a meeting regarding the incident and couldn’t be reached for comment. The Allentown, Pa.-based company provides oxygen to AK Steel’s Middletown Works.

Hoffman said Lakes and two other city workers were inspecting the sewer about 8 a.m. because Air Products was interested in tapping into a main line. When the manhole cover was opened, Lakes was overcome by fumes and fell into the hole, he said.

The workers called 911 and fire crews arrived shortly thereafter, Hoffman said.
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South Dakota Wheat Growers Assoc. Fined $1.6M After Fatality

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association of Aberdeen, S.D., more than $1.6 million following the Dec. 22, 2009, death of a worker at the company’s McLaughlin, S.D., grain handling operation.

The worker suffocated after being engulfed by grain in one of the facility’s bins. OSHA’s investigation found that five additional workers were also at risk of being engulfed when they were sent into the bin to dig the victim out.

OSHA proposed $1,610,000 in fines for 23 alleged willful violations of the grain handling and confined space standards, including:     
    - Failing to prohibit workers from walking on top of clumped grain;
    - Failing to prohibit entry into the grain bins where the buildup of grain existed;
    - Failing to shut off and lock out equipment to prevent grain from moving through the bin while workers were inside;
    - Failing to equip workers with grain engulfment protection;
    - Failing to provide observers equipped to provide assistance;
    - Failing to train workers;
    - Failing to issue permits to control entry into grain bins;
    - Failing to test the atmosphere;
    - A lack of rescue equipment;
    - And failing to implement an emergency action plan prior to entry.

The death in South Dakota follows a similar May 2009 death of a 17-year old employee of Tempel Grain LLP in Haswell, CO. That worker also suffocated after being engulfed by grain. OSHA issued $1,592,500 in fines for 22 alleged willful and 13 alleged serious violations in that case.

OSHA has implemented a regional emphasis inspection program in the grain handling industry to address the serious hazards associated with grain bins and confined spaces, and operators and industry associations have been sent letters announcing the program. OSHA’s area offices covering Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are also providing assistance to help grain storage facilities comply with safety standards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of all OSHA citations to pay the penalties, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA
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What’s New with NFPA 1006?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Some subtle and not so subtle changes to NFPA 1006 are included in the most current edition. The 2008 edition is now titled “Standard for Technical Rescuer Professional Qualifications”. Today we’ll address some of the changes that have been made to Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 “Job Performance Requirements” which some folks call “core” requirements. We will also cover some of the changes to the Rope Rescue and Confined Space Rescue specialty areas.

Chapter 4, Technical Rescuer

As in the past, a technical rescuer must perform all of the job performance requirements of chapter 5, and at least one of the technician levels of at least one specialty area. This is analogous to the core plus one concept of previous additions. The change has to do with the new technician levels. For each specialty area there are two levels of qualification.

Level I:  An individual who can identify hazards, use equipment, and can apply limited techniques as identified in this standard.

Level II:   An individual who can identify hazards, use equipment, and can apply advanced techniques as identified in this standard.

As an example, an individual could be a level II technician for Confined Space Rescue and a Level I technician for Cave Rescue.

Chapter 5, Job Performance Requirements

A recurring theme first shows up in chapter 5, and it has to do with including specific criteria in terms of distance traveled or minimum height of certain operations.  For example, paragraph 5.5.5 and 5.5.6 have to do with directing a mechanical advantage team in the movement of a load.  The minimum distance of load travel is 3 meters, or 10 feet for those of us who struggle with metric conversion.  In addition, it is required to perform this in both a low angle (5.5.5) and high angle (5.5.6) environment.

Paragraph 5.5.7 now requires the performance as a litter tender in a low angle environment for a load haul or lower distance of 6.1 meters (20 feet).

It is now required to direct a lower in both a low angle environment (5.5.9) and a high angle environment (5.5.10), with a minimum load travel distance of 3 meters.

Paragraphs 5.5.12 requires the operation of a belay during a haul or lower of 10 feet in a high angle environment and 5.5.13 requires the belay of a falling load in a high angle environment.

Chapter 6, Rope Rescue Specialty Area

The Specialty areas include knowledge and performance criteria for Level I Technicians, and additional criteria for Level II Technicians.

Here are some of the changes and additions for level I Technicians

Paragraph 6.1.4 now specifies the compound mechanical advantage operation must be directed in a high angle environment with a load haul distance of at least 6.1 meters or 20 feet.

This next one may be the most significant for some of us.  Paragraph 6.1.5 now requires a minimum rope ascent distance of 20 feet in a high angle environment.

The descent of a fixed rope now specifies that it is to be performed in a high angle environment with a travel distance of at least 6.1 meters.

Level II Rope Rescue Technicians must perform all the Level I requirements and the following additional requirements.

Paragraph 6.2.1 requires the completion of an assignment while suspended from a rope rescue system in a high angle environment at a height of at least 20 feet.

6.2.2 requires the movement of a victim in a high angle environment at least 6.1 meters.

A couple of significant additions include the requirements to perform as a litter tender during a haul or lower in a high angle environment over a minimum 20 foot distance which is outlined in 6.2.3.   And to direct a team in the removal of a victim suspended from rope or webbing in a high angle environment (6.2.4).

Directing a team in the construction and operation of a highline system requires a minimum span of 20 feet.

Chapter 7, Confined Space Rescue Specialty Area

There are only a couple minor changes to this chapter.  First off it is now Chapter 7.  The only other significant changes are the pre-plan and assessment of a confined space incident and the control of hazards is a Level II requirement only.

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