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Roco Incident Log

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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Workers sent back into partially collapsed trench

OSHA proposes $243K in penalties following fatal, serious injuries

After escaping from a partial trench collapse hours earlier, two workers employed by an Austin (TX) contractor to install a residential wastewater line were not as fortunate later that day. Both were told to return to the unprotected 13-foot-deep trench to finish the job, and soon after, the trench collapsed again. This time, the collapse buried one worker causing fatal injuries and partially buried the second, who suffered serious injuries.

Following its investigation, OSHA cited the company for willful violations for:

“Despite a partial trench collapse earlier in the day, the contractor recklessly sent employees back into the excavation without protective measures to prevent another cave-in,” said OSHA Area Director Casey Perkins in Austin. “The loss of this worker's life was preventable and the employer must be held responsible for ignoring excavation safety rules.”

Investigators also issued citations for serious violations for failing to train employees working in and around an excavation, exposing workers to struck-by hazards and failing to implement protective measures when water was present in the trench, exposing employees to cave-in hazards. OSHA also cited the company for failing to report the hospitalization of an employee to OSHA within 24 hours, as required. 

“The loss of this worker's life was preventable and the employer must be held responsible for ignoring excavation safety rules,” said OSHA Area Director Casey Perkins in Austin.

From 2011-2018, 166 workers died in trench collapses. In 2019, OSHA reports at least 24 workers died while working on trenching and excavation projects, all of them preventable had the required safety measures been taken.

OSHA has a National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavations. Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least 2 feet from the edge of a trench. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entering and exiting before allowing a worker to enter.

The 2022 “Trench Safety Stand-Down” week, June 20-24, is a collaboration with the National Utility Contractors Association and OSHA to educate employers and workers and reduce the number of worker injuries and fatalities related to trench cave-ins.

OSHA's trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions

See full article from OSHA. https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region6/04212022

Additional Resources

 

Using a Crane in Rescue Operations

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

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.

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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 –  a top entry fan plenum, for example. 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.

Because of the dangers involved in moving personnel with heavy equipment, OSHA strictly limits its use.

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 proper Lock-out/Tag-out procedures [Control of Hazardous Energy 1910.147]. Any equipment used in the rescue operation 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 beyond the approved use of the equipment.

Because of the dangers involved in moving personnel with heavy equipment, OSHA strictly 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 1926.1431.
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 the hoisting of 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.

An OSHA Letter of Interpretation (LOI 1993-02-17) states, “OSHA has determined, however, that when the use ofa conventional means of access to an 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 has complied with the provisions set forth in 1926.550(g)(3) through (g)(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 is also important to note that OSHA specifically requires rescue capabilities in certain instances, such as when entering permit-required confined spaces [PRCS 1910.146]; or when an employer authorizes personnel to use personal fall arrest systems [PFAS 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 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 are 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.

Bottom line… 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.

crane6_5.22WARNING: Taking it a step further, if some movement of the crane  is required, extreme caution must be taken! Advanced rigging techniques may be required to prevent movement of the crane from putting undue 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. The movement of a crane can take place on multiple planes – left-right, boom up-down, boom in-out and cable up-down. If movement of the equipment 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  entangled 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, 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 a 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?

However, 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. 

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.

Using a crane as part of a rescue plan must have rock-solid, written justification as a 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 5/2022. Originally published 10/2014.

 

Additional ResourcesRescue PrePlans

 

 

Workers Saved by St. George Firefighters’ Rope Rescue Skills

Friday, May 20, 2022

Firefighters perform rescues every day in many different situations. This incident shows while rescues like this may not happen every day, when they do, rope rescue skills are invaluable.

5/16/2022 – Lafayette, Louisiana Rope Rescue

Combining strength, skill, knowledge, and quick thinking, rope rescue is a dangerous task firefighters face. The art of rappelling and the selection of appropriate knots and anchors to ensure the safety of rescuers and their patients are skills that are vital to emergency responders.

st.georgeBoth_5.22Two construction workers were left hanging from their safety harnesses after the scaffolding holding the workers failed at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center. According to the Lafayette Fire Department, one person received major injuries, and another received minor injuries. 

Firefighters from the St. George Fire Department in Baton Rouge were covering Station 5 in Lafayette so their brother and sister firefighters could take the time to honor their fallen brother. Fortunately, the St. George Firefighters that were there happened to be trained in rope rescue – exactly what was needed to rescue the stranded workers.

Captain Neyland and Lieutenant Gateley brought them safely down to the ground where Captain Brown and Lieutenant Gonzales were ready to render patient care. While rescues like this may not happen every day, when they do, rope rescue skills are invaluable.st.george3_5.22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photos courtesy of Lafayette Fire Department

 

 

Additional Resources

Roco Rescue Quick Drills

Roco Rescue Challenge is Back for 2022!

