Standby Logistics: How Hard Can it Be?
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 one thinks about the logistics of a job, what do we need to consider? Staffing aside, it’s about moving staff and equipment from deployment stage to the job site.
It’s not just ‘the equipment’ it’s the ‘right’ equipment. For the purpose of this blog, lets just look at the ‘right equipment’.
What is the ‘right equipment’?
How does a project manager know what needs to be sent to a particular job?
Again, for simplicity, lets focus on a Confined Space Rescue Standby job.
In this case, there are a few important documents which will ensure that the proper equipment is chosen for this particular deployment. Referencing the Confined Space Hazard Assessment and Entry Procedures will give you a good idea of ‘what the workers’ will need to safely enter the space to conduct the work required. Remember that this identified equipment and procedure is for the worker. As a Confined Space Rescue team, you have to assume that if there is a failure in any of these controls you will not have the luxury of the Entry Procedure controls to mitigate the hazards. Always thinking worst case scenario will ensure you are ready to deal with any emergency. Referencing the Rescue Procedure or plan will also assist you in allocating the right gear for the job. Finally with regards to the equipment, are the staff trained on the equipment that is required?
There are times where you may have multiple brands of a piece of equipment and staff may or may not be familiar or comfortable with it. For example, we own a SKEDCO tripod, Arizona Vortex, a PMI Terradaptor and several tripod/self-retracting lifelines. Some of these are more complicated to use but more versatile in their use than the others. The question to ask is: Does the tripod I’ve chosen, meet the site requirements and are my staff comfortable and competent in it’s use. Another question may be, “Can I use a tripod and Self-Retracting lifeline”? or will i need to use a tripod and rope rigging. What about ventilation requirements? What is required by the confined space documentation? Can I achieve that with what I’ve chosen? Do I need multiple fans? Do I need intrinsically safe equipment? Again, these requirements can be found on the entry procedures for the confined space. While we are on ventilation equipment, how are we ensuring a safe atmosphere? What are the atmospheric monitoring requirements? Does the entrant need to have a monitor? Is there a specific contaminant we are aware of and need to monitor? if so, we may require specific type of monitor to test for specific contaminants.
Finally, there is the physical act of moving equipment to the client’s site and the security of this equipment. At times there may be confusion from a client who expects your team to be able to use the equipment to allow them to perform work. While this is achievable it needs to be communicated prior to deployment. Generally the equipment we bring to site is reserved for rescue. It is designed for that and must remain available and ready to deploy as rescue equipment. If a tripod or a fan for example is employed as a ‘working device’, when a rescue is required, how can we ensure that is employed as part of the rescue as needed? Finally, once the job is completed, we need to move that equipment back to the shop, it needs to be cleaned, inspected for serviceability, use logged and put back on the shelves for the next job.
This deployment and return of gear can become more complex when the clients location becomes remote or a long distance away. We have flown rescue equipment via fixed wing and rotary aircraft to the Arctic, across Canada and to sites in Europe and Cuba. These situations require project managers to make decisions based on weight, size and other logistic factors that can cause operational concerns on site. For instance flying with calibration gas is forbidden. Locally sourced monitors are required in these cases. As well generally the less the amount of equipment sent to a site, the greater the skill of the team must be.
All in all, the logistics behind the job is usually more complex than landing the contract and staffing it. it is an ongoing part of the project and probably one of the most important aspects of it.