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New Study: Relying on Municipal Rescuers for Confined Space Response

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A study on the “reliance of municipal fire departments for confined space response” has been funded by a legal settlement following the deaths of two workers in a confined space incident in California.Research by the University of California, Berkeley, indicates that employers may be relying too heavily on local fire departments for confined space rescue.

These findings indicate that local fire departments may not have the resources to provide the specialized training needed for confined space rescue, especially when "response and rescue" times are such critical factors.


Key Points from Study


•  Confined space incidents represent a small but continuing source of fatal occupational injuries;

•  A sizeable portion of employers may be relying on public fire departments for permit-required confined space response; and,

•  With life-threatening emergencies, fire departments usually are not able to effect a confined space rescue in a timely manner.


Municipal Response Statistics


The study includes some very interesting statistics about fire department response times, rescue times, and capabilities. It also shows that rescue times increase dramatically when hazardous materials are present. For example, according to the report, fire department confined space rescue time estimates ranged from 48 to 123 min and increased to 70 and 173 min when hazardous materials were present.

According to the report, “estimates made by fire officers show that a worker who experiences cardiac arrest, deprivation of cerebral oxygen, or some other highly time-critical, life-threatening emergency during a confined space entry will almost certainly die if the employer’s emergency response plan relies solely on the fire department for rescue services.”

Researchers proposed that a more appropriate role for fire departments would be to support a properly trained and equipped on-site rescue team and to provide life support following a rescue.

Information excerpted from, “Confined Space Emergency Response: Assessing Employer and Fire Department Practices,” by Michael P. Wilson, Heather N. Madison & Stephen B. Healy (2012). This study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (Feb 2012) and is available for purchase from Taylor & Francis Online.

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Ratqa Rescue Team’s Commendable Rescue Effort

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Since 1999, Roco has had the opportunity to train and equip rescue teams in Kuwait. The first team that we trained was the Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC) Fire Officers that were assigned to three refineries located south of Kuwait City.  In 2001, Ratqa Contracting was tasked with providing a Technical Rescue Team at the same refineries and Roco provided the Technician Level training for this new team.

The Ratqa Rescue Team is comprised of contracted Filipino’s with the oversight of a Kuwaiti Rescue Officer. Management is committed to making sure the team receives Rescue Technician recertification every two years from Roco.

Two of our instructors from New Mexico, Tim Robson and Rich Pohl, have been the predominant instructors for this 19 member team over the years.  Both agree that this is one of the most competent and dedicated rescue teams they have ever taught.

On a recent recertification trip, Rich and Tim were made aware of an event by Lead Rescue Officer/Coordinator Mohammed Al-Raqum and Fire Officer Khalid Al-Habri. Both officers wanted to recognize the efforts of the team for an exemplary response to an unfortunate event. Both Rich and Tim thought this would be the perfect forum to recognize this excellent Rescue Team.

In October 2011, the team was responsible for the removal of 4 victims that had succumbed to H2S in a PRCS that was 15-feet deep by 20-feet wide. The space was extremely congested and had over 15 different process lines. It included a 5-ft diameter by 20-ft high tank. The workers had originally entered the space to remove a skillet blind when there was an accidental release of H2S.  During the investigation, it was determined that KNPC policies and procedures had not been adhered to and the entry team did not have a permit nor did they perform atmospheric monitoring prior to entering the space.

The Ratqa Rescue Team on duty at the time of the incident was located approximately 10 minutes away at a neighboring refinery. Immediately, the Rescue Team Leader terminated their current standby operations and responded within 6 minutes to the scene by utilizing a “short cut” which minimized response time by 4 minutes.

Upon arrival, the Rescue Team did a scene size-up and then created a response plan with the Rescue Officer, which took approximately 3 minutes (atmospheric readings detected 120 ppm of H2S). Two vertical hauling systems were anchored, and Rescuer 1 donned an SCBA and made entry. Three victims were removed within 6 minutes via tied full-body harnesses and were found to be pulseless. Because of this, the Rescue Officer and Rescue Team Leader decided to convert to a “body recovery” mode for the 4th victim. Rescuer 1 was relieved and sent to rehabilitate. Rescuer 2 donned an SCBA and made entry into the space. Considerable time was needed to extricate the 4th victim due to numerous process lines that ranged in diameter from ½” to 4 inches. From initial dispatch to termination of recovery took 51 minutes. In addition, the outside temperature was 101 degrees Fahrenheit at the time.

