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You Get What You Pay For

Saturday, December 15, 2018
by Pat Furr, Safety Officer & VPP Coordinator 

Introduction: According to the Chemical Safety Board “Contractor Safety Digest,” the agency has conducted several fatal investigations where insufficient safety requirements for contractor selection and oversight were found to be causal to the incidents.

The incident that caught our attention in particular was one involving confined spaces that occurred in Georgetown, CO, in 2007, in which five contract workers were killed. The company later adopted the CSB’s recommendations to include:

• Prequalifying or disqualifying contractors based on specific safety performance measures; and,
• Requiring a comprehensive review and evaluation of contractor safety policies and safety performance of contractors working in confined spaces.


The CSB also emphasized that a strong contractor selection process and contractor oversight policy helps to ensure quality work and that worker safety is maintained. Because of this, various industry organizations have developed recommended practices and safety criteria for selecting and prequalifying contractors. For example, the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) lists staff qualifications, accident history, a contractor’s safety program, and an owner’s previous experience as potential criteria for safety prequalification of a contractor. 

Roco Comments: We couldn’t agree more. Safety performance must always be at the forefront. With more and more companies coming to rely on contractors to deliver both goods and services, this critical factor cannot be underestimated. Every situation differs, but the trend is undeniable, contractors are taking a bigger and bigger bite of the pie.

Many times, there are sound reasons for contracting out some of the work at a facility. It may be a reduction in costs such as employee benefits and workman’s compensation, a unique service or product that the host company just cannot deliver in-house, or it may be that the service or product is only needed for a short period of time. No matter what your reasons for considering a contractor, there are many factors to consider in addition to the lowest price bid.

That old adage “You get what you pay for,” holds a lot of truth in so many instances, and especially so with contractors. Now I am not saying that you will never get high quality at a low price, but it is rare. When you put a job out for bid, it is important to list the specifications for the work or product that you need the bidders to meet, but equally as important is to list other specifications besides the job or product scope, and one of these specifications is safety.

As bids come in, don’t settle for the lowest bid until you have compared the bids to ensure all the specifications you have laid out are met. This is called “down select.” Cull out all the bidders that fail to meet your critical specifications, and one of the most critical is proven safety. If a bidding contractor refuses to submit their safety information as requested, then my recommendation is to cull them out of the running. Additionally, if a contractor has a safety record that falls short of your stated specifications, they should also be culled out unless they are able to satisfy your follow up questions to show extenuating circumstances.

So how do we determine if a bidding contractor is performing safely or not? Well, one measure is to request their OSHA recordable rates along with their NAICS or SIC codes. Then look up their Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) NAICS code rates to see if they are above or below their industry average. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Several hiring clients require potential contactors to complete prequalification questionnaires that will dig deeper into that contractor’s performance record and current operations and programs.

Another option is to subscribe to one of the online contractor management and compliance database sites. These sites act as clearinghouses that collect contractor compliance, safety programs, insurance, and other valuable information in a one-stop shopping format. 

A hiring client can rely on the various sites to set default requirements for the type of work they need and the associated criteria that must be met, or the hiring client can modify or specify custom needs that must be met. The scoring for potential contractors typically is graded on some sort of easy to view scale such as green-meets all requirements, yellow-meets most requirements but falls short on one or more non-critical criteria, or red-fails to meet basic or critical criteria. Some score it like school grades A, B, C, D, F.

The advantage of these types of contractor management compliance vetting sites is they have access to a huge database of potential contractors and provide a quick and easy platform for narrowing the field. Of course, once a hiring client has narrowed the field down to a manageable level, it is always prudent to perform a more targeted interview of a potential contractor – and, focusing on safety, is one of the most important considerations! 

By taking the steps to evaluate potential contractors not only for their ability to deliver the goods or services you require, but also learning about their past and current safety record and programs just makes good sense. It is also an excellent means of demonstration not only due diligence, but ultimately settling on a contractor that will most likely perform safely at your facility.

