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Rescue Challenge 2018

Friday, November 02, 2018

Seven challenging rescue scenarios awaited participating teams at Roco Rescue Challenge 2018 recently held in Baton Rouge. Multiple training props at and near the Roco Training Center (RTC) were used to create the realistic problem-solving scenarios, which included both props at the RTC as well as the training tower and the “industrial prop” at the Baton Rouge Fire Department. These facilities provided a wide variety of rescue scenarios and rigging environments for the teams during the two-day event.

Challenge teams were required to successfully complete scenarios in all six (6) Confined Space Types based on OSHA-defined criteria in addition to Rescue from Fall Protection and Extrication. The scenarios were designed to meet OSHA1 and NFPA2 requirements for annual practice and evaluation of team capabilities as well as the individual rescuers. Participating teams received third party testing of the scenarios and individual rescuer skills along with documentation to back up the testing. Following Rescue Challenge, each team receives a complete report of the scenarios along with their scores, strengths and weaknesses as well as debriefing notes from the instructor evaluators.

Speaking of evaluators, this year featured some of Roco’s top instructors who hailed from Idaho to New York. These individuals are passionate about teaching rescue and improving the performance of their students. No doubt they’re a big part of why the event is so successful and so effective in honing the teams’ skills. In fact, this year’s event was dedicated to the memory of one of our long-time instructors and original Roco Rangers, Mr. Doug Norwood.

All Challenge scenarios are designed to have teaching goals that require different rescue and rigging skills. They included simulated IDLH rescue entries with the use of SAR and SCBA equipment. Also included were single-person and multi-casualty scenarios with a mix of manikins and live victims/evaluators as patients.

Challenge consisted of three different testing criteria to include:
1. Seven rescue scenarios;
2. Individual Performance Evaluations (IPE); and,
3. A Team Performance Evaluation (TPE).

Here is a quick break down of the two-day event:

DAY ONE
Station#1 – CS Types #3, #4 & #6
A worker fell approximately 8 ft. while working on a motor in a fan plenum on a cooling tower. The worker fell through the fan to the cooling pipes below and suffered from heat exhaustion and a possible broken/dislocated hip. Access and egress to the patient and ground was through a series of ladder cages at approximately the 50 ft. level.

Station #2 – Rescue from Fall Protection
A worker who was painting on top of a 50 ft. dome column tower fell onto his fall protection system. Access by the technical rescue team was over the top of the dome to the far side of the tower where rescuers needed to transfer the patient from his system to the rescuer’s system before descending to safety.

Station #3 – CS Types #3 & #2
Three workers were trapped in a “Stack” elevator that jumped off its track. The scenario simulated rescue from a height of 300 ft. requiring knot-passing techniques.

Station #4 – CS Type #4
A reenactment of an OSHA confined space incident where two entrants were injured in a flash fire in a confined space, which required on-air entry using SCBA.

Station #5 – CS Type #4
The rescue of an unconscious worker from a column vessel with multiple internal trays, requiring that the patient be lowered approximately 40 ft. to the ground.

DAY TWO
Station #6 – CS Type #5
A worker was trapped under a piece of machinery (2000lbs+) in a containment vault. Teams used rescue airbags and cribbing to raise and extricate the individual from under the object before completing a low-point confined space rescue from a vertical-entry confined space.

Station #7 – CS Types #1 & #3
Report of a worker down in a low O2 atmosphere in a boiler expansion tank. Teams were forced to ascend a vertical temporary ladder approximately 10 ft. inside a 24-in. tube to access the individual while wearing SAR due to low levels of oxygen.

Station #8 – Individual Performance Evaluation (IPE) 
Individual team members were evaluated on their ability to perform patient packaging, knots, rigging, and mechanical advantage.

Station #9 – Team Performance Evaluation (TPE) 
Teams moved a patient along a multi-stage track referred to as the “Yellow Brick Road.TM” This scenario requires the teams to perform different packaging, raising and lowering techniques in order to move successfully to the next problem-solving station.

Scoring was very tight this year with all teams scoring between 85% to 90% overall. Roco scoring is based on the following: 90% and above “superior rescue team;” 80%-89% “excellent rescue team;” and 70%-79% “capable rescue team.” Scores below 70% require the teams to redo the scenario once it is critiqued and any safety concerns are addressed.

We also had numerous observers at this year’s Challenge both from the municipal and industrial sectors. They reported that they were able to see “first hand” the benefits of Rescue Challenge, and that they are planning on sending teams for next year’s event.
  
