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Update: Question to OSHA on Individual Retrieval Lines

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Report submitted by John Voinche', Sr. Vice President/COO, Roco Rescue

In July, a group of Roco instructors conducted a Confined Space Rope Rescue demonstration for OSHA representatives from Washington, DC. These agency officials represented both General Industry and Construction. This demo was used to clarify our concerns about a pending Letter of Interpretation (LOI) concerning Individual Retrieval Lines in confined spaces that was brought to our attention last year. Here is a little background…

Last July (2011), we brought you a story entitled, “What’s the talk about individual retrieval lines?”  At the heart of the issue was a pending LOI from OSHA regarding how retrieval lines are used inside confined spaces. [Note: This LOI is pending and has not been published in the Federal Register.]

Here’s the question to OSHA from a gentleman in Maryland which initiated the LOI…

“Does OSHA 1910-146 (k)(3) require that each individual entrant, including workers and/or rescuers, entering into a confined space be provided with an independent retrieval line or can more than one entrant be connected to a single retrieval line?”

The proposed answer from OSHA stated that each entrant should have an “individual” retrieval line, despite the fact that the word “individual” is not included in this section of the standard [1910.146 (k)(3)(i)].
 
Roco then wrote a letter to OSHA requesting clarification about the forthcoming LOI. A portion of our letter stated that, “This pending interpretation is different from our understanding of what’s required by the regulation. While this particular technique is one option of providing external retrieval, there are other alternatives currently being used by rescuers.”

One of the techniques being used is a “single retrieval line” for multiple entrant rescuers. The first rescuer to enter the space is attached to the retrieval line via an end-of-line Figure 8 on a Bight. Any subsequent rescuers enter the space attached to the same retrieval line using mid-line Butterfly knots. In our opinion, this satisfies the intent of the regulation in that each entrant is attached to a retrieval line.

However, in the case of multiple entrants, requiring “individual” lines as mentioned in the proposed LOI may represent an entanglement hazard. This, in effect, may cause entrants to opt out of using retrieval lines due to potential entanglement hazards (which is allowed by the standard if entanglement hazards are a concern). So, in our opinion, this effort to bring more clarity to the issue may further complicate the matter.
 
Again, we believe the single retrieval line method described above is one way to rescue entrants while satisfying the intent of the standard at the same time. More background is available by reading our original story.

Fast-forward back to July 2012… the demonstration lasted about four hours. During this time, Roco demonstrated numerous retrieval line techniques as well as the “pros and cons” for each system. There was a great deal of discussion back and forth on how this pending letter of interpretation could affect rescuers and entrants – and their ability to perform their jobs safely and efficiently.
 
We would like to thank OSHA for allowing us to offer our feedback concerning this topic. We also want to say a special thanks to the Baltimore Fire Department for allowing us to use their training facilities. We don’t know when a final LOI will be issued, but we will keep you posted!
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SKED Procedural Change with Cobra Replacement Buckles

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here at Roco, we have recently discovered a minor issue when the SKED stretcher is updated with Cobra buckles. The Cobra buckle replacement system is attached by girth-hitching the components into the grommets. The girth hitch takes up more room in the grommets than the sewn loop that was previously used. This makes it more difficult to pass the vertical bridle rope through the grommet holes that we’re accustomed to using.

Skedco was contacted and has approved the following alternative method (see photo). After tying a square knot at the bottom of the SKED, bring the tail ends of the rope back up and pass them through the bottom grommet hole of the handles before tying the second square knot. Note: “Handle” holes may be used with the old style buckle system.

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Mechanical Advantage Systems: How Strong?

Friday, May 11, 2012

In this and upcoming articles, we want to give you an idea of the actual forces that are put on M/A systems versus theoretical forces that you may read about. What’s the difference?

With theoretical, we’re referring to the amount of force that is “supposed” to be produced, while the actual is just that…the actual amount of force that is produced when the system is built and operated.

For example, calculating the force if you built  a 3:1 mechanical advantage “on paper” (theoretically) versus physically building the system. With the actual system, you would have to consider the friction loss created by the system components, so the “actual M/A” may be 2.5:1 with the same 3:1 system.

We decided to do some informal testing out at the Roco Training Center with the assistance of some of our students. The systems were tested as they are generally used in the field. The numbers shown are an average of the tests we conducted. The average is from a random sample of 10 to 20 tests using the same equipment and set up. We used a Dillon 25,000 lbf dynamometer with an error factor of +/-20 lbf. Note: These test numbers are designed as a reference only and should not be used as exact force data.

Test #1: Straight-line Pull

Student Set-up: Students were asked to pull on the line in a horizontal plane and exhibit as much force as they could without tugging/jerking the line. They were then asked to maintain that tension and tug/jerk the line.

Equipment Set-up: 12-ft of 1⁄2” PMI rope tied with a Figure 8 knot and attached to the dynamometer by two 2-ft pieces of 1” basket-looped webbing and two auto-locking steel carabiners to a rigid anchor with another basket-looped webbing loop.

What the Numbers Mean

First of all, they will serve as a baseline for future informal tests when comparing different types of M/A systems. We will evaluate the efficiency of the different systems as well as the possible forces that are put on the components of the system when using typical rescue haul teams.

Grasping at Ropes

One interesting fact that we can take away from these numbers is that even though the vast majority of the persons involved in the testing (random rescue students) weighedin excess of 160 lbs, they were only able to generate a maximum of 160 pounds of force on the 1⁄2-inch rope. This is largely due to the student’s ability to grasp and hold onto the 1⁄2” line before it pulled through their hands.