Friday, May 6, 2022

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After two years of pandemic restrictions, Roco Rescue is pleased to announce the return of Roco Rescue Challenge for 2022. For the first time since 2019, this flagship event is returning to the Roco Training Center (RTC) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on October 19th and 20th.

Kay Goodwyn, President of Roco Rescue, says, “After two years of all the disruptions caused by the pandemic, hosting Rescue Challenge again gives us a sense of normalcy returning. We are very excited to be interacting with rescue teams again at this level.”

The Roco Rescue Challenge has been an ongoing event since 1989. From inception, Rescue Challenge was meant to be far more than just a rescue “competition” that is all about trophies and bragging rights. Rescue Challenge respects the risks—and yes, challenges—that are posed by the confined space environment.

But Rescue Challenge is meant to be enjoyable, and trophy and bragging rights opportunities do abound as well. What Rescue Challenge does a masterful job of is combining realistic learning and new ideas and trends with a competitive edge. What many participants find is that Rescue Challenge builds a rock-solid foundation under their team, providing an acute awareness of their capabilities as well as limitations.

Roco Rescue Challenge is first and foremost about promoting safety and meeting regulatory compliance with regard to confined space rescue response. It is, therefore, very confined space centric by design. The event satisfies OSHA’s 1910.146 requirement for annual training and covers all six (6) types of confined spaces identified in the standard.

It is very common for teams to incorporate feedback from the early scenarios and noticeably improve their techniques before departing the event.

Because Rescue Challenge is a learning event, teams are encouraged to share among themselves what worked in their scenarios as well as what did not. This element of networking amongst teams from varying backgrounds and locales is one of those intangible benefits that most participants feel brings added value to attending.

But it is the team-building aspect of Rescue Challenge where most participants see the biggest growth and benefit. Rescue Challenge removes any homefield advantage and adds in challenging rescue scenarios that are timed. Anyone who has attended will tell you that it is an intense and highly pressurized environment. This is also by design; it is in these types of scenarios where teams best realize their strengths and weaknesses—and grow from both.

Roco-Challenge-2022-300x300After each scenario, the Roco instructors conduct an immediate debrief and provide guidance as to how the scenario could have been improved. It is very common for teams to incorporate feedback from the early scenarios and noticeably improve their techniques before departing the event. When you consider the six laws of learning (readiness, exercise, intensity, etc.), the Roco Rescue Challenge is easily ticking all of those boxes.

Underscoring that Rescue Challenge is a learning event is the training report delivered to each team at the conclusion. These detailed reports list the attendees and describe the types of confined spaces encountered and the skills demonstrated during the scenarios. This focus on training and team growth is one of the distinguishing aspects of Rescue Challenge that separates it from other purely competitive events.

Roco Rescue Challenge is first and foremost about promoting safety and meeting regulatory compliance with regard to confined space rescue response.

But some teams do arrive aspiring to bring home hardware for their efforts. And for those teams, Rescue Challenge has much more to offer. There are two award categories, the first being the Individual Performance Evaluation. This award is given to the team with the best time or highest score on a particular rescue skill or set of skills.

The second, and most coveted, award is for the Team Performance Evaluation, aptly called “The Yellow Brick Road.” This unsolvable rescue scenario rewards the team that follows that road the farthest with no safety violations. While teams are always good-natured going into the Team Performance Evaluation, once immersed in the event, everyone wants to win that trophy. It is precisely this level of excitement that makes the 2022 Roco Rescue Challenge such a unique event.

During the last two years of restricted activities, the rescue world has been hard hit along with the rest of us, and it’s been difficult for teams to train together. But with the restrictions alleviating, it is time for all of us to get back to doing what we do. At Roco, “We Do Rescue,” and at the top of our list is hosting Rescue Challenge again.

We never leave here without having learned something to make ourselves better for when we go back to the plant and lives are on the line.” — Christian B., Shell

Rescue Challenge is held at RTC — a state-of-the-art training center dedicated exclusively to rescue training. It features all six (6) types of confined spaces identified by OSHA and allows the creation of new and innovative rescue scenarios. The realism offered by RTC is one of the key features that attendees to Rescue Challenge comment on frequently.

But what people comment on the most is the sense of comradery they feel between themselves, the staff, and the other teams. Roco staffs the event with its most knowledgeable instructors who all have the singular mission of providing a safe and enjoyable learning event. The sense of togetherness everyone feels toward one another is truly incredible to experience at Rescue Challenge.

So, right when the weather is turning cool, join us on October 19-20, 2022, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the return of the Roco Rescue Challenge. Spaces are limited, so enroll early to assure your team a spot. Rescue Challenge is open to all and encourages new teams to attend. Regardless of experience level, we know all participants will develop and grow as a team, bringing home immeasurable experience … and perhaps even a nice trophy too.

For more information about Roco Rescue Challenge, click here. To save your spot and register, click here.