One observer commented that the format and location allowed teams to get out of their comfort zones and have a good look at how they would respond to an actual incident at their facility.
Some of the exceptional performances this year included:
Shell-Convent, LA: Overall highest average of 90% for all scenarios.
Valero-Wilmington, CA: 1st place IPE station.
CF Industries-Donaldsonville, LA: 1st place TPE station.
Two Louisiana teams (International Paper-Bogalusa and Shell-Norco) tied for “Top Score” on a single scenario scoring 490 out of 500 possible points.

If you missed this year’s Rescue Challenge, join us next year on October 23-24, 2019, in Baton Rouge. Every year our instructors devise new surprise obstacles to challenge teams with hurdles they’ve never tackled before.
Is your team “Rescue Challenge ready?”

1OSHA 1910.146 Permit-Required Confined Spaces
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.

2NFPA 1006 Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications
1.2.6* Technical rescue personnel shall remain current with the general knowledge, skills, and JPRs addressed for each level or position of qualification. Technical rescue personnel shall remain current with technical rescue practices and applicable standards and shall demonstrate competency on an annual basis.


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Rescue Toolbox: Petzl ASAP LOCK

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Experienced rescuers know there are several ways to belay, or provide a safety line for a live load. Traditional belays include Tandem Prusiks, aperture devices, Munter Hitch, modern devices such as the ID or the MPD, and several others. What all of these devices have in common is the belay system is anchored with the line running through it as the load moves away from the anchors, or the line is pulled through the belay to take in slack as the load moves toward the anchors. These types of belay systems must be tended by a dedicated operator.

But certain professions and even alpinists and sport climbers have been using a different means of providing a belay for many years. This type of belay has been called a self-belay, or a traveling belay and it works by having the belay device attached to a fixed safety line, and the device travels along with the load as it ascends or descends. Window washers and rope access technicians have been relying on this type of belay for many years. Even soloist rock climbers or mountaineers have been using variations of self-belay or for alpinists fixed lines to negotiate difficult pitches in lieu of a roped party climb. 

Up until recently, these traveling belays required the individual on rope to pull the device along both on ascent and decent.
In fact, many times, devices that were not intended to be used as a belay device were and are still being used for this purpose. I’ve seen window washers using handled ascenders as their belay device and try as I might to explain to them that it would have a high potential to fail upon a shock load, they said it was the best they could come up with. The Petzl Shunt was a bit of improvement over handled ascenders, but it still needed to be “towed” up and down the line and the operator needed to remember to let go of the tow string should the mainline fail otherwise the device would not lock onto the line. Most all cam type devices will fail to lock on the rope if the body of the device is held when it is called to arrest a fall. But in the recent past a new “rolling” fall arrestor became available that overcomes many of the limitations of traditional belay devices. It is called the Petzl ASAP.

The ASAP comes in two versions, the original International version and the newer ASAP Lock (pictured here). The primary difference between the two versions is the Lock has a means to lock onto the rope when you get to your intended position, which prevents a large loop of rope building between the top anchor and the device. This feature is critical for individuals that stop to perform a function at height where the potential for wind to blow rope into a growing loop between the device and the top anchor which would create an unacceptable potential freefall distance. Both versions are compatible with 10-13 mm kernmantle rope, but to meet ANSI Z359.15 certification, they must be used with the Petzl RAY 12 mm rope, and specified connectors and energy absorbers. 

One advantage of having a rolling fall arrestor is it reduces the manning requirements as there no longer needs to be an individual operating the belay.
Another advantage is there is no guesswork as to the amount of slack in the belay lane as is possible when the load is out of sight of the belay operator. This is particularly common on longer drops as the weight of the safety line can fool some less experienced operators into believing that is the weight of the load. 

But there are also potential disadvantages to an automatic rolling fall arrestor. If you do not plan ahead and there is a mainline failure and the load is arrested by the ASAP, it isn’t going anywhere. It will be stuck right where it arrests on the safety line – that is, unless you did think ahead and anchor the safety line into a dynamic anchor. We like to use the Petzl ID (pictured here) or the CMC MPD for this purpose. This allows for an immediate emergency lower on the safety line or even a haul by building the dynamic anchor into a Z-Rig.

