Thursday, October 11, 2012

Going Down? Self-Rescue Beats Hanging Around

The US OSHA and UK HSE Fall Protection standards include a requirement that a rescue plan be in-place before climbing operations begin.  Calling 911 is not a rescue plan.  When a worker is hanging in a fall protection harness they can be subject to suspension trauma, so getting them down to terra-firma (the more firmer, the less terror) is the first priority.

Suspension trauma is the shut-down of the circulatory system due to the constrictions placed on the body by the fall protection harness.  There are kits that you can supplement on your climbing gear that will deploy a short set of bootstraps that tie back to the suspension D-Ring and will allow you to 'stand-up' and take some of the pressure off of your leg and waist fittings, but this is only a temporary solution to the problem.

The OSHA / HSE rescue requirements allow for self-rescue.  This can be a real time saver, as getting to a rescue kit, taking it up to an attachment point above the fallen worker, and reaching or rappelling down to attach the kit, then lowering the fall victim to the ground can be very time-consuming.  Here are three self-rescue solutions that are worthy of consideration:


The DUES 3700 is a small hands-free speed controlled descender that can be pre-attached to your climbing gear and deployed as-needed, or it can be pre-deployed and ready to go.  It can be used with up to 500 feet of rope.

The 3700 features quadruple-redundant braking, automatic speed-limiting technology, hands-free descent, and a speed control dial to control descent with just two fingers. Plus, the ropes can be replaced so it’s cost-effective and versatile.  The unit can be reused repeatedly.  More info at:


The Latchways PRD (Personal Rescue Device) is a backpack module that is fully-integrated with the climbing harness and preconnected to the fall arrest lanyard.  If you fall, you just reach up to your shoulder and pull a release cord that unlocks the descender and it lowers you to the ground.  Current models have a 65 foot rescue rope, and longer options are forthcoming. One drawback to this system is that you must send the unit to a Latchways service center to have it reset for the next use.  More info at:


The Petzel EXO personal escape system is a manually operated self-braking descender packaged with rope, carbiners and a easy carry pouch.  Originally designed for the NYFD, this is a lightweight and reliable solution.  The unit can be reused repeatedly.  More info at:


Climb Safe:
Plan the Climb.  Plan the Rescue.
Climb the plan.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fire in Walls and Attic of Madison Union Theatre

October 8, 2012. Madison, Wisconsin.   A small fire started Monday morning at approximately 7:35 a.m. in a portion of the attic of Wisconsin Union Theater that is currently under construction.  Smoke was seen pouring out of the north side and roof of the 73-year-old theater.  Despite some problems getting to the hard-to-reach attic above the theatre, the fire was under control by 7:55am.

The Madison Fire Department firefighters were called to the scene at 7:38am and arrived three minutes later. The first crew on the scene reported a large amount of smoke coming from the side and roof of the building. A second alarm was requested to bring additional firefighters and equipment to the scene.

A fire crew entered the building and saw fire burning along the walls near the ceiling of the theater. They quickly extinguished the visible flames and began searching for access to the attic. Once an access door for the attic was located, firefighters pulled a water hose up into the attic.  They found a large fire burning in the smoke filled attic. They extinguished all visible fire and began searching for any hot spots in the walls and ceiling.

Though the main portion of the building is isolated from the theater wing, it was evacuated as a precaution.  There were no injuries to anyone working on the project.  School officials said the extent of the loss was limited because the building was already gutted for renovation and was already cleared of items like seats.  Police said the fire caused an estimated $10,000 in smoke and water damage, but the building did not suffer any structural damage.

The fire started as a result of cutting work being performed by a demolition crew. They torch cut into a section of wall that had some waxed paper content.  According to one firefighter "It started in a wall. We had a report of a worker that was doing some cutting and it got into a shaft ... from that cutting procedure that he had done... and burned up through a shaft in the wall into the attic space."

Friday, October 5, 2012


When it comes to OSHA compliance,  proper workplace signage can be your first line of defense against being cited for failure to post hazard communications.  The October DuraLabel newsletter hits the nail on the [zombie's] head this month, and they have been so kind as to allow us to re-post their timely information here.

DuraNews - Industrial Labelling Report
ZOMBIE Signs must be OSHA Compliant
Hazard check for October:  Maintain walkways to eliminate soggy leaves; adjust outdoor lighting; get brake jobs for auto fleet; and most importantly – protect your workers from zombie invasions.

As the undead begin to encroach during the waning daylight hours, it’s critical to make sure your safety signs are OSHA-compliant.  OSHA’s primary hazard classifications for danger, warning, caution, and biohazard are designed to be noticed – important when you want to ensure your employees show up for work alive the next day.  Use the following information to keep your employees safe, and at the same time avoid being cited by OSHA.

Danger signs indicate an immediate hazard which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury.  Danger signs should be reserved for the most serious hazards and signify special precautions are necessary.

