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Another Preventable Confined Space Fatality

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Comments by Dennis O'Connell, Roco Director of Training & Chief Instructor

The following “OSHA Fatal Facts” is another example of simple safety procedures not being followed or having no procedures in place.

Whether you’re in the refinery, chemical plant, agriculture, shipyards, construction or municipal fields, all of us have an obligation to protect ourselves, our employees and those we work with.

In this case, a fairly harmless looking tank and product resulted in another confined space fatality. As I’ve said many times before, using proper air monitoring techniques is probably the one thing you can enforce that would have the greatest impact on reducing fatalities. This tragic story is another example.

It’s also important to note that while there are different standards for different industry segments, they all attempt to lead us down the same path in using appropriate safety precautions – particularly, in this case, when entering confined spaces. We must remember that these specific standards have all grown from the General Duty Clause, as cited in this article. Basic and to-the-point, the General Duty Clause provides protection from hazards not covered in the more industry specific standards.

I know most of us are used to dealing with more spectacular-looking confined spaces with much more hazardous products; however, this one was just as deadly. It drives home the point…

a confined space is a confined space, no matter how benign it may appear, regardless of whether it’s located at the workplace or the homestead.

If it meets the definition of a confined space, it should be treated as a potential “permit-required confined space” until it is proven that there are no hazards present, or the hazards have been properly addressed.

(Click here to OSHA Fatal Facts)
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Manslaughter Charges Filed in Trench Death

Monday, January 15, 2018

Second-degree manslaughter charges have been filed against the owner of a Seattle construction company resulting from a 2016 trench fatality. This marks the first time a workplace fatality in Washington state has prompted a felony charge, according to the Washington Department of Labor & Industries.

On January 5, the company owner was charged by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which alleges criminal negligence in the January 2016 death of a worker, who died when the trench he was working in collapsed.

“The evidence shows an extraordinary level of negligence surrounding this dangerous worksite,” said Mindy Young, King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney.

The company was fined more than $50,000 and cited for multiple safety violations in 2016 after an investigation into the incident.

“There are times when a monetary penalty isn’t enough,” Washington L&I Director Joel Sacks said in a Jan. 8 press release. “This company knew what the safety risks and requirements were and ignored them. The felony charges show that employers can be held criminally accountable when the tragedy of a preventable workplace death or injury occurs.”

The owner also faces a gross misdemeanor charge for violating a labor safety regulation with death resulting. His arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 18.

Two workers are killed in trench collapses each month, according to OSHA. The agency states that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds.

Source: www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com

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Rescue Challenge 2017-Why you should have sent a team!

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Roco Rescue Challenge 2017 was held at our Confined Space and High Angle Training Facility (RTC) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on October 11 & 12. This year we had teams representing Petro-Chemical, Paper Mills, Fertilizer Manufacturing and Municipal Rescuers.

The two-day event included performing rescues from all six (6) confined space types based on OSHA-defined criteria. High Angle and Rescue from Fall Protection were also covered. These practical scenarios offer a realistic test of a team’s ability to perform under stress to both IDLH and non-IDLH atmospheres. Teams were required to triage and treat multiple victims as well as select and use a variety of patient care and packaging choices.

This year there were eight (8) rotation stations for the teams to take on. They included some of the following techniques and problem-solving capabilities:

1) An unconscious rope access worker suspended from fall protection in a narrow shaft. The only way to reach the victim was to ascend the victim’s access line.

2) Dealing with a medical emergency in a multi-level confined space that required both external and internal mechanical advantage systems to remove the patient.

3) Real rescue reenactment: Access and extricate victim that fell into and is trapped in a 24-inch shaft.

4) Rescue from an elevated horizontal entry with multiple victims in an IDLH atmosphere.

5) Access and package a victim from a reactor tower requiring both vertical and horizontal internal rescue systems in an IDLH atmosphere.

6) Access a victim with a broken hip via a mid-level 13”x16” horizontal portal accessed via a rope ladder.

7) Individual Performance Evaluation – Team members were tested on their personal rescue skills (Knot tying, Rigging, Packaging, M/A).

8) Multi-faceted Rescue Drill – Tests a team’s ability to adapt and use a variety of rescue techniques and packaging requirements as they move a patient through a gauntlet of rescue stations that traverse throughout the rescue tower.

Rescue Challenge gives teams the unique opportunity to use the equipment and techniques similar to what they would use back at their facilities in an actual rescue, stated Dennis O’Connell, Director of Training for Roco.
He added, “They also get the benefit of comparing their performance and effectiveness to that of other teams performing the same rescue. The teams are exposed to different rescue approaches, which provides a great learning experience in itself.

Challenge also provides an opportunity to be evaluated by multiple rescue professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds. This year more than 10 different evaluators evaluated each team over the two-day event.

The event is set-up so that a team’s capability or experience level really doesn’t matter. Each team is simply responding like they would if that scenario happened at their facility. For example, some teams bring paramedics and others only have basic First Aid/CPR training. It does not matter – it is all about how are you going to respond and handle that emergency.

So why should you have sent a team to Challenge? Besides getting written documentation on your team’s capability to respond to all six confined space types (practice is required annually by OSHA in applicable types of spaces).

It gets your team out of their comfort zone of training in the same locations over and over.
They get to see what other teams do and use. Teams also get the benefit of being critiqued by professional evaluators in order to correct any deficiencies in techniques and equipment. Lastly, the teams are offered positive feedback and suggestions on how to improve from evaluators with a wide variety of experience in the rescue world.

