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Inspection Required for Petzl ASAP Lock

Monday, April 18, 2016

Petzl has reported a couple of instances where cracks may have developed over time in the arms of the ASAP LOCK (B71 ALU). While a cracked arm presents no additional immediate risk to the user, as with any personal protective equipment (PPE), the presence of such a crack requires immediate retirement of the device. In the unlikely event that someone finds an ASAP LOCK displaying cracks, Petzl America will replace these units under their standard product warranty.

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CSR2 Pulley System

Monday, March 21, 2016

By Josh Hill, Technical Equipment Manager for Roco Rescue

The CSR2 pulley system by CMC has been redesigned and includes many improvements. Its performance is quite impressive. The pulleys are milled from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum, which provides a lighter yet stronger piece of hardware. Couple this with anodized sheaves and sealed bearings and you have a highly efficient system at your disposal.

The patented locking system is the most impressive feature of the pulley system. The locking mechanism eliminates the use of a toothed cam or prusiks for capture and can easily be released under load with positive control for maximum safety. 

The pulleys also incorporate a thrust-bearing swivel, which reduces torque by aligning the pulleys with the load as well as eliminating twisting in the system for maximum efficiency. 

Although the side plates are fixed, which requires rope to be threaded through the pulleys, the addition of the side becket allows for easy change out of rescue rope even with sewn terminations.

The CSR2 pulley system is a great addition to any rescue cache’ especially when utilized as a pre-built block and tackle system. The efficiency of the system with ½” (12.5mm) rescue rope is well worth mentioning. The locking system is amazingly easy to operate and makes the transition from hauling to lowering under load seamless.

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Service Life Guidelines for Rescue Equipment

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Regardless of the stated service life, the condition of equipment–as determined through inspection by a qualified party – is a key factor in determining whether or not a piece of equipment is fit for service.

THIS INSPECTION PROCESS OFFERS GUIDELINES FOR KEEPING EQUIPMENT IN SERVICE OR RETIRING IT.

Depending on the manufacturer, you will find varying specifications for service life of rescue equipment. For example, Petzl specifically defines the “potential” service life of plastic or textile products to be no longer than 10 years. It states indefinite for metallic products. CMC, on the other hand, does not give specified times for their equipment stating, “The service life of equipment used for rescue depends greatly on the type of use and the environment of use. Because these factors vary greatly, a precise service life of the equipment cannot be provided.” However, in reference to harnesses, CMC’s cites ASTM F1740-96 as the industry standard for service life. SMC follows along the lines of CMC when stating the amount of time a product can stay in service.

Although the definition of “equipment lifespan” is very broad depending on the manufacturer, each will provide specific instructions on proper inspection of equipment and detailed explanations on when to the retire service item.

Most manufacturers follow the same general guidelines for removing equipment from service. Several general identifiers that pertain to all equipment are shown below. 

Download Roco's Quick Checklist for your convenience. →

REASONS FOR EQUIPMENT RETIREMENT INCLUDE:

  •   Item fails to pass any pre/post use or competent person inspection.
  •   Item has been subjected to a major fall or load.
  •   Item is constructed of plastic or textile material and is older than 10 years.
  •   You cannot determine the complete full-use history of item.
  •   You are not certain or have lost confidence in the equipment.

Most manufacturers will provide service for equipment items that are repairable. However, most caution against this because the cost of repair typically exceeds the cost of replacement. Any repairs attempted outside of the manufacturer may void any warranty and will release the manufacturer from any liability or responsibility. In addition, all manufacturers recommend destroying equipment once it has been retired from service to prevent items from inadvertently being recycled back into active service gear.

Manufacturers also provide indicators for different types of equipment that require it to be retired from service. These are not only capturing the general conditions mentioned above, but also bring in conditions that are specific to each category of equipment. It is important to identify these specific conditions as they are vital to the dependability and functionality of each component.

Harnesses:

Harnesses are one of the most vital components of life safety equipment. Without a certified harness in serviceable condition, the best life safety rope and hardware in pristine condition will do little to protect the user. All individuals who are required to wear harnesses to perform duties should be trained and authorized in the inspection process. Harnesses should be inspected before and after use as well as once annually by an individual deemed a competent person by the facility or department.

Since harnesses are a nylon product, they fall under the guidelines set forth by ASTM consensus standard F1740-96 and have a service life of 10 years. Manufacturers also state that hard or excessive use – as well as the conditions when a harness is used – may significantly reduce its service life. It is important to conduct routine inspections as well as keep records of harness use. This “usage” history could indicate signs that would require the equipment to be retired early.