Rescue Response Timeline:
Initial Dispatch to arrival on scene – 6 minutes
Scene Size-up / Hazard Recognition / Rescue Plan – 3 minutes
Rescuer 1 enters space and removes 3 victims – 6 minutes
Rescuer 1 exits space / Response-mode revised to Recovery mode– 21 minutes
Rescuer 2 enters and removes entrapped 4th victim – 15 minutes
Outside Temperature: 101-degrees F
Overall Time: 51 minutes

We commend the team for its rescue response capabilities and for dealing with this unfortunate incident in such a timely and professional manner. It has been our pleasure to work with these emergency responders over the years.
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Lock-Out / Tag-Out: What Rescuers Need to Know

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"The concept of LOTO is a great one and it works. As rescuers, we have to take the common industrial application and expand it to ensure that the rescue scene is safe and that we are controlling hazards at the point of contact with the victim or in a space where something has gone very wrong," says Dennis O'Connell, Chief Instructor and Director of Training for Roco Rescue.

Although commonly referred to as the “Lock-out/Tag-out” (LOTO) standard, the actual title of 1910.147 is “The Control of Hazardous Energy.” This title probably better describes it's true purpose -- and there's no doubt that the understanding of this concept has saved many lives and prevented countless injuries.

The LOTO standard “covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the energizing or start-up of the machines or equipment, or release of stored energy, could harm employees.” It establishes OSHA’s minimum performance requirements for the control of such hazardous energy [Ref: 1910.147(a)(1)(i)].

The general concept of LOTO is that energy sources affecting the area in which servicing or maintenance is occurring are identified and locked in the “Off” position, or in the case of mechanical hazards, linkages are disconnected for the duration of the work. Some type of lock or device is placed on the equipment by those performing the work.

However, we’ve found that if you ask different people to define LOTO, you will get a variety of answers. Not only will you get different definitions, you’ll also get varying information as to how and when LOTO is to be used and who is actually allowed to place locks or controls during the LOTO process. OSHA CFR 1910.147(b) has a very narrow and specific definition of who can perform lock-out or tag-out operations. That definition does not include rescuers; and, actually, there is good reason for that.

If you ask emergency responders about LOTO, you’ll generally find that their definition has been expanded well past the “control of hazardous energy” to cover most rescue operations. This expanded safety mindset serves to protect both the rescuer(s) and the victim(s) from additional harm following an incident. Rescuers usually define LOTO as “making the scene safe; or controlling and keeping machinery from moving or shifting during a rescue.”

Unlike standard LOTO, which is usually a systems’ approach, rescuers are generally trying to control the environment near an entrapped victim. As rescuers, we often act outside the parameters of a LOTO procedure that may already be in place. Because rescuers would best be defined under “affected employees” in a rescue where a LOTO procedure is in place, we need to understand what OSHA CFR 1910.147(b) says about “authorized employees” and “affected employees.”

Authorized employee. A person who locks out or tags out machines or equipment in order to perform servicing or maintenance on that machine or equipment. An affected employee becomes an authorized employee when that employee's duties include performing servicing or maintenance covered under this section.

Caveman translation: A person that the employer says has the systems or mechanical knowledge and authority to safely lockout/tagout a machine or space.

Affected employee. An employee whose job requires him/her to operate or use a machine or equipment on which servicing or maintenance is being performed under lock-out or tag-out, or whose job requires him/her to work in an area in which such servicing or maintenance is being performed.

Caveman translation: I have to work in an area where LOTO is in place.

A nice definition can be found in 54FR36665 in the promulgation of the Control of Hazardous Energy Standard...