Well, there is another old adage that goes like this “Who pays the piper, calls the tune.” Once you have engaged with a contractor, it is imperative that they understand your expectations regarding safety and accept that as part of the job performance. This is the time to ensure that not only legislated safety requirements are met, but also any hiring client safety policies that may exceed OSHA are also explained and understood.

So, you have settled on the contractor and are ready for them to begin work at your facility, or to deliver product. For the product, it is a matter of quality control and ensuring any certifications that you require are met. But when a contractor comes to your facility to begin work, it is important to provide adequate monitoring of the contractor to ensure they are meeting all of your requirements, especially when it comes to safety. Don’t forget that as a hiring client you have responsibilities not only for your employees’ safety, but to a certain degree the safety of the contractor’s employees. If the contractor employees are exposed to a hazard that you as the host employer created or control, then there are certainly liabilities that you must consider. Because of this, it is very important to develop and follow a program for monitoring the work activities and safety performance of ALL employees on your site, both your employees and any contractor employees.


Pat Furr is a chief instructor, technical consultant, VPP Coordinator and Corporate Safety Officer for Roco Rescue, Inc. As a chief instructor, he teaches a wide variety of technical rescue classes including Fall Protection, Rope Access, Tower Work/Rescue and Suspended Worker Rescue. In his role as technical consultant, he is involved in research and development, writing articles, and presenting at national conferences. He is also a member of the NFPA 1006 Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications Standard. Prior to joining Roco in 2000, he served 20 years in the US Air Force as a Pararescueman (PJ).



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Successful Engulfment Rescue in Iowa

Monday, November 26, 2018

Our congratulations to the Burlington (Iowa) Fire Department on a successful grain bin rescue that happened in their community back in May of this year (2018). The incident was reported on Firehouse.com.

The Burlington Fire Department responded to an incident with a man trapped up to his neck inside a corn grain bin in a rural area. Upon arriving at the scene, the initial ambulance unit spoke with the victim’s son who told them that his father was buried up to his armpits inside the bin. The son had thrown a rope down to his father to prevent slipping further down into the corn. Fortunately, the victim remained calm and was able to communicate with the responders.

The bin, designed to hold up to 30,000 bushels of corn, was two thirds full on that morning.
Responders used a Res-Q-Throw Disc typically used in water rescue to lower an O2 bag with an attached non-rebreather mask to the victim.

As additional response vehicles arrived on scene, proper positioning of the apparatus was critical in assisting the rescue. The department’s aerial truck was positioned in a narrow lane between two grain bins and a barn where the aerial was deployed by the crew. The aerial was initially raised to the roof level where crews (two firefighters and two deputies) had assembled including the victim’s son.
To reduce weight on the roof of the structure, one of the deputies and the son came down from the structure.
Crews soon realized that the only way to rescue the gentleman was to set up a rope system and lower a responder into the bin. The aerial was put in place to assist this operation. An incident command vehicle was set up a short distance behind the aerial, offering excellent visibility to the Incident Commander.

Rescue equipment was gathered from various apparatus to include main and secondary life safety ropes as well as other needed gear. Pulleys were attached to the manufactured anchor points on the bottom of the aerial platform. A change-of-direction pulley was fixed to the front of the aerial truck directing the pulling action of the rope to a large grassy area in front of the truck. The main line was rigged with a 5:1 system while the secondary line was rigged with a 2:1 system. CMC MPDs were used as the descent-control device for both lines. On-scene personnel reportedly highly praised these devices.

A firefighter donned a Class III-harness to be lowered through a small opening in the top of the bin to the surface level of the corn, which was approximately 25 feet below. The aerial platform was positioned above the opening and remaining personnel on the room tended the lines. These personnel also assisted in lowering equipment down to the rescuer via a rope.

As part of the equipment being lowered were several milk crates and soda bottom flats, which became an essential part of the operation by distributing the rescuer’s weight on the corn. These crates, positioned in a horse-shoe pattern around the victim, allowed the rescuer to walk across the surface of the corn. A truck belt was lowered into the bin and was positioned around the victim’s chest. It remained attached to the secondary line to prevent the victim from slipping down further into the corn.