Additional ResourcesChallenge 2018-Day 2 114

 

 

 

5 Tips for Working Safely at Heights

Sunday, May 1, 2022

This week, May 2-6, is OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. The reason for this emphasis is the continuing injuries and deaths resulting from workplace falls – especially in construction work. Fall protection was the #1 cited standard by Federal OSHA in 2021, and falls continue to make OSHA’s “Fatal Four” list year after year.

The statistics don’t lie. In 2019, there were 1,102 fatal injuries in the construction industry; according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 38 percent of these fatalities were fall-related. In 2020, employers spent over 16.5 billion dollars combined indirect costs as a result of falls according to Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index for the construction industry.

In doing our part for National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls, we’ve created a list of Top 5 safety tips to consider before starting work.

1) Implement the Hierarchy of Fall ControlsHierarchy of FallPro Poster

The most effective method to protect workers against falls is to eliminate the hazards! All too often we see employers and workers simply accepting a hazard without fully attempting to eliminate it first. Admittedly, elimination is not always possible or feasible. In this case, we should make every attempt to use passive fall protection — such as physical barriers, guardrails, or hole covers to prevent falls.  Even this may not always be a practical application in the real world. If we are unable to implement these two methods of control, then (and only then) should it be acceptable to move on to personal protective equipment (PPE) and active measures of control.

2) Develop Effective Training

If there are remaining hazards in the workplace, you must provide workers with the knowledge and skills to be aware of the hazard and their potential effects. Workers should be able to identify when they are at risk for falls and take appropriate and effective measures to protect themselves. Be sure to incorporate hands-on skills into your training with knowledge and competency assessments before allowing workers to work at height. There is no replacement for direct, hands-on learning for this type of skill set. Some examples of this may include appropriate set-up of ladders, harness inspection, maintaining 100% tie-off, and lifeline anchor selection.

3) Provide Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

As mentioned previously, elimination and passive fall protection should always be our primary and secondary goals for reducing fall-related incidents. When we are unable to implement these methods, we must then rely on PPE to protect workers from the remaining hazard. Ensure that your workers ready have access to adequate PPE for the job; remember, PPE is not a “one size fits all” application. Consider providing different styles of PPE so that workers can choose what is most comfortable or convenient for them.  Workers are a lot more likely to use PPE that they like and are comfortable using.  Also, ensure that workers know how to inspect their PPE and how to wear, use, maintain, and store it appropriately. 

4) Select Appropriate Anchor Points

Fall protection equipment is only as good as the anchor point that it’s tied off to. The ideal anchor point will be located directly above the worker. The further away a worker is from the anchor, the greater potential a worker has to swing into objects during a fall. Additionally, anchor points must be able to withstand at least a 5,000 lb. load per worker. On occasion, workers can be found tying off to electrical conduit, small diameter pipes, or other unacceptable anchor points. Ensure that your workers know and understand how to select appropriate anchor points. As a best practice, consider discussing what anchor points will be used for the job prior to starting work.

5) Accurately Calculate Fall Distances

What good is fall protection if you hit the lower level before it engages? Accurately calculating fall distances can be the difference between life and serious injury or death. The formula used for calculating this is as follows:

Required Distance = Lanyard Length + Deceleration Distance + Height of Worker + Safety Factor

Distance Image

Lanyard Length is exactly that, the length of the lanyard being used. Most lanyards are around 6-ft. in length; be sure to reference the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the exact length of the lanyard.

Deceleration Distance refers to the distance from when the worker falls, to when the fall arrest device activates, and to the final stopping point. Most shock-absorbing lanyards deploy to about 3.5-ft. in length when engaged. Remember that any slack between the anchor point and the worker’s dorsal ring must be added to this distance. For instance, if a worker has a 6-ft. lanyard and connects it 3-ft. above their dorsal ring, that will create an additional 3-ft. fall before the system activates. Additionally, a full-body harness will likely stretch an additional foot during a fall – be sure to include these additional distances in your calculations.

Height of Worker is also self-explanatory, the height of the average worker is about 6-ft.

Safety Factor is an additional amount of space added into the calculation to serve as a buffer. The generally accepted safety factor is 3-ft.

 

ChrisMcGlynn headshot McGlynn is the Director of Safety/VPP Coordinator for Roco Rescue. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as well as a Certified Confined Space and Rope Rescue Technician, and a Nationally Registered Paramedic. As Director of Safety, Chris oversees all corporate safety initiatives, ensuring that employees at Roco have the tools and training that they need to do their work safely and effectively. He is also responsible for managing Roco's Safety Services Division, which provides trained safety professionals for turnarounds and other special projects. Finally, Chris serves as the VPP Coordinator for Roco, continuing Roco’s long-standing commitment to excellence in safety and health. Roco has been an OSHA VPP Star Worksite since 2013.

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Additional ResourcesFall Hazard Survey form

 

 

 

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