“...an ‘affected employee’ is one who does not perform the servicing... but whose responsibilities are performed in an area in which the energy control procedure is implemented and servicing operations are performed under that procedure. The affected employee does not need to know how to perform lock-out or tag-out, nor does that employee need to be trained in the detailed implementation of the energy control procedure. Rather, the affected employee need only be able to recognize when the energy control procedure is being implemented, to identify the locks or tags being used, and to understand the purpose of the procedure and the importance of not attempting to start up or use the equipment, which has been locked out or tagged out.”

There is good reason for these prohibitions. Improperly performed LOTO can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than no LOTO at all. Allowing LOTO to be performed by personnel who are not familiar with the processes and equipment to be locked out increases the chances of improper lock-out. The requirement that only employees actually performing the servicing and maintenance of equipment are allowed to lock out equipment is less of a concern for rescuers than may first appear – and here’s why.

Typically, the person being rescued from a space that has hazardous energy sources is someone who has already performed LOTO. If that person performed LOTO properly and the reason for the rescue is something other than exposure to a hazardous energy source, the rescuers are not exposed because the victim obviously cannot remove his lock while he is being rescued. If the victim performed the LOTO improperly and the rescuers discover the error, the rescuers can then lock-out the equipment as they see fit or as the rescue needs dictate without violating the standard because they are not locking out the equipment as part of the LOTO program. They are locking the equipment out as part of making the area safe for rescue operations.

The Consequences: Worker's Amputation in Turkey Shackle Leads to $318,000 Proposed Fine


OSHA initiated an inspection after the July 20, 2011, incident, in which the employee’s arm allegedly became caught in an energized turkey shackle line while the employee was working alone in a confined space.

 Jan 24, 2012 - OSHA cited the company for 11 safety violations at its Wisconsin facility after a worker’s arm was amputated below the shoulder while the individual was conducting cleaning activities in a confined space. Proposed fines total $318,000. “The company has a legal responsibility to follow established permit-required confined space regulations to ensure that its employees are properly protected from known workplace hazards,” said Mark Hysell, director of OSHA’s Eau Claire Area Office.

  “Failing to ensure protection through appropriate training and adherence to OSHA regulations led to a worker losing an arm.”

OSHA initiated an inspection after the July 20, 2011, incident, in which the employee’s arm allegedly became caught in an energized turkey shackle line while the employee was working alone in a confined space. Afterward, the employee had to walk down a flight of 25 stairs and 200 feet across the production floor to get the attention of a co-worker for assistance.

Four willful violations involve not following OSHA’s permit-required confined space regulations in the carbon dioxide tunnel room, including failing to ensure that workers isolated the carbon dioxide gas supply line and locked out power to the shackle line prior to entering the room to conduct cleaning activities, verify that electro-mechanical and atmospheric hazards within the room were eliminated prior to workers entering the space, test atmospheric conditions prior to allowing entry, and provide an attendant during entries to the room.

Seven serious violations involve failing to provide fall protection, provide rescue and emergency services equipment, develop procedures to summon rescue and emergency

services, provide confined space entry procedures, prepare entry permits for the confined space, train employees and supervisors in entry permit procedures, and ensure that the entry supervisor performed required duties. This spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Another Six-Figure OSHA Fine for LOTO Death

 Dec 14, 2011 - OSHA announced it has cited a Missouri recycling facility for 37 safety and health violations following an inspection opened after a worker died from injuries sustained June 12 when he entered a baling machine to clear a jam and the machine became energized. Proposed fines total $195,930.

 Twenty-two serious safety violations have been filed, including failing to lock out and tag out the energy sources of equipment and install adequate machine guarding; fall protection; exits; flammable liquids; fire extinguishers; powered industrial trucks; and welding and electrical equipment. Eight serious health violations were cited, as was a one repeat safety violation relating to defective powered industrial trucks that were not taken out of service. The company was cited in April 2010 for a similar violation, according to OSHA.