This year's teams included:

Shell Refinery - Convent, LA


Valero Refinery - Wilmington, CA


CF Industries - Donaldsonville, LA


International Paper - Bogalusa, LA


CHS Refinery - McPherson, KS


Don't miss the chance to register your team for Rescue Challenge 2018!
Click here for more information.
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Roco Training in North Dakota

Friday, November 17, 2017

Click on the picture below as Roco Chief Instructor Brad Warr discusses recent training at the North Dakota Safety Council's new confined space rescue training prop.


The next training date at NDSC for Roco's Rescue I-Plus course is scheduled for January 8-12, 2018.

Contact the NDSC at 800-932-8890 to register.

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Do’s & Don’ts for CS Attendants (Hole Watch)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

There continues to be a misconception that a confined space attendant (or “hole watch”) is a menial task to be assigned to the greenest, most inexperienced personnel on the job. That’s a dangerous assumption, and it has been a contributing factor in many confined space fatalities.

In fact, the attendant or hole watch should have a solid understanding of the permit space to be entered. This includes knowing the particulars of any known or potential hazards as well as other pertinent knowledge and skill sets. If you are assigned this crucial role, I hope you understand that the entrant(s) are relying on you. Your performance may have a significant bearing on the outcome, both good and bad.

Do you know everything you need to know in order to perform your duties as a confined space attendant? Don’t assume that you will learn everything you need to know after a two- or three-minute pre-job briefing.

Being an attendant or "hole watch" is a critically important role and failure to properly perform these duties has led to multiple fatalities – both for the entrants and the attendants themselves.

Do understand the known and potential hazards of the confined space. Do take the time to review the SDS (MSDS) for any and all materials or gasses that may be encountered. Do learn what the signs and symptoms of exposure may be. Then, if you detect any of them in the entrant’s behavior or appearance, you can order immediate evacuation.

Don’t gloss over this valuable and readily accessible information only to wonder what caused the entrant(s) to lose consciousness. The SDS (MSDS) provides information on route of exposure; and very importantly, the signs and symptoms of exposure. Don’t miss the opportunity to save the day, and perhaps a life, by learning these early warning signs. This allows evacuation of the space before entrants are no longer able to do so on their own.

Do learn the proper operation of any testing equipment, such as atmospheric monitors. It is also important to understand the limitations of this equipment as well.

Do keep track of all authorized entrants in the space. For entries with multiple entrants, don’t rely on your memory alone. Do use some sort of log or entry roster as a reliable means to accurately identify who is in the space.

Do make sure that you have a reliable means to communicate with the entrants. Do test that means of communication at the very limits of the space to ensure it works. Don’t wait until there is an incident to learn that you cannot alert the entrants, or you cannot hear that their status has changed. If you haven’t heard from the entrants in a while, it can be tempting to go into the space to check on them. This very situation has led to many fatalities in which the attendant was overcome by the same hazard as the authorized entrant(s). At that point, there is no longer anyone available to call for help.

Don’t accept the job assignment until you have been briefed by the entry supervisor on all the planned activities both inside and outside the space. Do remember that oftentimes activities outside the space can create a hazard for the entrants inside the space. Carbon monoxide and spills of hazardous materials are just a couple of examples.

Don’t allow any activities to take place inside or outside the space that are prohibited and are not consistent with the conditions stated on the entry permit, especially if they may create a hazard to the entrants. If those activities were not coordinated and told to you by the entry supervisor, do evacuate the space and call the entry supervisor for guidance.

Don’t leave the space or perform other duties that may interfere with your primary duty of monitoring and protecting the entrants.

Do remain diligent, remember that you are the critical link between the entrants and the rescue service.

Do know how to contact rescue services should they be needed. Don’t wait until it is too late to call for help. Do summons rescue as soon as you determine that the entrants may need assistance escaping from the space. Just remember, you can’t turn back the clock and buy back the time that entrants may have needed to survive. It’s a whole lot easier to turn around the rescue service if it is not needed.

Don’t allow unauthorized persons to approach or enter the permit space. If you are unable to warn them away, do order the evacuation of the authorized entrants. Do immediately inform the entry supervisor of the situation.

Do perform non-entry rescue (retrieval) when needed and if authorized by your employer. Do perform a thorough pre-entry inspection on the retrieval rescue equipment. Do make sure it is appropriate for the type of rescue that may be needed. Do learn and practice the proper operation of the retrieval equipment. Don’t wait until there is an emergency to try and figure it out. Don’t attempt entry rescue unless you are authorized, trained and equipped to do so. Don’t attempt entry rescue until you are relieved by another authorized attendant. Remember, you cannot leave the space unattended!

Don’t take your responsibilities lightly. Do ask the right questions of the entry supervisor and your authorized entrants. Do realize that they are all counting on you. Do ask to be briefed by the entry supervisor regarding any coordination that has been made with other work groups in the area. Do remember that many attendants have perished attempting heroic but ill-advised and unauthorized rescue attempts.

Do remember that your authorized entrants are relying on you. Do take the initiative to learn everything you need to know and how to operate any equipment in support of your entrants. As the hole watch, you are the critical link that can make or break a successful entry operation.

Click picture to download Safety Requirements for Confined Space Attendants.

 Written by Pat Furr, Safety Officer & VPP Coordinator for Roco Rescue, Inc.

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