ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 5, 2015) – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District, Operations Division personnel recently went to new heights to prevent accidents by completing fall and rescue protection training.
“You can’t put a price tag on a life and you can never practice too much safety,” said Kyle Tanner, Nashville District Safety chief. “While the ultimate goal of fall protection is to prevent a fall from happening, the reality is that falls from heights are a daily occurrence somewhere in the workplace and we want to make sure if it happens, we know what to do.”
James Sowell, Operations Safety officer and Crane and Hoist Program manager, coordinated with multiple course instructors from Capital Safety 3M to provide classes in rescue training, authorized users, competent person, and competent rescuer.
Sowell said from June to December 2015 more than 140 district employees attended 15 fall protection and rescue training classes at the Lake Barkley, Cordell Hull Lake, Lake Cumberland, and Cheatham Lake projects, and Wilson Lock, and at the Cumberland River Operations Center.
“This is great to see guys understand the importance of training and enjoying the participation,” said Sowell.
A group of 25 maintenance workers, mechanics, electricians and safety personnel spent two days in a classroom literally hanging from metal ladders and buildings practicing hands-on field exercises, teaching the basics of self-rescue, as well as assisting a fall victim.
Sowell said that even though it is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement, the need for rescue from a fall is often overlooked by many facilities that are required to use fall protection. The course is designed for all employees who work at heights and includes hands-on interactive sessions with demonstration, written exams, and field exercises. Participants learn the basics of self-rescue as well as assisting a fall victim.
The competent person class is for employees who, by training, knowledge and experience are capable of the implementation, supervision and monitoring of the employer’s fall protection rescue program.
The authorized rescuer class is for employees assigned by the employer to perform fall protection rescues.
Sowell said class specific topics covered regulations, hazard elimination and control methods, fall protection procedures, inspections, componets.
“This training is critical because we have mechanics, electricians, maintenance and engineers attending this training and they work in this environment every day,” said Sowell. “These are the men and women working at the locks, dams, powerhouses, in and around cranes.”
The district’s goal is to certify training for rescue personnel and this includes requirements for different levels of responsibility. Operations Division personnel have completed 95 percent of the required training.
Tim Metzger, senior trainer for Capital Safety from Orange County Training Center in Orange County, Calif., said falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries. Deaths and decades of experience in protecting workers exposed to fall hazards has resulted in new codes of practice which include important provisions for retrieving workers after their fall has been stopped he said.
Metzger said rescue after a fall must be a pre-planned and coordinated event. Current best-practices call for a thoughtful approach to retrieve a fallen worker as soon as possible without endangering the lives of those who must conduct the rescue operation.
Grant Bingham, an electrician from Cordell Hull Dam, is one of the first participants to practice the rescue and rescuer exercise.
“If I ever got in a situation where I needed assistance I feel confident this could save my life,” Bingham said.
Tanner said by integrating risk management principles, additional Safety and Occupation the Health Office staff oversight and proactive development of site specific training and safety plans, the team's efforts resulted in zero reportable incidents and injuries at Nashville District's major maintenance activities.
In November 2015, Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, Nashville District commander, presented Corps employees from the Tennessee River Operations Center, Cumberland River Operations Center and Fleet repair crews a Safety and Health Award for their safe execution of the 2015 major maintenance projects throughout the district. The maintenance team members were recognized for maintaining a high standard of safety at Wheeler Lock, Wilson Lock, and Old Hickory Lock maintenance projects during the Fiscal Year 2015 work season, all without a loss-time incident.
"There were 1,692 hours worked at the three dewaterings. Each lock had two shifts, and our employees worked those hours without so much as a smashed finger,” said Murphy.
Metzger said safety is always the number one priority, ensuring everyone is wearing the proper protection equipment and it is key that everyone know proper job techniques.
According to Sowell, it takes patience and is a timely process for mechanics and electricians to learn new techniques and safety practices.
“It takes patience through a team effort, but this is why we have training,” said Sowell. “It’s good to practice this and be assured if someone needs a hand, it is there.”
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)