As rescuers we need to be aware that the LOTO standard applies to general industry operations and DOES NOT apply to the following:


  •     Construction;
  •     Agriculture;
  •     Shipyards;
  •     Marine Terminals;
  •     Long shoring;
  •     Installations under the exclusive control of electric utilities for the purpose of power generation, transmission and distribution, including related equipment for communication or metering;
  •     Oil and gas well drilling and servicing;
  •     Exposure to electrical hazards from work on, near, or with conductors or equipment in electric-utilization installations, which is covered by subpart S of the general industry standards;
  •     Hot tap operations;
  •     Continuity of service is essential;
  •     Shutdown of system is impractical.
For some of the above operations, applicable regulations provide for procedures specific to the industry which, if followed, should provide proven effective protection for employees. However, rescuers need to be aware that activities in these areas not covered by OSHA’s LOTO standard could have uncontrolled energy sources. As we often say, “if everything had been done properly, we probably wouldn’t be responding as rescuers.”

In accordance with OSHA regulations, a LOTO program is a documented plan for safe work practices when dealing with energy sources. Prior to work commencing, potential sources of hazardous energy must be identified and controlled. Under certain circumstances where energy sources cannot be “locked out,” warning tags may be used. As responders, we do not have the luxury of studying blueprints and schematics to identify how to isolate the hazard. In fact, we’re most often responding to incidents that had a LOTO system in place that turned out to be ineffective or improperly used.

Rescue Scenario Examples


Rescuers were called to an incident in which a worker was trapped inside a confined space (a taffy mixing machine) that was supposed to be locked out. The machine suddenly activated; however, and the worker was seriously injured by the mixing blades. Employees on scene who initially locked out the equipment could not figure out where they erred – and they didn’t know how to prevent it from reoccurring as rescuers prepared to enter the space.

Not wanting to become victims themselves, the rescuers quickly considered several options to make the vessel safe for entry. They considered tying the blades so they couldn’t move, or wedging the blades against the side walls of the vessel, or disconnecting the motor. Because the patient was bleeding profusely, time was critical and all of these options would have taken too long. The rescuers ultimately opted to kill the power to the entire building, making the space safe for rescuers to enter. Fortunately, it was an option in this case. It may not have been an option where doing so would require shutting down an entire operating unit in a refinery or other industrial facility.

Another Incident during a Roco CSRT Stand-by


Another case of LOTO “gone bad” occurred during a Roco CSRT stand-by job at a local industrial plant. After LOTO had supposedly been performed, one of our team members happened to push the “Start” button as a test on a hyper bar in a tank – it turned “On!” Further investigation revealed that electrical work had been done in the area and the fuse lock-out was moved to another box adjacent to its original location. No one had notified the workers or changed the written protocol. Workers were locking out the wrong circuit! Had this been a rescue, how would rescuers control the hazard without knowing where the problem was with the LOTO?

Often overlooked, but another huge consideration for rescuers, is stored energy. OSHA identifies these hazards and provides a pretty good list of examples to be aware of when responding. It includes stored or residual energy in capacitors, springs, elevated machine members, rotating flywheels, hydraulic systems, and air, gas, steam, or water pressure, etc. Rescuers need equipment and techniques to control, restrain, dissipate, and immobilize these hazards. We also need the skills to manually isolate the area where the victim is located.

For general work operations, referring to LOTO as the placing of locks or tags or the removal of key controls may be sufficient. However, for rescuers, this alone may not provide adequate protection if those controls do not work or were never used.

From a rescuer’s viewpoint, our definition and options for effective LOTO needs to include other equipment and techniques that provide a safe area for rescue operations and to prevent further harm to the victim. This includes equipment that is used every day in the municipal rescue world that may not typically be found in an industrial facility. This includes equipment such as hydraulic spreaders and high pressure air bags. Even simple tools, such as metal wedges, can be used to isolate and protect the hand or arm of a victim trapped in a piece of machinery. The key is to determine your current capabilities and to identify what you may need prior to an incident occurring.

Municipal and industrial rescuers get called to a wide variety of rescues – each with its own unique problems and solutions. As we all know, the number of ways people can get themselves in harm’s way is unlimited! In all entrapment incidents, however, it is essential that we protect both the victim and ourselves from further injury and limit our exposure to the hazards that are present. In every incident, rescuers must first identify the hazards and try to eliminate or control them in every way possible.