Finally, a six-paneled grain rescue tube was lowered into the bin panel by panel. Each panel was placed around the victim and then hammed into place with a TMT Rescue tool. The panels were fastened together to form a solid tube. When secured, the tube protected the victim from shifting corn and relieved some of the pressure being exert on him.
Throughout the process, the ground team kept the rescuer on a short leash to prevent him from falling into the grain himself.

A 4-gas atmospheric monitor with an extra-long sampling tube was used to test the air inside the bin to make sure the rescuer and victim were not in an IDLH atmosphere. The meter was monitored continuously throughout the rescue operation by fire personnel who was positioned on an extension ladder on the exterior of the bin near the opening. He also functioned as a safety officer for operations inside the bin and on the roof and relayed communications for the rescuer inside the space.

A neighboring fire department had brought a special grain rescue auger that was lowered into the bin. The rescuer inserted the auger inside the rescue tube and slowly removed the corn from around the victim’s chest. After the tube was secured around the victim, the IC had called for two relief cuts to be made in the bin – one cut near the victim and the other directly opposite it on the other side of the bin, which was used to empty the bin of corn. Crews used K-12 saws to cut a large triangular opening in the bin wall. The second opening was made by forcing open a door in the side of the bin near the victim. These doors, which swung inward, could only be opened after a significant amount of grain spilled from the cut made on the other side of the bin.

Local road crews which had been on site brought a large-end loader and a smaller skid loading to the scene and used them to push large amount of corn away from the openings in the walls, which enabled a continuous flow of corn.

In approximately 2-1/4 hours after crews arrived on scene, the victim was able to walk from the bin. He refused air transport but consented to ground ambulance transport where he was treated for minor injuries.

Again, our congratulations to the Burlington Fire Department as well as all the agencies involved in making this a successful rescue.

Notes:
The department noted several lessons learned which include:

• Grain bin rescue is a high hazard, low frequency event. The department recognized the importance of its training in ropes and rope operations as well as training with specialized rescue equipment.
• It was determined that the roofs of the grain bins hold far less weight than originally surmised.
• The aerial platform was a key factor in the rescue operation. It was used as an anchor point and for staging equipment. Physical limitations and maximum load-bearing capability must be carefully considered and even more especially when ropes are being utilized. Weight and angles of the aerial must be factored into the operation.

Source: www.Firehouse.com

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Team Benefits from Rescue Challenge!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

We recently received a great letter (below) from the Valero Rescue Team who participated in Roco Rescue Challenge 2018. The team is from Wilmington, CA, and is pictured here.

Thank you for having us at Rescue Challenge 2018. We had an amazing experience, as usual, and were exposed to a number of challenging scenarios. We were presented with many learning opportunities over the two days. Those learning opportunities never seem to end and are what makes attending Rescue Challenge so beneficial. 

We get comfortable training at our facility over and over again, and your scenarios significantly put us outside of our comfort zone. I love it; and I speak for most of my team when I say they love it as well.

Every time we finish training or Challenge with the Roco guys, we take away stuff that makes us better rescuers...and that's all I've ever wanted to do since getting into the program four years ago.

Of course, my team and I were disappointed in our performance on the SAR on-air scenario. We are better than that, and we look forward to proving ourselves next year! 

Our rescue team appreciates all of the hard work provided by you (Dennis), the staff and your families. Thank you for the experience and the opportunity to participate, compete, struggle, and learn. 

Thank you,

Valero D-Shift Rescue Team

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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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Firefighter Deaths Lower in 2017

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Deaths among career and volunteer firefighters continued to be low in 2017 with both at the second lowest level since 1977, when the NFPA study began. There were 60 on-duty firefighter fatalities across the nation in 2017. Of these deaths, 21 were career firefighters and 32 were volunteers. The seven remaining deaths were employees or contractors of federal land management agencies. Sudden cardiac death accounted for the largest share of fatalities with 29 deaths. 

There were 17 deaths at fire scenes (9 structure fires and 8 wildland fires). NFPA also reported that an unusually high number of firefighters (10) were struck and killed by vehicles. Two firefighters were killed and another injured by a drunk driver at the scene of downed power lines.

For more detailed information, visit NFPA.org.
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