From an employee who is assigned a job as a confined space technician, the process of getting a job lined up and getting staff to the job site with all the right equipment can be a mystery and probably taken for granted. For the Project Manager, getting the ok from a client to proceed with the job may be the easiest part of the project, its the logistics that can be the headache.
When we arrived to assist a client with cleaning a grain silo – we were excited. The staff would be getting some Rope Access hours and no one had entered these silos in close to 8 years. The silo we were to enter had product stuck inside – about 20’ deep. The product had been stuck for close to 4 months.
In February 2015, WorkSafe BC added a new regulation to the OHS Regulations – Part 34, Rope Access. While it is defined in the regulations, generally working on rope in BC now falls under three categories; Bosun (Boatswain) Chair, Rope Access or Rescue. Ronin, due to our confined space and rescue backgrounds, regularly obtains rope access work in confined spaces.
Ronin was recently contacted regarding confined space rescue standby for a large water reservoir measuring 100 feet high and 40 feet in diameter. Our client indicated they preferred putting staff into the water to clean the space as it was drained. With this information Ronin began looking at confined space and water rescue options in addition to safe work procedures for the project (all of which Ronin can provide). Ronin was eventually asked if we could provide not only the rescue standby but also all required documentation and the swimmers to clean the tank. Always up for challenges, we said yes!
The project started with our CRSP performing a site inspection and creating the hazard assessment, entry procedures, safe work procedures including the use of chlorine, decontamination and lock out. One of our rescue technicians assisted by creating the rescue plan, taking into account any concerns regarding confined space, fall protection, high angle and the 8 degree Celsius water.
Once the documentation was complete we gathered our team and reviewed the documentation. We also “game planned” a few “what if” scenarios regarding both rescue (regular work for us) and swimming around the inside of a water reservoir with brooms (not so regular for us).
Our members entered the space wearing dry suits, protective boots, fins, PFD’s, masks, gloves, neoprene balaclavas and sitting in belly boats. They used medium bristle brooms to remove the “film” off of the walls. We found the team of two could continually “lap” the reservoir and effectively clean at the discharge flow rate. Once the water in the reservoir reached a pre-designated level we removed the staff and sucked the remaining water out. We then went back into the reservoir to finish the cleaning. Once the cleaning was complete we utilized chlorine to disinfect the tank as per AWWA Method 2.
We swapped the swimmers out on a regular basis as an administrative control for fatigue and cold exposure. The external crew was responsible for site first aid, rescue standby, and disinfection of gear that entered and decontamination of gear that left the space. We used 12.5mm static kernmantle rope for fall protection while staff where climbing any ladders or in the space when required. For the rescue standby gear we used 11.1mm static kernmantle rope with the Arizona Vortex as our high point.
This job was interesting as we provided all the required services ranging from the preplanning stage, documentation, completing the required job tasks and ensuring the safety of all workers by providing first aid and rescue standby.
This is exactly what Ronin is all about, providing full service solutions to our clients.
You’ve administratively and logistically prepared and implemented the planning for a Client’s month-long shutdown. You are providing a two-person Technical Rescue – Emergency Response Team, for 24/7 coverage. The shutdown consists of multiple entries into a multitude of confined spaces and work areas that are awkward to access at the best of times. You will possibly be conducting evacuation of injured workers out of these spaces – via technical rope rescue systems. At some point during the shut-down, the client approaches you with a conundrum: “We need to get a worker into five areas, unreachable by conventional means, is there some way you can assist us with this?” The conundrum is an expansion of your role as a “Rescue Provider” and now puts you into a different scope of work (SOW). How do you respond to this?
“No problem, we can do that” was the response of Ronin’s Team. Ronin has, from its grass roots origins, a ‘can do’ attitude. “We have always had the mindset of being able to accept any challenge a client may have and figure out how best to attack it”. So much so, that one of Ronin’s unofficial mottos is: WDDS (We Do Dat S**t), reflecting the, “Heck ya we can; we accept your problem as our challenge” attitude.
The Ronin Safety & Rescue team were faced with the problem of lowering a worker into five ducts and chutes, up to 40’ in length and with awkward access points, approx. 28” – 36” in diameter. The worker would be applying shot-crete insulation via “spray on” application. This was presented to Ronin near the end of the workweek. During the weekend, Ronin was able to create a (safe work procedure) SWP, gather the equipment, and be ready for a Monday morning start on this “project within a project”. Things were further complicated as the need for hot work (welding and grinding) could also occur while suspended on the rope system. Needless to say, those work activities and ropes do not play well together.
Utilizing a Terradaptor, Ronin created an Artificial High Directional (AHD) at the access points of the chutes. The rope ran through this AHD, and down into the access point. All of the ‘control’ was kept out side the space, as the worker was not skilled in rope work.
Utilizing the Terradaptor as an Artificial High Directional (AHD)
The team used a 12.5mm static Kernmantle rope for a mainline. This was controlled with a SMC Brake rack, and attached to a bosun chair to lower the worker. Ronin chose 12.5mm rope due to the abuse the rope would take from being covered in abrasive concrete. This same reasoning was the basis for choosing a brake bar rack as it had fewer moving parts for the concrete to affect. The worker was raised via the “old School” change over to a haul prussic, ratchet prussic/pulley and piggy back 4:1. This method was chosen once again for best use under greatest abuse circumstances. The worker was suspended in a Yates Voyager harness attached to a Petzl Podium. The podium has a small profile and fit in the narrow spaces well. Besides being heavier (concrete), the Petzl Podium is still in service. The worker was ‘attached’ to a 11mm static safety or back up line via 30” dynamic lanyard and DMM Buddy. The Buddy was cleaned each time the worker exited the space and overall we were pleased with its performance. Despite being fully functional, we have removed it from service due to exposure to the fine abrasive material and not being able to fully inspect the inner workings. The self-closing, self-locking carabineers on the other hand, are permanently cemented shut resulting in having to cut the ropes, as we could not open them.
The additional work did not cause the client’s shutdown any delays. The project completed on time and in a safe and effective manner. This is another example of Ronin’s ability to adapt to a situation on the fly and provide our clients with workable and economical solutions. Ronin prides itself of this guiding principle; the feedback from satisfied clients indicates the time and cost saving solutions are truly one of a kind.