Similar tests using 9mm rope had an average force of 120 lbf for a single-person pull. There was only a slight difference of about 2 lbf between the 1⁄2-inch rope and the 9mm rope. We had anticipated a greater disparity as the rope diameter decreased and the ability to grasp the smaller line was lessened. However, we did observe that with the smaller diameter rope, haulers had a tendency to twist their hands making a 90-degree turn in the rope. This added additional friction making it possible to put more force on the line before it slipped.

Stay tuned as we continue this informal, real-world testing in future blog posts. It should be interesting to see how the forces translate from 1,2,3, and 4-person Haul Teams when using these various Mechanical Advantage systems.
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Roco Techniques Right at your Fingertips!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The newly revised Roco Pocket Guide features fifty-eight pages of color illustrations of the actual techniques and systems taught in our classes.

Made from a synthetic paper impervious to moisture, this pocket-sized field guide will hold up in the most unfavorable environments.The newly revised Roco Pocket Guide features fifty-eight pages of color illustrations of the actual techniques and systems taught in our classes. Made from a synthetic paper impervious to moisture, this pocket-sized field guide will hold up in the most unfavorable environments.
Tabbed sections offer a quick reference in the following topics: knot tying techniques, rope care tips, anchoring, belaying, patient packaging, litter rigging, lowering systems and a confined space types chart.

Roco's New Pocket Guide is the perfect reference when working in the field. Retail price: $ 35.00

You can purchase a copy of Roco’s NEW Pocket Guide (Model # R910C) for $35.00 by visiting our online shop, or order by phone at 800-647-7626.

Register to WIN a Roco Pocket Guide.
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Proper Training Required: Why it’s so important!

Monday, August 08, 2011

In this article, we want to provide some background on our experiences with users of rescue equipment, and why we feel proper training is so important.  In the past 30 years, we’ve had the honor of having thousands of students attend our rescue training classes.  Attitudes toward the statement “Do not use this equipment without proper training!” runs the gamut. It goes from “I never read the instructions,” to “I read, understand, and follow them to the T.” As our students come in all shapes, sizes, experience levels, attitudes, and needs, this is understandable.  However, there’s one common denominator, they have come to us for training – and that’s our critical role.

In many cases, an entire rescue team will show up for training with all their rescue gear in tow. They will then tell us that they have never received training on, nor really understand the proper use of their equipment.

So, it really boils down to this – what are the advantages of receiving training on the proper use of the equipment?

Obviously, the primary concern is safety – safety of the users and the rescue subjects. Another critical point includes using the equipment contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions, which can lead to questions of liability. While some manufacturers provide complete and “easy to understand” instructions for use of their equipment, others provide just enough to get the box open.

Note:  While it’s not an NFPA 1983 requirement, most manufacturers do include a statement concerning proper training prior to use.  In fact, there is no NFPA requirement that instructions for use be provided by the manufacturer.

Here are some important questions to consider

What are the working load limitations of the item?  If the gear is used for both planned work activities and for rescue activities, the maximum working loads may be different depending on the application.  In some cases, additional rigging configurations are required for exceptional uses and heavy loads.
What are the effects of using the equipment in a variety of configurations? Are there load multipliers involved in certain configurations that need to be addressed? What are the effects of eccentric loads on the equipment?  Many equipment items are to be used in static load applications only, and can be damaged or catastrophically fail if subjected to dynamic loads.  Oftentimes these issues are not addressed in the user manual, but may be a need to know and understand consideration.

Also, using the item as part of a system may not be covered in the user manual.  It’s important to understand this so that the equipment can be used to its full advantage – and to make sure it’s not subjected to unacceptable loads when used in a system.  Many times the user manual provides bare bones instructions for use and doesn’t cover any instruction for use as part of a system. Nor does it cover the precautions for use as part of a system.

While it seems that more and more manufacturers are moving towards pre-built, engineered systems, it’s not always feasible (or advantageous) to use a pre-built system. However, it is very common to use multiple bits of hardware, software, and rope to create a “build-as-you-go” system that’s appropriate for the job.  Without receiving the proper training on the compatibility of components used in a system, the user may be creating an unsafe condition or missing out on an opportunity for a more efficient solution. Or, miss out on the expanded use of equipment they already have in their cache.

In addition, more rescue gear is being designed to perform multiple functions.  It’s not uncommon for us to hear students say something like, “Wow, I didn’t know it could do that, too!”  Items that are put into the rescue equipment cache with the belief that it is designed to perform one function only, may be another opportunity lost.

Needless to say, we are big advocates of multifunction equipment.  This provides for a smaller, lighter, and quite possibly less expensive rescue equipment cache. It also provides the ability to adapt a given rescue plan and shift the role of the equipment from one function to another.  Typically, there are opportunities to use equipment in a manner that it can be quickly converted from one function to another as part of the plan.  Without the proper training, this may not be obvious by simply reading the user manual.

Finally, how clear is the user manual in explaining criteria for inspection and removal from service?  Depending on what’s provided by the manufacturer (i.e., text and graphics), a piece of equipment may require additional training for the proper inspection points and reasons for taking it out of service.

With that said, we hope it’s perfectly clear that the statement, “proper training is required prior to use” should be taken to heart. It always saddens us to hear of incidents where rescuers are hurt or injured while training for, or in the performance of their duties…especially when the root cause is listed as inadequate training.  Hopefully, you are seeking quality training from a reputable training institution on the proper use of your equipment.  Not just to satisfy a liability issue, but to keep your rescuers safe.  It also allows them to understand and take full advantage of the equipment in their rescue cache – keeping it safe, simple, and effective!
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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!