Many times, as rescuers, we find ourselves using rudimentary “lock out” techniques. For example, when responding to stuck, occupied elevators in New York, we would access the control room, pull the power disconnect and use our handcuffs to lock it in the disconnect position. This was to prevent someone from turning the power back on while we were working in the shaft to free the victims from the elevator.

On more serious elevator rescues where the cables were slack, additional lock-out was achieved by using rated rescue rope/chains or cables to secure the elevator car so that it could not move up or down. Even during auto extrications, we would disconnect the battery to reduce the chances of an airbag deploying as well as not positioning ourselves between a rigid surface and an airbag.

Machine entrapment rescues are another all too common situation in which responders need to isolate the area at the point of contact with the patient to prevent further movement. In some cases, we have used wood or metal wedges to prevent further crushing, or chains, hydraulic tools, or cables to lock the machinery in place. And, rescuers beware... sometimes what sounds like a simple solution – such as turning off a machine – can do more harm if the machine normally recycles before coming to a resting position.

In Conclusion


From these examples, you can see that rescuers need to look deeper into their toolbox of techniques for creative options to isolate energy sources in order to protect themselves as well as the victim. And, this doesn’t just apply to municipal rescuers either. Industrial rescue teams are very likely to be called when an emergency like this occurs within your facility. In order to be proactive and prepared, take the time in advance to evaluate your response capabilities as well as that of local responders in your immediate area. Every minute is critical for that person trapped or injured.
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OSHA Violation Penalties on the Rise

Friday, January 13, 2012

According to statistics recently reported by OSHA, the number of workplace inspections conducted by federal OSHA in Fiscal Year 2011 fell to a total of 40,215, down 778 from 2010.  The agency attributes this slight decline in the number of inspections to the fact that many inspections, particularly those focused on health hazards and record keeping compliance, require more time per inspection.

Double the Penalties from OSHA Last Year

“Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.”
– Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis


According to statistics recently reported by OSHA, the number of workplace inspections conducted by federal OSHA in Fiscal Year 2011 fell to a total of 40,215, down 778 from 2010.  The agency attributes this slight decline in the number of inspections to the fact that many inspections, particularly those focused on health hazards and record keeping compliance, require more time per inspection.

OSHA Doubles Violation Penalties in 2011

Despite the fewer number of inspections, the size of enforcement actions (penalties) is increasing.  The average OSHA penalty per Serious violation in 2011 increased to $2,132, more than doubling from 2010’s average of $1,053.  In the last year of the Bush administration, 2008, that average was $998.

OSHA’s increase in the size of penalties and the number of Significant Cases can be traced back to key changes that OSHA made to its Field Operations Manual in October 2010.  For instance, OSHA doubled the minimum penalty for Serious violations, limited the Area Offices’ freedom to reduce penalties during settlement conferences, and reduced allowable penalty reductions for clean OSHA history (and required more years without past violations to be eligible for a clean history penalty reduction).

Roco Rescue Preplans can help detect confined space safety violations before OSHA visits your site. Find out more by calling 800-647-7626.
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On-Duty Firefighter Fatalities Down from 2010: USFA

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recently announced there were 81 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States as a result of incidents that occurred in 2011. This represents an almost seven percent decrease from the 87 fatalities reported for 2010. The 81 fatalities occurred in 33 states, one U.S. territory, and one overseas U.S.military facility. Texas experienced the highest number of fatalities (seven).

North Carolina experienced six firefighter deaths and was the only other state with five or more firefighter fatalities.Heart attacks were responsible for the deaths of 48 firefighters (59 percent) in 2011, nearly the same proportion of firefighter deaths from heart attack or stroke (60 percent) in 2010.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recently announced there were 81 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States as a result of incidents that occurred in 2011. This represents an almost seven percent decrease from the 87 fatalities reported for 2010. The 81 fatalities occurred in 33 states, one U.S. territory, and one overseas U.S. military facility. Texas experienced the highest number of fatalities (seven). North Carolina experienced six firefighter deaths and was the only other state with five or more firefighter fatalities.

“In 2004 at the initial Life Safety Summit, a number of fire service leaders did not believe we would complete a calendar year with less than 100 firefighter on-duty deaths,” U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell said. “We broke through that perceived barrier in 2009, 2010, and now in 2011. We salute and congratulate our fire service family and pledge to continue working closely with the entire fire service community and its partners to maintain and even accelerate this downward trend in on-duty firefighter deaths.”

