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Delay on CS Construction Enforcement

Monday, July 13, 2015

Washington, D.C. – In response to requests from the construction industry, OSHA is delaying full enforcement of its recently promulgated Confined Spaces in Construction Standard to allow employers additional time to comply with the rule.

The final rule, issued May 4, has requirements similar to the Permit Required Confined Spaces Standard for general industry, including employee training and atmospheric monitoring.

The new construction rule is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 3. Between that date and Oct. 2, construction employers will not be cited for violating the new standard if they are making a "good faith" effort to comply and are in compliance with training requirements under the new or old standard.

According to OSHA, good faith efforts include scheduling training for employees, ordering necessary equipment to comply with the new standard, and taking alternative measures to protect employees from confined spaces.

Nearly 800 annual serious injuries will be prevented under the new rule, OSHA estimates.

For more detailed information regarding this ruling see our previous post here.

Source: National Safety Council
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Technical Rescue Incident Preparedness: Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Reported by James Breen, Special Projects Manager for Roco Rescue, Inc.

Whether you’re a relatively new or a well-established Technical Search and Rescue (TSAR) organization, following an established Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment process is a great way to ensure you’re prepared for the “Big One."

The “Big One” is that incident where you’re called upon to deliver on the organizational investment of having a TSAR capability. A great deal of organizational time, money, and effort is invested in developing, maintaining, and deploying a Rescue Team. Plant Administrators, Fire Chiefs, and elected officials (private board members or public officials) want to see a return on that investment when their rescue service is called into action to save a life.  

The purpose of this article is to assist the Rescue Team Leader (RTL) and aspiring RTL (because we should always be developing our replacement) in establishing a Rescue Team, developing a new TSAR capability, or ensuring an established Rescue Team is adequately prepared for the “Big One."

Firstly, if there is a potential for a TSAR incident to occur within your jurisdiction, NFPA 1670 requires the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to address a number of “General Requirements” found in Chapter 4. The review and completion of these requirements are usually a function of the Rescue Team Leader along with key management personnel who authorize, budget, schedule, and equip the Rescue Team.

The format of Chapter 4 is useful for all Rescue Teams, whether newly formed or long established. It is an excellent tool for ensuring some of the foundational aspects of preparedness and organizational structure are (or have been) properly established.  Most “senior rescuers” (not those on Medicare but those that have the respect, time, and experience that makes them leaders in technical rescue) will tell you that the TSAR incident potential, including their hazards and risks, change as industrial processes are updated, installed, or eliminated. 

Key to all emergency response success is planning and preparation. However, incident preparation should be driven by the types of emergency incidents that have a potential for occurring within a given jurisdiction. This is the starting point for determining rescue capabilities, SOP/SOG’s, staffing, training, and equipment. 

The Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment is one method for assessing incident potential. NFPA defines:

•  Hazard Identification - The process of identifying situations or conditions that have the potential to cause injury to people, damage to property, or damage to the environment. 

•  Risk Assessment - An assessment of the likelihood, vulnerability, and magnitude of incidents that could result from the exposure to hazards. 

This process identifies the possibility of conducting TSAR operations within a jurisdiction by evaluating environmental, physical, social, and cultural factors that influence the scope, frequency and magnitude of a potential TSAR incident. It also addresses the impact the incident has on the AHJ to respond and conduct operations while minimizing threats to rescuers (NPFA 1670, 4.2.1 and 4.2.2). The standard lists a number of scientific methodologies in its annex but in the spirit of keeping it, we’ll approach this process using a Preliminary Checklist. (See Sample Checklist.)

Once completed, the checklist may have entries that require further analysis, identify a need to develop or expand a capability, or require entering into an agreement with an external resource. 

This checklist is for day-to-day incident responses under predictable jurisdictional response conditions and should not be used for disaster scenarios where large scale regional and federal resources will be required to mitigate the incident. These scenarios should be addressed through Emergency Response Plans. 

Most fire departments and other emergency response organizations want to maintain a response capability that match potential incidents in order to be operationally effective, provide for rescuer safety, and have positive incident outcomes.  

A Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment is an excellent way to evaluate your organization’s preparedness level for technical rescue incidents based the potential for one to occur; it also aids in the development of specific capability. 

About the Author: James (Jim) Breen is Special Projects Manager for Roco Rescue where he handles a wide variety of projects and provides program support, while still engaging in instructional services. Jim previously served for over 23 years with the Albuquerque Fire Department and retired as the agency's Fire Chief in 2013. He previously had served as a Battalion Commander for the city’s busiest battalion, and has extensive experience in Incident Command and Heavy Rescue Operations. He is a former USAF Pararescueman and a Rescue Squad Manager and Task Force Leader with NMTF-1 where he was deployed to several national disasters.

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Incident: Alaska Calls for Increased Focus on Trench Safety

Monday, July 06, 2015

In response to the death of a 23-year-old construction worker in a trenching incident in Anchorage, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is highlighting the importance of training workers on safe trench work and excavations.

State regulations require employers to ensure workers are trained to recognize and avoid hazards related to any trench work or excavations in which the depth of the site is at least 4 feet. Employers also must make sure workers adequately enter and exit trenches, in addition to taking proper measures for shoring and sloping protection.

An Anchorage Fire Department search-and-rescue team, police and medics responded to the incident shortly after 1 p.m. on June 16, 2015.

