<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=3990718177617800&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Roco Incident Log

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Incident log icon final

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.

crane3_5.22rev

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

 

 

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.

Follow Chris LinkedinIcon

 

Additional ResourcesFall Hazard Survey form

 

 

 

Roco Receives Premier Vendor Award

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

award HC_4.22

We are extremely excited to share that Roco Rescue recently received Entergy's Premier Vendor Award in the Safety category.

This award is sponsored by Entergy to recognize and promote extraordinary vendor performance. In seeking and sharing best practices, the award-winning company must have a profound and direct impact on improving the safety and reliability of the utility industry. And, we were in competition with some very large corporations.

To be eligible for the award, service and material providers who have contracted with Entergy during the award year (2021) must have achieved high levels of performance, implemented transferable new practices, or significantly improved processes in the areas of safety, diverse/local spend, sustainability, customer centricity, and continuous improvement.

entergy award1Roco provides Entergy with many highly trained and skilled confined space rescue teams across Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Additionally, Roco’s Safety Services Division now provides Entergy with highly trained and motivated Certified Occupational Safety Specialists to add another level of depth to safety on large-scale outages and turnarounds. Our Safety Specialists have been involved in overall outage planning, safety consulting and observations throughout the outage, and overall support for anything that Entergy needed during their large projects. This year, Roco had the pleasure of providing oversite for two outages, including one major outage in Mississippi.

Safety_Services_2022

Additional Resources

 

 

 

Lock-Out/Tag-Out: What Rescuers Need to Know

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The concept of Lock-Out/Tag-Out is a great one and it works. As rescuers, however, we have to take the common industrial application and expand it to ensure that the rescue scene is safe and that we are controlling hazards at the point of contact with the victim or in a space where something has gone very wrong.

What Does OSHA Say?

Although commonly referred to as the “Lock-out/Tag-out” (LOTO) standard, the actual title of 1910.147 is “The Control of Hazardous Energy.” This title probably better describes its true purpose – and there's no doubt that the understanding of this concept has saved many lives and prevented countless injuries. Prior to work, potential sources of hazardous energy must be identified and controlled. As responders, we do not have the luxury of studying blueprints and schematics to identify how to isolate the hazard. In fact, we’re most often responding to incidents where LOTO turned out to be ineffective or was improperly used.

LOTO-02-1

Standard LOTO is usually defined in a work planning and control process or a job safety analysis. Days, weeks, and even months are spent planning and assessing cause and effect to ensure a safe work environment. During an actual emergency, rescuers have only minutes to assess and determine how to “make the scene safe.” This safety mindset serves to protect both the rescuer(s) and the victim(s) from additional harm following an incident.

NOTE: While LOTO tags are permissible by OSHA, they are not commonly used as you must prove that a tag is at least as effective as a physical lock – something that would be hard to ensure.

 We’ve found that if you ask different people to define LOTO and who is responsible for performing it, you will get a variety of answers. OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147(b) has a very narrow and specific definition of who can perform lock-out or tag-out operations. That definition does not include rescuers; and there is good reason for that. OSHA defines two types of persons in regard to LOTO; “authorized employees” and “affected employees.”

An authorized employee is a person who locks out or tags out machines or equipment in order to perform service or maintenance on that machine or equipment. An affected employee becomes an authorized employee when that employee's duties include performing service or maintenance covered under this section.

Translation: A person that the employer says has the systems or mechanical knowledge and authority to safely lockout/tagout a machine or space.

An affected employee is an employee whose job requires him or her to operate or use a machine or equipment on which service or maintenance is being performed under lock-out or tag-out, or whose job requires work in an area in which such service or maintenance is being performed.

Translation: A person who has to work in an area where LOTO is in place. (Sounds like a rescuer to me.)

LOTO for rescuers

According to an OSHA clarification letter1, an affected employee is one who does not perform service or maintenance work on the machine or a piece of equipment and does not implement the LOTO system procedural elements. Rather, the affected employee's job responsibilities include operating the machine or equipment or performing other work in an area where the service or maintenance work is being performed.

There is good reason for these prohibitions on applying Lock-out/Tag-out. Improperly performed LOTO can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than no LOTO at all. Allowing LOTO to be performed by personnel who are not familiar with the processes and equipment increases the chances of improper lock-out. As rescuers, we rarely (if ever) have the kind of institutional knowledge to perform true LOTO of a process or environment.