Here are some conditions to help identify when it’s time to retire your life safety harness:

  •   The harness has surpassed 10 years since the manufacture date.
  •   Webbing shows signs of cuts, significantly worn or frayed areas, soft or hard spots.
  •   Webbing shows signs of discolored or melted fibers.
  •   Stitching shows signs of pulled threads, abrasion or breaks.
  •   Hardware shows signs of damage, sharp edges, excessive wear or improper function.
  •   If the harness has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads, or abuse.
  •   If there is any doubt about the integrity of the harness.
  • If the harness demonstrates any of these conditions, it should be removed from service and destroyed.

  • Life Safety Rope, Webbing, Anchor Straps, Accessory Cord:
       

Since these products are nylon or textile based as well, they fall under the same inspection process as harnesses. A complete inspection of life safety rope and associated products includes not only a visual inspection but a tactile (or touch) inspection as well. The tactile inspection should be done with tension on the rope, webbing or strap. 

The inspector is looking to identify any of the following conditions:

  •   Chafed, glazed or discolored surfaces (these areas should receive a more thorough inspection).
  •   Abrasions or cuts in the sheath where the core is exposed.
  •   Variation of diameter of the rope that could indicate potential damage to the core fibers.
  •   Soft or hard spots that could indicate core damage or that the fibers have been over stressed.
  •   If the rope has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads or abuse.

If any of these conditions are noted, then the item should be retired and destroyed immediately. It is important to remember that an accurate history should be maintained for all life safety rope products. The date of manufacture should be identified and recorded as products are being put into service. Equipment inspectors or users should ensure that these products do not exceed their service life. As with harnesses, the amount, type and conditions of use can drastically reduce the service life of these products.

Carabiners:

Since carabiners are metallic, they do not fall under the ASTM service life recommendation of 10 years. As long as these products are in serviceable condition and properly maintained, they have an infinite service life. Even though they do not have a dedicated service life term, it is still important to conduct the same pre/post use and annual inspections. 

Some conditions that would require the equipment, such as carabiners, to be retired from service include:

  •   Carabiner has been dropped a significant distance.
  •   Exposed to heat sufficient enough to alter the surface appearance.
  •   Cracks, distortion or deep gouges.
  •   Corrosion or deep pitted rust. (Note: Surface rust may be removed with a fine abrasive cloth and coated with a preservative such as LPS #1.)
  •   Sharp edges that could cause damage to life safety rope (minor edges may be smoothed with the same process as rust removal).
  •   Gate does not line up when closed.
  •   Gate action does not return to closed position when opened and released.
  •   Locking mechanism does not fully engage.
  •   Complete history of use cannot be determined.
  • If any of these conditions exist, the equipment should be removed from service and destroyed. Records of use and inspection should be kept on these items even though the service life of the product is infinite.
Pulleys:

Pulleys, as with carabiners, are metallic in construction and do not have a service life recommendation. They will also have an infinite service life as long as they are in serviceable condition and are properly maintained. Pulleys fall under the same inspection requirements as carabiners. 

Below are some conditions that would require such equipment to be removed from service:

  •   Pulley has been dropped a significant distance.
  •   Exposed to heat sufficient enough to alter the surface appearance.
  •   Cracks, dents or elongation at the carabiner hole on side plates.
  •   Corrosion or deep pitted rust. (Note: Surface rust may be removed with a fine abrasive cloth and coated with a preservative such as LPS #1.)
  •   Deep scratches or gouges to side plates or sheave(s).
  •   Sharp edges that could cause damage to life safety rope (minor edges may be smoothed with the same process as rust removal).
  •   Side plates that do not line up at the carabiner hole.
  •   Elongation of the side plates at the sheave pin.
  •   Side plates that do not move freely.
  •   Sheave does not turn freely or significantly rubs against side plate.
  •   If the item has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads or abuse.
  •   If the history of use or manufacture date cannot be determined.

If any of these conditions exist, the equipment should be removed from service and destroyed. Records of use and inspection should be kept on these items even though the service life of the product is infinite.

DeScent control devices:

Descent control devices, if metallic, do not have a service life recommendation. If the device is constructed of plastic or other textile material, it will have a service life not to exceed 10 years. 