The construction worker had been working on a sewer pipe in a trench that measured roughly 7 feet deep by 15 feet across when it collapsed and buried him. His co-workers tried to extricate him and did get him out of the trench, but his injuries were just too severe. The 23-year-old victim died at the scene.

OSHA has launched an investigation into the workplace accident according to a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Sources: National Safety Council Newsletter (nsc.org) and Alaska Dispatch News (adn.com).
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Using Hazard Controls to Prevent Worker Deaths

Monday, June 15, 2015

Despite progress made over the past several decades in reducing the number of occupational deaths, an average of 12 workers are still killed on the job every day, Mary Vogel, executive director with the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said during the press conference.

The National COSH recently reported that broader use of hazard prevention strategies and threats of stiffer consequences for workplace safety violations will help reduce the number of annual worker deaths, a group of safety advocates stated during an April 23 press conference in Longmeadow, MA.

Criminal prosecution of employers for workplace violations is extremely rare. Vogel said that although increasing prosecutions would not eliminate all workplace fatalities, the strategy should be used "when appropriate."


Hazard prevention strategies based on the Hierarchy of Controls are another effective method for ending workplace deaths, according to Peter Dooley, senior consultant with National COSH. During the press conference, Dooley listed several recent workplace fatalities he claims could have been prevented with such strategies.

National COSH also announced the release of its annual report, "Not an Accident: Preventable Deaths, 2015." The report includes case studies of recent worker deaths, prevention strategies and National COSH's policy platform.

It was released in advance of Workers Memorial Day, which will take place April 28. On that day, National COSH plans to release a database detailing the circumstances of 1,500 worker deaths.

Article Source – National Safety Council News Alert (www.nsc.com)

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​Confined Space Rescue…Always Seeking a Better, Safer Way!

Monday, June 01, 2015

When a student returns to one of our classes after a few years, we’ll often hear, “Wow, things sure have changed! There are a lot of new techniques and equipment since the last time I attended.” So, why do we change our courses on a regular basis? If it worked back then, why change it?

The answer is simple really… if there’s a better way or safer way to do something, we'll take the opportunity to incorporate it into our programs.

When deciding what techniques or equipment may be candidates, we typically look at three primary objectives: 

1.  Does it perform a function that is needed in order to accomplish the type of rescue that is being addressed?

2.  Does it perform in a safe, or even a safer manner, than previous equipment or techniques?

Once these requirements are met, we'll ask... 

3.  Does it add efficiency to the rescue effort? And, is it efficient in terms of time, manpower and equipment needed?   

When evaluating a new piece of equipment for our programs, we will also consider how versatile the item may be. 

To have one piece of equipment that performs multiple functions is a huge benefit to rescuers in that it saves time, money, weight and bulk. 

One example of a product that performs multiple functions is the Petzl ID. The ID can be used as the foundation of MA systems, it can also be used for short ascents, and the manufacturer now allows it to be used as a belay device.

Compliance with legislated regulations is also a big consideration. For performance-based regulations like 1910.146 (Permit-Required Confined Spaces), it’s all about creating a competent rescuer who is capable of safely and effectively in permit spaces. Other relevant OSHA regulations include Fall Protection, Respiratory Protection, Lock Out/Tag Out, and HAZMAT, just to name a few. We also refer to many different nationally recognized consensus standards as we build our programs. Probably the most visited we draw from are NFPA 1006 and 1983, which offer guidance on professional qualifications for rescuers and equipment standards for manufacturers. We also rely on ANSI, NATE, SPRAT and IRATA, as well as other standards that provide appropriate guidance for the type of program we are delivering.

But, where do we come up with the leading edge techniques and equipment that we are continuously adding to our courses? Well, this is where we take a lot of pride in how we operate internally as a business. 

Roco’s leadership has always encouraged our instructors and rescue personnel to identify needs in the rescue world and think of a way to satisfy that need…yes, to build a better mousetrap! 

We want our people to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to evaluate new equipment or come up with a new technique that meets the three primary objectives that we identified earlier.

As an added benefit, Roco instructors and rescue team members come from a wide variety of backgrounds. This includes the fire service, law enforcement, U.S. military and private sector industrial emergency response teams. What’s more, some of our personnel enjoy sport climbing and even expedition mountaineering on their off time. In other words, we have a very diverse way of putting ropes and associated hardware to the test. Everyone is encouraged to share their ideas. 

Oftentimes this "free thinking" among our personnel leads to a great step forward in efficiency and allows us to keep our courses leading the way to a better rescuer.

It’s also exciting to see some of the emerging technologies that have come to market as far as rescue equipment is concerned. By encouraging our personnel to get their hands on these new pieces of kit and “ride them hard,” we are able to determine if it is something that needs to be incorporated into our scheme. Every once in a while, we’ll even discover a new way to use the equipment that is beyond what the manufacturer envisioned. Our people have come up with some very unique ways to meet some very specific rescue needs. But, it all comes back to those same three primary objectives. We need a piece of gear (or a technique) that will do the job we need it to do, and do it safely and efficiently.

Here's a great example...who would have thought that a technique used on glacier crevasse rescue would be a skill that comes in handy in an industrial environment? Fortunately, someone in our think tank did, and now it is a staple of our curricula. So, if it’s been a while since you have attended a Roco class, maybe it’s time to come see what we have been up to lately.

For the ultimate rope rescue experience, click on Roco's Fast-Track 120™

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