We have found the ASAP in either version to be a great device on an administrative safety line during tower rescue training, as it closely replicates conditions as they would most likely be in a real world small team, or one-on-one tower rescue, while providing the required level of safety that is relatively transparent to all involved. 

So, come to one of our tower classes to see the ASAP in use, and it may just turn out to be another tool for your rescue toolbox. Here is more information on Roco’s 30-hour Tower Work & Rescue training. For further assistance, please call our office at 800-647-7626. Also, here’s a video on these devices from Petzl.

ASAP Lock in ANSI-approved System Configuration









ASAP International Version (below)

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Trench/Excavation Competent Person Training

Monday, October 15, 2018

If you are supervising an excavation/trench job or are signing off on a permit for excavation work…YOU NEED THIS CLASS!

This 8-hour course from Roco is intended for Owners, Supervisors, Managers, Operators, and Safety personnel who are required to oversee Excavation and Trench work.

OSHA has recently updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on preventing trenching and excavation collapses in response to a recent spike in trenching fatalities. According to a study by OSHA1, the primary reason trenches collapse is that they are not properly protected. Protective systems were properly employed in only 24% of the trench collapse fatalities. In the remainder, a protective system was either improperly used (24%), available but not in use (12%) or simply unavailable (64%).

Despite the fact that environmental conditions were a contributing factor in 68% of the fatalities, the Competent Person2 was not onsite when the fatality occurred 86% of the time.
Most of the time (65%) the employer (Competent Person’s responsibility) had not identified the soil type even though soil type is a factor in trench cave-ins.

Because of the extreme hazards involved, OSHA 29 CFR 1926.650 Subpart P (Excavations) requires at least one person be trained as a Competent Person for excavation sites, which includes trenching activities. Trenching and excavation compliance and safety is dependent on these specialized employees, and OSHA has recognized that a higher level of training and experience is required than a normal worker would possess. OSHA relies on the Competent Person for certain activities or safety procedures at a construction site such as design, daily inspections, and supervision.

Tasks performed by the Competent Person include:
• Monitoring water removal equipment and operations.3
• Inspecting excavations subject to runoff from heavy rains to determine need for suitable protection.4
• Determining cave-in potential and need for protective systems.5
• Examining damaged material or equipment used for protective systems.6
• Classifying soil, by both visual analysis and by testing, to determine appropriate protection; re-classifying, if necessary.7
• Determining the appropriate slope of an excavation to prevent collapse due to surcharge loads, operating equipment, adjacent structures, or traffic, and assuring that  such slope is achieved.8
• Designing structural ramps that are used solely by employees as a means of access or egress.9
• Authorizing immediate removal of employees from the hazardous area where evidence of possible cave-in, failure of protective systems, hazardous atmospheres, or other hazardous conditions exists.10

Course Topics Include:
• Scope, Application, and Definitions of OSHA 1926.650, 1926.651 & 1926.652
• Specific Requirements of an Excavation Competent Person
• Identifying Existing and Potential Hazards
• Soil Classification
• Protective Systems – Requirements, Options, Installation and Inspection
• Sloping and Benching – Requirements
• Aluminum Hydraulic and Timber Shoring
• Shoring Alternatives (Trench Boxes)
• Using Tabulated Data: OSHA, Manufacturer’s and Engineer’s Tabulated Data
• Protective Systems Selection
• Rescue Considerations

This Roco class is available as a privately scheduled event. To schedule, email us at info@RocoRescue.com or call 800-647-7626.

1 Results of OSHA’s 2003 investigation are still useful in understanding why trench fatalities occur and how they can be avoided.
2 Competent person is defined by OSHA “as an individual, designated by the employer, who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to workers, and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

3 [29 CFR 1926.651(h)(2)]
4 [29 CFR 1926.651(h)(3)]
5 [29 CFR 1926.652(a)(1)]
6 [29 CFR 1926.652(d)(3)]
7 [29 CFR 1926 Subpart P Appendix A]
8 [29 CFR 1926 Subpart P Appendix B (c)(3)(iii)]
9 [29 CFR 1926.651(c)(1)(i)]
10 [29 CFR 1926.651(k)(2)]
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Using a Crane in Rescue Operations

Sunday, September 30, 2018

We’re often asked, “Can I use a crane as part of my rescue plan?”

If you’re referring to using a crane as part of moving personnel or victims, the answer is “No, except in very rare and unique circumstances.” The justification for using a crane to move personnel, even for the purposes of rescue, is extremely limited. Therefore, it is very important to understand the do’s and don’ts for using a heavy piece of equipment in a rescue operation.