Below are some conditions that would require this equipment to be removed from service:

  •   Cracks, deformations or elongation to any portion of the device.
  •   Corrosion or deep pitted rust. (Note: Surface rust may be removed with a fine abrasive cloth and coated with a preservative such as LPS #1.)
  •   Deep scratches or gouges to any portion of the device.
  •   Sharp edges that could cause damage to life safety rope (minor edges may be smoothed with the same process as rust removal).
  •   Excessive wear to friction surfaces or cam (see wear indicator on some devices).
  •   If the device has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads or abuse.
  •   If the history of use or manufacture date cannot be determined.

If any of these conditions exist, the equipment should be removed from service and destroyed. Records of use and inspection should be kept on these items throughout their service life.

Ascenders:

As with previously mentioned equipment, the same inspection procedures apply to ascenders. 

Below are some of the conditions that would require ascenders to be removed from service:

  •   Cracks, deformations or elongation to any portion of the device.
  •   Corrosion or deep pitted rust. (Note: Surface rust may be removed with a fine abrasive cloth and coated with a preservative such as LPS #1.)
  •   Deep scratches or gouges to any portion of the device.
  •   Sharp edges that could cause damage to life safety rope (minor edges may be smoothed with the same process as rust removal).
  •   Fouled teeth on cam (handled type ascenders).
  •   Excessive wear to surface of cam.
  •   Damage to rivets (if applicable).

If any of these conditions exist, the equipment should be removed from service and destroyed. Records of use and inspection should be kept on these items throughout their service life.

Service history is an extremely important part of ensuring life safety equipment is properly maintained and that service life is not exceeded. Not only does this help rescue teams control inventory and operational capability of equipment by documenting each use and inspection, it also assists the teams in forecasting budget costs for the replacement of items that are nearing the end of their service life.

Maintaining records of the manufacturer’s information received when purchasing new equipment is vital to identifying and keeping track of the manufacture date. It is also important to keep this information on file for the exact procedures for inspecting and removing equipment from service. If the manufacture date of equipment, such as life safety rope and harnesses, cannot be identified; it poses extreme liability for agencies or facilities whose teams may potentially be operating with equipment that has passed its service life. It could also create a compromise in the safe operation of the equipment. Also, if record-keeping of equipment inspection and use is not a primary focus, it could potentially expose team members to operating with unsafe equipment due to abuse or excessive/extreme conditions that go undetected.

All team members should be qualified and knowledgeable enough to perform pre- and post-use inspections of equipment. It is crucial that all members document each use of equipment, denote any deficiencies, and report to the proper person. One person should be designated to perform the competent person annual inspection. This person should have complete knowledge of the equipment and inspection procedures as well as the authority to keep or remove equipment from service as they see fit. If team members are unable to fill this role, a qualified third party with applicable manufacturer certifications in competent person inspection should be brought in to assist in determining the condition and estimated service life of rescue equipment. For assistance from our rescue equipment professionals, call us at 800-647-7626.

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Annual Equipment Inspections for Rescue Teams

Monday, September 14, 2015

Roco is now offering an on-site inspection service for rescue gear used by emergency response teams. Save time and manpower by having our rescue professionals perform your annual equipment inspections.

Benefits include:

    • • Certified personnel to inspect equipment to manufacturer's standards
    • • Inspection documentation from an independent third party
    • • Frees your personnel from the responsibility of equipment inspections

This service will include a “sight and touch” functional inspection of hardware, nylon products (including rope, webbing, and anchoring components), harnesses, and accessory equipment (including litters and stretchers) utilized in confined space/high angle applications. The inspection will be conducted in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and will satisfy the requirement for an annual1 inspection by a competent person.

Reporting documentation will include pertinent information such as the manufacturer, product number, and serial/lot number (where applicable), date of manufacture, and in-service date (when available). It will also include the results of pass/fail testing for both visual and functional inspection. All equipment deemed unsuitable for use will be tagged for removal from service. 

A full report of findings will be provided to include storage conditions, accessibility of equipment to responders, and any other recommendations to improve overall team performance. 

Rescue team members are encouraged to attend this inspection where they will receive information on proper pre- and post-use inspections for their equipment. Guidance can be also offered in areas of equipment care, inspection, record-keeping, and proper storage. Please note that equipment recommendations will NOT be provided unless requested to do so.

For more information or to schedule dates, call us at 800-647-7626 or email info@RocoRescue.com.