Heart attacks were responsible for the deaths of 48 firefighters (59 percent) in 2011, nearly the same proportion of firefighter deaths from heart attack or stroke (60 percent) in 2010. Ten on-duty firefighters died in association with wildland fires, the lowest number of annual firefighter deaths associated with wildland fires since 1996. Fifty-four percent of all firefighter fatalities occurred while performing emergency duties. Three firefighters were killed in vehicle collisions.
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RESCUE IV-ADVANCED SCENARIOS

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

We’ve had so many requests for “advanced-level scenario training” that we’ve added Rescue IV to our 2011 schedule. You can add new techniques to your rescue toolbox while putting your problem-solving skills to the test.Challenging confined space and high-angle evolutions, including Roco’s“Yellow Brick Road” multi-station scenario, will give rescuers and rescue teams the most realistic rescue experience possible. This 40-hour course will challenge participants in a wide variety of confined space and high angle rescue scenarios.

RESCUE IV – ADVANCED SCENARIOS (40 hours)
Prerequisite: Rescue I-Plus or Industrial I/II

Challenging confined space and high-angle evolutions, including Roco’s “Yellow Brick Road” multi-station scenario, will give rescuers and rescue teams the most realistic rescue experience possible. This 40-hour course will challenge participants in a wide variety of confined space and high angle rescue scenarios.Advanced problem-solving skills and additional techniques will equip rescuers to function more effectively in time-critical emergency situations. This 40-hour course will challenge individual rescuers and rescue teams in a wide variety of confined space and high angle rescue scenarios. These scenarios will increase in complexity to include simulated IDLH and non-IDLH atmospheres, using both SCBA and SAR air equipment. For training conducted at Roco’s training facility, practice scenarios will be completed in all six (6) types of representative confined spaces. At other sites, the number of types completed will depend on the availability of practice spaces.This course will provide documented confined space practice scenarios in accordance with OSHA 1910.146 and as referenced in NPFA 1006.

OSHA 1910.146(k)(2)(iv)

Ensure that affected employees practice making permit space rescues at least once every 12 months, by means of simulated rescue operations in which they remove dummies, manikins, or actual persons from the actual permit spaces or from representative permit spaces. Representative permit spaces shall, with respect to opening size, configuration, and accessibility, simulate the types of permit spaces from which rescue is to be performed.

NFPA 1006 A.3.3.38 Confined Space Type

Figure A.3.3.38* shows predefined types of confined spaces normally found in an industrial setting. Classifying spaces by “types” can be used to prepare a rescue training plan to include representative permit spaces for simulated rescue practice as specified by OSHA. (*Roco Confined Space Types Chart)
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Corpus Christi Firefighters Save Man Trapped in Grain Bin

Friday, November 04, 2011

How do you rescue a man stuck in grain to just above his waist?  Very carefully — and slowly — said Corpus Christi, Texas, firefighters who built a special wooden box that enclosed the trapped man. They were then able to lower the grain level around the worker enough to pull him to safety, hours after he became stuck in a grain elevator. Thirty firefighters, rotating in teams, spent about five hours in the delicate rescue effort at the Corpus Christi Grain Co., said Assistant Fire Chief Randy Paige.

CNN reported this dramatic grain rescue by the Corpus Christi Fire Department back in April. OSHA has just announced significant penalties and multiple violations for theTexas grain company. Here’s more…

How do you rescue a man stuck in grain to just above his waist?  Very carefully — and slowly — said Corpus Christi, Texas, firefighters who built a special wooden box that enclosed the trapped man. They were then able to lower the grain level around the worker enough to pull him to safety, hours after he became stuck in a grain elevator. Thirty firefighters, rotating in teams, spent about five hours in the delicate rescue effort at the Corpus Christi Grain Co., said Assistant Fire Chief Randy Paige.