On the practical side, the use of a crane as a “stationary, temporary high-point anchor” can be a tremendous asset to rescuers. It may also be part of a rescue plan for a confined space; for example, a top entry fan plenum. The use of a stationary high-point pulley can allow rescue systems to be operated from the ground. It can also provide the headroom to clear rescuers and packaged patients from the space or an elevated edge.

Of course, the security of the system's attachment to the crane and the ability to “lock-out” any potential movement are a critical part of the planning process. If powered industrial equipment is to be used as a high-point, it must be treated like any other energized equipment with regard to safety. Personnel would need to follow the Control of Hazardous Energy [Lockout/Tagout 1910.147]. The equipment would need to be properly locked out – (i.e., keys removed, power switch disabled, etc.). You would also need to check the manufacturer’s limitations for use to ensure you are not going outside the approved use of the equipment.

Back to using a crane for moving personnel – because of the dangers involved, OSHA severely limits its use. In order to utilize a crane, properly rated “personnel platforms or baskets” must be used. Personnel platforms that are suspended from the load line and used in construction are covered by 29 CFR 1926.1501(g). There is no specific provision in the General Industry standards, so the applicable standard is 1910.180(h)(3)(v).

This provision specifically prohibits hoisting, lowering, swinging, or traveling while anyone is on the load or hook.
OSHA prohibits hoisting personnel by crane or derrick except when no safe alternative is possible. The use of a crane for rescue does not provide an exception to these requirements unless very specific criteria are met. OSHA has determined, however, that when the use of a conventional means of access to any elevated worksite would be impossible or more hazardous, a violation of 1910.180(h)(3)(v) will be treated as “de minimis” if the employer complies with the personnel platform provisions set forth in 1926.1501(g)(3), (4), (5), (6), (7), and (8).

Note: De minimis violations are violations of standards which have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. Whenever de minimis conditions are found during an inspection, they are documented in the same way as any other violation, but are not included on the citation.

Therefore, the hoisting of personnel is not permitted unless conventional means of transporting employees is not feasible. Or, unless conventional means present even greater hazards (regardless if the operation is for planned work activities or for rescue). Where conventional means would not be considered safe, personnel hoisting operations meeting the terms of this standard would be authorized.

OSHA stresses that employee safety, not practicality or convenience, must be the basis for the employer's choice of this method.
However, it’s also important to consider that OSHA specifically requires rescue capabilities in certain instances, such as when entering permit-required confined spaces [1910.146]; or when an employer authorizes personnel to use personal fall arrest systems [1910.140(c)(21) and 1926.502(d)(20)]. In other cases, the general duty to protect an employee from workplace hazards would require rescue capabilities.

Consequently, being “unprepared for rescue” would not be considered a legitimate basis to claim that moving a victim by crane was the only feasible or safe means of rescue.

This is where the employer must complete written rescue plans for permit-required confined spaces and for workers-at-height using personal fall arrest systems – or they must ensure that the designated rescue service has done so. When developing rescue plans, it may be determined that there is no other feasible means to provide rescue without increasing the risk to the rescuer(s) and victim(s) other than using a crane to move the human load. These situations would be very rare and would require very thorough documentation. Such documentation may include written descriptions and photos of the area as part of the justification for using a crane in rescue operations.

Here’s the key… simply relying on using a crane to move rescuers and victims without completing a rescue plan and very clear justification would not be in compliance with OSHA regulations.
It must be demonstrated that the use of a crane was the only feasible means to complete the rescue while not increasing the risk as compared to other means. Even then, there is the potential for an OSHA Compliance Officer to determine that there were indeed other feasible and safer means.

WARNING: Taking it a step further, if some movement of the crane (or fire department aerial ladder, for example) is required, extreme caution must be taken! Advanced rigging techniques may be required to prevent movement of the crane from putting undo stress on the rescue system and its components. Rescuers must also evaluate if the movement would unintentionally “take-in” or “add” slack to the rescue system, which could place the patient in harm’s way. Movement of a crane can take place on multiple planes – left-right, boom up-down, boom in-out and cable up-down. If movement must take place, rescuers must evaluate how it might affect the operation of the rescue system.