The DANGER signal word is printed in  white letters on a red background  and preceded by the safety alert symbol.  The message panel, beneath the signal word, is where the safety message is printed, usually in black or red over white.  You can also print in white over a black safety panel.  Pictograms may be used to help workers recognize hazards sooner and from safe distances.

Warning signs are one hazard level below danger signs.  They describe a hazard which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.

The WARNING signal word is written in  black on an orange background  header and proceeded by a safety alert symbol.  The text in the message panel may be printed in white letters on a black panel or black letters on a white panel.  Warning signs and labels can be any size and printed in a landscape or portrait format.  Keep in mind, alternative design and color options should only be used to improve worker comprehension.

A caution sign indicates a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, may result in minor or moderate injury.  Caution signs are used in areas where potential injury or equipment damage is possible, or to caution against unsafe practices.  Caution signs should only be used if there is a risk of personal injury.

The CAUTION signal word is written in  black letters on a yellow background  and is preceded by a safety alert symbol, except when used for a non-personal injury.  The message panel below the signal word contains the safety message and any additional safety symbols.  Everything printed inside the message panel is black text on white or white text on black.

OSHA 1910.1459(e)(4) states, “The biological hazard warnings shall be used to signify the actual or potential presence of a biohazard and to identify equipment, containers, rooms, materials, experimental animals, or combinations thereof, which contain, or are contaminated with, viable hazardous agents… presenting a risk or potential risk to the well-being of man.”  The symbol design must conform with the example shown and contain the word “BIOHAZARD" or “BIOLOGICAL HAZARD.”

The biohazard symbol can be black, fluorescent orange, or an orange-red color.  Background color is optional as long as there is sufficient contrast for the biohazard symbol to be clearly defined.  A biohazard can also be indicated on a danger or warning sign and may include the safety alert symbol.  If incapacitated zombies are strewn about your work area, they should be tagged with biohazard signs.

Not included the DuraNews article was the correct use of ANSI NOTICE signs, so:

A notice sign provides information regarding operational policies.  Notice signs are used to inform workers about operational procedures that may affect safety or to instruct workers that specific PPE is required in the workplace.

Notice signs may include other graphic symbols to convey intent.  The NOTICE signal word is written in  white letters on a blue background , or  blue letters on a white background .  The message panel below the signal word contains the policy message and any additional safety symbols.  Everything printed inside the message panel is black text on white.

For more information about signage, labels, and markers that are useful around your production environment, go to DuraLabel's web site.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Keeping Dents Out of Co-workers Noggins

Ty-Flot, makers of tool restraint lanyards, has introduced a new way to work with drop prevention equipped tools and tool belts.  The Quick-Switch system allows the use of a short lanyard that fits between the tool and the worker's wrist so that long floppy lanyards are eliminated.

Conventional lanyards that are tied-off to work belts and climbing harnesses must be long enough to facilitate using the tool at extreme reach positions.  These longer lanyards allow dropped tools to travel farther and pick-up more speed before they are restrained.  If the tool lanyard loops over a railing, it can swing back and strike a worker severely.

The Quick-Switch lanyard connection on the short lanyards allow tools to change hands, and be stored without presenting large loops to snag on protruding objects around the worker.

More info at:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Event Safety Alliance moves forward on US Event Safety Guide

The Event Safety Alliance (ESA) has solidified plans to move forward with publishing an Americanized version of the widely-used U.K. guide of best practices in the event production industry, The Event Safety Guide also known as The Purple Guide.

First published in the UK in 1999, The Event Safety Guide is a 33 chapter event production primer covering best practices for event production safety.  The chapters include planning and management recommendations to specific topics such as electrical installation, sanitation, structures, and 30 other key elements for safe event production at every style and size event.  The forum for suggestions at is still open for comments.

Event Safety Alliance spokesperson, Jim Digby stated, "This is a collaborative effort by some of the best minds in the industry lending their expertise in the specific areas of event production safety they are most qualified in.  This collaboration will provide event professionals with a reference guide that is more than a starting point to find solutions to common problems in attendee safety."  Digby is one of the founders of the organization and has testified before legislatures in regards to event safety procedures.

Although there is strong leadership at the ESA, the group maintains that “YOU ARE THE EVENT SAFETY ALLIANCE, and that input is needed through the web site from all industry professionals.
John Brown, another founder of the Event Safety Alliance, went on to say, "The Event Safety Guide brings together information needed by event organizers, their contractors and employees to help them prioritize safety in all aspects of event production."

The Event Safety Alliance will be conducting meetings and seminars at this year's Event Live Expo ( to be held in Los Angeles, February 5-7, 2013 on the Event Deck at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.  Seminar topics will be announced soon.

Jim Digby states, "It is our hope to have the project completed by the Event Live Expo.  However, this could be a project that comes in installments."  To help expedite the project, the ESA has enlisted Timeless Communications (the publishers of the Event Production Directory [EPD], Front of House [FOH], Projection, Lights and Staging News [PLSN], and Stage Directions) to spearhead the production and editing of the book.