If the reason for the rescue is something other than an exposure to a hazardous energy source, and LOTO has already been performed, the rescuers should walk through and verify the "authorized employees'" LOTO and ensure no changes are made to the system.

If LOTO was performed improperly or has failed and is causing the emergency, then rescuers can lock-out the equipment as they see fit or as the rescue needs dictate. The control of hazardous energy is part of making the area safe for rescue operations, but doing so without understanding the bigger picture can be dangerous.  Whatever actions are taken should be completed with the coordination of a facility representative who understands where or what you are working with. 

From a rescuer’s viewpoint, our definition and options for effective LOTO needs to include other equipment and techniques that provide a safe area for rescue operations and prevent further harm to the victim. This includes equipment that is used every day in the municipal rescue world that may not typically be found in an industrial facility. This includes equipment such as hydraulic spreaders and high-pressure air bags. Even simple tools, such as metal wedges, can be used to isolate and protect the hand or arm of a victim trapped in a piece of machinery. The key is to review your current capabilities and identify what may be needed prior to an incident occurring.

Danger-mediumMachine entrapment rescues are another all too common situation in which responders need to isolate the area at the point of contact with the patient to prevent further movement. RESCUERS BEWARE – Another huge consideration for rescuers is stored energy! Sometimes what sounds like a simple solution (such as turning off a machine) can do more harm IF the machine normally recycles before coming to a resting position. OSHA identifies these hazards and provides a pretty good list of examples to be aware of when responding. It includes stored or residual energy in capacitors, springs, elevated machine members, rotating flywheels, hydraulic systems, and air, gas, steam, or water pressure, etc. Rescuers need equipment and techniques to control, restrain, dissipate, and immobilize these hazards.

Municipal and industrial rescuers get called to a wide variety of rescues – each with its own unique problems. As we know, the number of ways people can get themselves in harm’s way is unlimited! In all entrapment incidents, however, it is essential that we protect both the victim and ourselves from further injury and limit our exposure to the hazards that are present. In every incident, rescuers must first identify the hazards and try to eliminate or control them in every way possible.

Sixth most cited standard

Every year, OSHA issues its “Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards” list. While the order of the list is different from year to year, it is generally still comprised of the same 10 standards year after year. LOTO, the control of Hazardous Energy (29 CFR 1910.147), consistently makes the list; and, for 2021, it was no different. For 2021, the LOTO standard landed as the 6th most frequently cited standard in the industry.

Incident: An Ohio aluminum parts manufacturer with a history of safety violations now faces penalties for 38 safety and health violations and a proposed $1 million fine following an investigation into the death of a 43-year-old worker struck by a machine's barrier door on March 30, 2021.

OSHA alleges that the company allowed employees to bypass guarding mechanisms designed to protect employees from the barrier door closing on them and that a malfunction in the door's optic control existed prior to the deadly incident. The worker was loading a part into the machine when the barrier door closed on his head.

OSHA's investigation identified problems with machine guarding and a lack of protective procedures – commonly known as lockout/tagout – throughout the facility. OSHA claims that the company was aware of these problems and failed to address them adequately.

Incident: Another case of LOTO “gone bad” occurred during a Roco CSRT stand-by job at a local industrial plant. After LOTO had supposedly been performed, one of our team members decided to test it by pushing the “Start” button on a hyper bar in a tank – it turned “ON!” Further investigation revealed that electrical work had been done in the area and the fuse lock-out was moved to another box adjacent to its original location. No one had notified the workers or changed the written protocol. Workers were locking out the wrong circuit! Had this been a rescue, how would rescuers control the hazard without knowing where the problem was with the LOTO?

Conclusion

It is clear that rescuers need to look deeper into their technique toolbox for creative options to isolate energy sources in order to protect themselves as well as the victim. And, this doesn’t only apply to municipal rescuers. Industrial rescue teams are very likely to be called when an emergency like this occurs. In order to be proactive and prepared, take the time in advance to evaluate your response capabilities as well as that of local responders in your immediate area. Every minute is critical for that person trapped or injured.

1 Standard Interpretation: Clarification of "authorized" and "affected" employees and proper energy control procedures, Feb 10, 2004, question #3

Additional Resources

 

 

1 2 3 4 5

RescueTalk™ (RocoRescue.com) has been created as a free resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and others who are interested in technical rope rescue. Therefore, we make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Users and readers are 100% responsible for their own actions in every situation. Information presented on this website in no way replaces proper training!