The 50-year-old unidentified man was alone inside the grain elevator when he became stuck, said Paige, who did not know what the employee was doing inside or what variety of grain was in the structure. The man was discovered more than an hour later by co-workers, and the rescue began, with a successful conclusion around 8:30 p.m. The man was taken Wednesday night to a local hospital for observation and was in stable condition, Paige told CNN. The man did not complain of injuries.

Firefighters who arrived on the scene opened a hatch on the side of the round elevator, which is about 100 feet in diameter and about 75 feet tall, officials said. They could see the employee who was a few feet above ground level in the tank. He also was standing above valves that release grain to an area below ground, Paige said. As they got to work, they also saw that the grain rose in a “V” shape along the tank’s walls to about 50 feet above the worker, who was in the middle of the elevator, Paige said.

“This stuff is real fine and granular and he was unable to move,” the chief said. Crews used plywood to build wood shoring that was about the shape of a small closet. They put it in position around the employee. When they opened the valve, the grain dropped and they were able to pluck the employee to safety. “We had to be very careful and slow at this,” said Paige. “We were worried about an avalanche effect.”

The fire official was proud of his team, which had three members inside the tank at all times. They had to deal with warm temperatures and were able to get fluids, by water and intravenously, to the trapped man. “Luckily, the dust was not too bad.” It all came down to training and resourcefulness, Paige said.

What were the other options? Plan B called for using a hoisting device at the top of the elevator, but crews were worried about the stress on the employee’s body if they tried to pull him up. Plan C involved a vacuum truck that would have removed the grain.”Luckily, Plan A worked on this one,” said Paige.

OSHA has cited Corpus Christi Grain Co. in Corpus Christi, Texas, for six willful and 20 serious violations with total proposed penalties of $258,900. OSHA‘s Corpus Christi Area Office initiated its inspection at the company’s facility after it was reported that a worker was engulfed while emptying grain from a storage bin. The employee was rescued due to the exceptional efforts of the Corpus Christi Fire Department.

“Employees working in grain storage buildings are exposed to dangerous conditions, and proper safety measures must be taken,” said Michael Rivera, director of OSHA’sCorpus Christi office. “If OSHA’s standards were followed, it is possible this unfortunate incident could have been avoided.”

The willful violations include failing to provide personal protective equipment, such as a body harness and life line, for employees working with stored grain; perform lockout/tagout procedures for the energy sources of equipment, such as augers and conveyors, while workers are inside the grain bins; and have a competent attendant present with rescue equipment when workers enter grain storage bins.

The serious violations include failing to ensure that employees are trained on the hazards associated with grain handling, cover openings with grates in grain bins, ensure that workroom floors are clear of combustible dust, and provide a preventive maintenance schedule for machinery.



References:
CNN
OSHA
Iowa Fatality Assessment & Control (FACE) Program
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Trench Warning from OSHA

Monday, October 10, 2011

Two workers are killed every month in trench collapses. Unprotected trenches are among the deadliest hazards in the construction industry and the loss of life is devastating.Since 2003, more than 200 workers have died in trench cave-ins and hundreds more have been seriously injured. OSHA has three new guidance products to educate employers and workers about the hazards in trenching operations.

The new products include a fact sheet, QuickCard and a poster that warns, “An Unprotected Trench is an Early Grave.”

The three documents may be ordered in English- and Spanish-language versions from the Publications page of OSHA’s web site. See the news release for more information.
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ConocoPhillips-Alaska attends FastTrack 120 in Baton Rouge

Thursday, September 29, 2011

“I have attended other Technical Rescue training programs, and the instruction and training that I have received during this FAST TRACK 120 course has been within the top 3 courses I’ve attended in my 20 years in the Fire Service.” ~ Jason Kuni Diorec, Emergency Response Assistant Chief, ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.During a recent FastTrack 120 class in Baton Rouge, we had the opportunity to talk with one of our students who traveled all the way from Alaska.

He told us of his plant’s unique needs based on their location and how they require a wide variety of emergency response skills to handle the responses in their remote area. FastTrack 120 is Roco’s most intense program and includes 12 days of confined space and high angle rope training. Certification testing based on NFPA is conducted at the end of the program, which includes individual skills testing, scenario-based performance evaluations, and a written exam.

Q: Why is this type of training important to your team?