References include: 1926.502 Appendix C; ANSI Z359.2 Section 5.5.2 Inspections; ASTM Rope Inspection Guide; NFPA 1983 Section 5.2; ANSI Z359.11 Annex A (harnesses); and ANSI Z359.4 Section 6.1.

NOTICE: The client remains responsible for ensuring that all guidelines and requirements for maintaining and, where indicated, removal of equipment from service, are followed. This includes removing equipment from service anytime there is a situation or incident that occurs during handling, training, or rescue, that might have caused damage or otherwise compromised the integrity of the equipment, particularly where internal damage that is not visible might be present (e.g. equipment dropped from height, exposure of nylon products to chemicals or other potentially degrading substances, etc.). Client will be required to complete a certification that between Roco inspections, the equipment was properly stored, was available only to personnel trained to use the equipment properly, and that any equipment that was exposed to any condition or occurrence that could have resulted in hidden damage has been removed from service. A company representative, preferably someone from the rescue team, must be present during the inspection process.


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Firefighter Council Releases PPE Guidance Videos

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The National Volunteer Fire Council has released six new videos on the proper use and maintenance of personal protective equipment for firefighters.

The short videos, available on both NVFC's YouTube channel and its equipment resources webpage, cover the following topics: The importance of PPE during overhaul, PPE cleaning guidelines, Guidance on replacing PPE, Protective clothing and equipment standards, Securing grants for PPE and New PPE regulatory standards. 

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Quick-Connect Harness Buckle Safety

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Recently, we noticed a story in a leading safety and health magazine that questions the “two-piece, pass-through buckle” that is commonly used on many harnesses. The author, in fact, referred to it as a design flaw. However, we consider it more a matter of improper use than a design flaw. While he does identify some potential user failures, we feel his terming is not quite accurate. Here’s why...

As with any life support equipment, it is imperative to use the equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions for use and receive the appropriate training as required. The author cites instances where he has observed the mating plate of the two-piece, pass-through buckle being improperly oriented which can lead to the buckle loosening and potentially disconnecting. He also suggests that the pass-through plate have some type of “visual indicator” to warn the user when the buckle is improperly connected. Of course, we’re always in favor of additional safety features!

While this may be viewed as a matter of semantics, consider the following analogy… almost every outboard motorboat has one or sometimes multiple drain plugs in the transom well to provide drainage once the boat is pulled out of the water. If the skipper forgets to re-install the drain plugs the next time the boat is launched, the transom well will fill with water, which could lead to swamping. So, is this a design flaw, or improper use? From an equipment designer/manufacturer’s point of view, the use of this terminology could be very significant.

With the many advances in life safety equipment, we have seen harnesses and other rescue/safety equipment become more convenient, lighter, multifunctional, and overall safer than earlier generations. As with many product advances and improvements, there may be compromise in one area but advances in many others. In this case, the speed and ease of donning and doffing a Class III rescue or fall protection harness by using some type of quick-connect buckle. Of course, the user must ensure that the buckle is used correctly.

The pass-through buckle has been around a very long time. In fact, a Croll sport climbing sit harness that I bought in 1981 had this type buckle. These buckles were also used in the past on the leg loops on Roco harnesses. There are minor variations on the design of the buckle with some having slots to ease the pass-through of the top plate, while others do not have this slot.

There are important requirements for the safe use of these buckles, which include:

1.  Make sure the buckle is adjusted tightly enough to ensure constant tension is applied to the top plate against the fixed plate.

2.  Be sure that the top plate is not inverted.

3.  Double check that the tail end of the webbing does not pass through the “fixed plate” but instead lays parallel with the anchored section of the webbing.

These three user points of performance are easily completed. Our extensive experience with this type of buckle tells us that it’s a convenient and safe buckle when used as it was designed. As always, carefully check and re-check your gear before life-loading!

Information from article by Robert Peterson published by OH&S Online - www.ohsonline.com.


 

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New “No-Step” Work-Rescue Harness from Roco & CMC


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Imagine donning a Class III harness in as little as 8 seconds!
That’s just one of the many features of the new CMC/Roco Work-Rescue Harness.


Because of its innovative “no-step” donning, comfort fit and lightweight design, this new harness will appeal to rescuers, rope access technicians, tower climbers, and other professionals working in the vertical environment.