Of course, one of the most important considerations in using any type of mechanical device is its strength and ability (or inability) to “feel the load.” If the load becomes hung up on an obstacle while movement is underway, serious injury to the victim or an overpowering of system components can happen almost instantly. No matter how much experience a crane operator has, when dealing with human loads, there is no way he can feel if the load becomes entangled. And, most likely, he will not be able to stop before injury or damage occurs.

Think of it this way, just as rescuers limit the number of haul team members so they can feel the load, that ability is completely lost when energized devices are used to do the work.
For rescuers, a crane is just another tool in the toolbox – one that can serve as temporary, stationary high-point making the rescue operation an easier task. However, using a crane that will require some movement while the rescue load is suspended should be a last resort! There are simply too many potential downfalls in using cranes. This also applies to fire department aerial ladders. Rescuers must consider the manufacturer’s recommendations for use. What does the manufacturer say about hoisting human loads? And, what about the attachment of human loads to different parts of the crane or aerial?

There may be cases in which a crane is the only option. For example, if outside municipal responders have not had the opportunity to complete a rescue plan ahead of time, they will have to do a “real time” size-up once on scene. Due to difficult access, victim condition, and/or available equipment and personnel resources, it may be determined that using a crane to move rescuers and victims is the best course of action.

Using a crane as part of a rescue plan must have rock-solid, written justification as demonstration that it is the safest and most feasible means to provide rescue capability. Planning before the emergency will go a long way in providing options that may provide fewer risks to all involved.

So, to answer the question, “Can I include the use of a crane as part of my written rescue plan?” Well, yes and no. Yes, as a high-point anchor. And, no, the use of any powered load movement will most likely be an OSHA violation without rock-solid justification. The question is, will it be considered a “de minimis" violation if used during a rescue? Most likely it will depend on the specifics of the incident. However, you can be sure that OSHA will be looking for justification as to why using a crane in motion was considered to be the least hazardous choice.

NOTE: Revised 9/2018. Originally published 10/2014.


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Q&A: Energy Absorber Systems and Safety Lines

Friday, September 28, 2018

READER QUESTION: 
Is an energy absorber system needed on the safety line to help limit the impact forces should the belay system be engaged to arrest the falling load?

ROCO TECH PANEL ANSWER: 

Thank you for your question. Roco uses traditional untensioned safety lines in most all of our rescue systems, and we do indeed incorporate an energy absorber (shock) in those belay systems. While OSHA does not address specifics when it comes to rescue systems, there is some overlap from the OSHA as well as the ANSI standards that is helpful when considering the belay system during rescue. 

NFPA 1006 Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications, sections 5.2.9 through 5.2.11, provides guidance for the construction of a belay (safety line) system. Specifically, the 5.2.11 objective statement calls for the belay system to ensure “the fall is arrested in a manner that minimizes the force transmitted to the load.” The annex information to 5.2.9 adds: “A.5.2.9 Belay systems are a component of single-tensioned rope systems that apply a tensioned main system on which the entire load is suspended and a non-tensioned system with minimal slack (belay) designed, constructed, and operated to arrest a falling load in the event of a main system malfunction or failure. 

While these traditional systems used for lowering and raising are in common use, two-tensioned rope systems can also be used to suspend the load  while maintaining near equal tension on each rope, theoretically reducing the fall distance and shock force in the event of a singular rope failure. To be effective, two-tensioned rope systems must utilize devices that will compensate appropriately for the immediate transfer of additional force associated with such failures.”

Additionally the NFPA 1006 definition of belay is “3.3.9* Belay. The method by which a potential fall distance is controlled to minimize damage to equipment and/or injury to a live load.” And Annex information “A.3.3.9 Belay. This method can be accomplished by a second line in a raise or lowering system or by managing a single line with a friction device in fixed-rope ascent or descent. Belays also protect personnel exposed to the risk  of falling who are not otherwise attached to the rope rescue system."

So, where can OSHA help in all of this? OSHA requires the maximum force of a fall arrest system not to exceed 1,800 pounds. ANSI is more protective and requires arresting forces not to exceed 900 pounds. NFPA does not state what the arresting forces need to be limited to, but the performance measurement is to “minimize damage to equipment and/or injury to a live load.” OSHA and ANSI have already done the homework on this and stated their performance requirements. One proven way to meet NFPA 1006 as well as OSHA and ANSI requirements is to incorporate an energy absorber in the belay (fall arrest) system. Whether 1,800 pounds or the ANSI required 900 pounds is appropriate, or if you use a two tensioned system, this is up to your AHJ. 

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