FastTrack student, Will Rogillio, makes patient access through a horizontal pipe during a confined space exercise using SAR at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge.

A: We are a unique industrial facility due to our remote location on the Alaska North Slope. We are isolated from any emergency response services for miles, so we supplyour own emergency response services to protect life and property in the Boundaries of ConocoPhillips leased land.

This makes our responses very similar to any other Municipal Fire Department plus the industrial aspect as well, which includes: Hydrocarbon Fires, Structural Fires, Medical Emergencies, Haz Mat, Spill Response, and Technical Rescue.

Q: How or when could these techniques be used at your location?

A: Since our facility operates around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our Technical Rescue team has the potential to be called upon at any time.

Student Joe Roske being lowered into a 24" shaft using rapid deployment techniques to make quick access to the patient in a confined space scenario.

Q: How has your team benefited from this training experience?

A: Our Technical Rescue Team has developed a very strong skills set in training and practice. This has allowed us to gain the confidence of the people we protect.

Q: What was your favorite part of the Roco class?

A: My personal favorite was the “hands-on” component. The repetitive skills stations followed by scenario-based practicals allowed me to acquire the skills that I would not have been able to comprehend just from a lecture and book information.

Q: How did you like training at the Roco Training Center (RTC)?

Using a SKED stretcher, Mark Snellgrove and Mike Vaccaro package their patient (Joe Roske) and prepare him for a raise and then a "pick and pivot" exercise over a low point edge.

A: The facility was impressive. It is designed to exceed any skill level of student with the right instructors.

Q: Why did you choose Roco Training?

A: My company, ConocoPhillips, has been trained by Roco for years. Roco has the techniques and skills that best meet our needs.

Special thanks to Jason Kuni Diorec for providing this information – and to Roco Instructors Russell Kellar (Chief Instructor) from Austin, Texas; Bob Kauer from New York; and Neal Thurman from Baton Rouge. We appreciate you guys!
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Honouring Those Who Serve…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Roco’s Tim Armstrong (Roco Rescue of Canada) recently told us about a most worthwhile project for military personnel and first responders that’s called Honour House. The first of its kind in Canada, Honour House is a newly renovated $4 million home that provides temporary housing for injured or disabled military personnel or first responders and their families while seeking medical care in the Metro Vancouver area.

Just so happens, Honour House is located in New Westminster, B.C., where Tim is currently the Fire Chief. According to him, “The citizens and surrounding departments have been very supportive of the project, because it truly is a way to help those who have been injured in the line of duty or while serving their country. When recovering from a serious injury or returning home after military service, it is wonderful to have a resource such as Honour House to rely on for support.”

In fact, Honour House sounds very much like the special housing and support provided for the families of children receiving critical medical care at facilities such as at St. Jude’s here in the US – but this home is for military forces and first responders – fire, police and emergency response personnel – who are injured in the line of duty. It’s the first of its kind that we’ve heard about.




The idea for Honour House came about following a special benefit to recognize Canadian troops for their service in Afghanistan. It became apparent that special assistance was needed to those individuals returning home – especially those who were returning injured or wounded. It was determined that Canadian forces and first responders who were receiving care or rehabilitation in the Metro-Vancouver area medical facilities were experiencing difficulty in finding temporary housing for their families.

We salute Honour House of Canada – what an incredible way to honor (or honour) your country’s military personnel and emergency responders than to provide assistance to their families while medical care is being provided.



The Honour House Society, an independent registered charity whose objective is to provide free interim accommodation for the families of Canadian Forces and first responders, is pleased to have met its goal of opening the first of its kind home for families of Canadian forces and first responders.

Fact: Canadian troops have served in Afghanistan since 2002, with more than 35,000 men and women having completed at least one tour of duty. More than 150 Canadians have been killed and over 4,500 have been injured.

Here’s a great quote by Rick Hiller, Chief of Defense Staff… and we couldn’t agree more!

“When a soldier steps on foreign soil in a high-risk environment, every single Canadian [or American] should be walking with him or her.”~

Check out the Honour House’s website.

You can also view the YouTube video to learn more about the Honour House.
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