Our design team (aka Roco instructors) joined up with CMC’s engineering and fabrication team to create this new Class III harness with a “no-step-through” design. The harness literally wraps around your body as you don it. After the initial webbing adjustment, it is then fitted to the user with no need to re-adjust the various straps when you re-don the harness. This unique feature allows a user to don the harness and be ready to go in as little as 8 seconds. Compare this to donning a standard Class III where the user has to step through the waist and leg loops, then tighten the buckles and stow the straps. Not to mention when a “dreaded half twist” is discovered in one of the straps requiring the wearer to start all over again.

The CMC/Roco Work-Rescue Harness features comfortable wear especially while suspended. The lightweight proprietary CMC alloy D-Rings reduce the overall weight of the harness, while the addition of a rated attachment point at the back of the waist belt allows for a convenient connection to a fall restraint lanyard.

The harness has many advantages for work-at-height professionals. For rope access technicians, the top of the A-Frame lift is designed to accept a variety of connectors for anchoring chest ascenders. It also includes a closed loop on the chest H-Frame to mount a chest ascender adjustable tow strap.

Tower climbers will benefit from the vertical orientation of the sternal D-Ring, which eliminates binding of ladder safety system cable grabs during down climbs. The sternal D-Ring has a quick release stowage strap that keeps the ring tucked neatly against the chest when not in use.

The harness features ergonomic curves and pre-formed moldings for user comfort and durability while maintaining a modern look. It also incorporates breathable padding on the interior surfaces to reduce heat retention. The dorsal and shoulder pads are a one-piece design created by a vacuum molding process, making it comfortable without sacrificing form for ease of donning.

The Fall Arrest Indicator is another great safety feature available on this harness. The visual on the tag alerts the user if the harness has had a previous fall. 






"Creating a harness that is easier and quicker to don provides a great advantage for rope professionals. The new CMC/Roco Work-Rescue Harness literally wraps around the user's body…once donned and adjusted, it’s then ‘custom fit’ to your body,” according to Chief Instructor Pat Furr, who led Roco’s design team. 

For more information on the CMC/Roco Work-Rescue Harness, or to place your order now, click here.

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Q&A: Sked Stretcher - Is a Backboard Required?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

READER QUESTION:
Can a patient be lowered in a vertical or horizontal Sked without being lashed to a backboard or without a backboard at all?

ROCO TECH PANEL RESPONSE:

The answer is YES! This is one of the advantages of choosing the Sked stretcher.


It can be used with most (if not all) backboards, with a short spine immobilizer, or with nothing at all.

There are two general considerations in deciding what device to use with the Sked or other flexible litters:

(1) Patient Condition - If spinal injuries or other injuries need the splinting effects or the protection of a backboard, then the victim should be lashed to a backboard. When a backboard is not in place, the Sked will help keep the body in line when tightened; however, the spine can continue to be manipulated up and down as patient is moved over objects or edges which can compromise the spine.

If you are just using the backboard to keep the Sked rigid or protect the patient while placing them over edges, then technically you would not need to lash them to the backboard.

When a confined space is too tight to use a backboard and possible spinal injuries are suspected, or additional protection for placing a patient over an edge is wanted, then a short spinal immobilizer such as the OSS can be used. If a spinal injury is not suspected, then no additional equipment needs to be used with the Sked. It is always good to keep in mind, however, that the thin plastic make-up of the Sked will allow the patient to feel every edge or bump you place or drag them over.


(2) Location
- What size portal do you need to get the patient and packaging through in order to perform the rescue? Many times in portals less than 18-inches, the individual pieces of equipment will fit into the space, but once put together they will not fit back out of the space. The Sked was designed for this specific circumstance. The thin plastic construction allows it to fit in places many other litters will not.

The Sked can also be used vertically with the bottom not curled and secured in cases where a hare-traction splint or other injury doesn’t allow securement at the bottom.

The Sked is a very user-friendly device that can be used in a multitude of configurations and for various applications. This is one of the reasons why it is such a popular rescue tool, especially for confined space rescue! Stay safe!


NOTICE: The information provided on our website and by our Tech Panel is a complimentary service for our readers. Responses are based on our understanding of the reader’s inquiry, the equipment and/or the technique in question. All rescue systems should be evaluated by a competent person before use in the support of any human loads. Proper training is required prior to use of rescue techniques or systems discussed. Because standards and regulations are typically performance based and often dependent on specific circumstances, it is important to review all regulations in their entirety and to follow the proper protocols for your company or organization.

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RescueTalk (RocoRescue.com) has been created as a free resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and others who are interested in technical rope rescue. Therefore, we make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Users and readers are 100% responsible for their own actions in every situation. Information presented on this website in no way replaces proper training!