Did you know that today, May 1st, is national space day? We here at Hercules Group of Companies wanted to participate in the fun spirit of today by having a look at some of the ways rigging and fall protection equipment is used in outer space!
Yes, you heard us right – Rigging is essential in many different sectors, and space exploration is included on that list, how cool?! Check out these 5 ways rigging and fall protection equipment like wire rope, harnesses and shackles make space exploration possible:
1. Specially Designed Steel Rope Riser Cables – Orion Spacecraft
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
In order for the Orion spacecraft to safety return to Earth, it relies on it’s parachute – a parachute that’s equipped with specially designed steel rope riser cables! in 2014, NASA conducted a test flight for the Orion Space Capsule where after making two orbits of the Earth, it reentered the atmosphere and was brought to a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
2. Cicoil engineered Biomedical Harness – Apollo 11
When Neil Armstrong took his historic first step on the surface of the Moon, he was wearing a bio-belt that was fitted with a Cicoil engineered Biomedical Harness. This harness took the typical safety measures of a lead and harness and kicked it up a notch, with special biotelemetry technology that allowed for tracking vital signs of the astronauts, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, body temperature, and pulse rate to be recorded and evaluated.
Since at the time they were uncertain of the effects on the human body associated with Space flight, this elevated harness allowed for surgeons at the Ground Command Center in Houston to identify problems in real-time and provide quick solutions. Without this important piece of what we like to think of as EXTREMELY elevated fall protection, who can say that the Moon landing expedition would have been possible.
3. Exercise Countermeasures – ISS
The human body goes through a lot when going into space, and negative effects on the body can be associated with long periods spent in space. NASA uses exercise countermeasures on the International Space Station (ISS) in order to maintain their crew’s health and combat these negative effects. Most of these countermeasure exercise systems rely heavily on textile and wire rope as well as fall protection style systems and harnesses.
There are many different specially designed exercise machines used in space. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about these, click here for some examples! In the photo here you see an astronaut using a specially designed version of a treadmill, strapped in using a lead and harness to allow him to complete his workout without floating away!
4. PBI Fiber Rope Sleep Restraint – Apollo 11
Looking at another example from the famous Apollo 11, sleep restraints were made out 10-foot PBI (polybenzimidazole) fiber rope with plastic ferrules on the ends to prevent fraying. Sleeping bags were latched to the center aisle of sleeping quarters using this special rope. This is a system that at its core is still in place in modern space exploration, but has of course been updated.
The photo featured here is one of the five ropes flown on the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. These were transferred to the Smithsonian in 1970 as important aspects of history being made in space exploration!
No matter how out of this world the project – Hercules SLR is here to support you every step of the way.
Did you know that rooftop falls are responsible for a third of fatal construction falls? Rooftop falls can be a “perfect storm” when it comes to falling hazards, because oftentimes they are from a height high enough to cause serious injury, but low enough that you have little time to react or re-position yourself.
Rooftop falls happen too often, and when they do, they are incredibly dangerous. But the good news is, rooftop falls are easily avoided with proper understanding of hazards and how to combat them.
Did you know that many rooftop accidents and injuries don’t occur on the rooftop at all, but happen while accessing it? Proper training on ladder and climbing safety is an extremely important part of rooftop safety. Accidents can happen on the way up and on the way down, so always make sure you’re properly secured and taking the right steps, even when the day is over and you’re excited to get down and head home. And remember, ALWAYS ensure your equipment used to access the roof is properly stabilized and the roof itself is inspected and safe.
2. Roof Construction and Equipment
The roof itself and how it is built can also present a hazard. Things like pipes and vents installed on the roof can be tripping hazards or may stang your gear or tools. Roofs may also have variable heights, soft spots, cracks or loose material that can cause you to lose your footing. Because of this, it’s extremely important to always be aware of your surroundings when working on a roof. A helpful tip is to always make sure your footing is firm before actually shifting your weight – Take the time you need to slowly and safely travel while on a rooftop.
3. Obstructed Views and Poor Edge Awareness
When working on a rooftop, always keep the edge location in the back of your mind. Try to avoid the edge being out of your line of vision as much as possible, and when working in areas that block your view of the edge, be aware and proceed with extra caution. If you’re working in a darker environment, proper lighting must be used to provide a brightly lit workspace. Far too often workers approach the edge without realizing or assume the edge is much farther away than it actually is – Even if you think you have more then enough space, it can creep up on you faster then you think!
4. Structural failure
As we mentioned in #1, it’s important that rooftops be inspected before workers access it, but unfortunately, this doesn’t always eliminate all of the risk. Damage to a roof may not always be obvious, and sometimes you’re the guy being called in to fix the damage, so you can’t avoid it. The best way to keep yourself safe in these situations is to test the strength of the roof before you progress. All rooftop workers should receive training on what to do if they feel the roof begins to fail beneath them. If you question the strength or structural integrity of the roof at all, do not proceed.
But That’s Not All…
By keeping these hazards in mind and doing everything you can to combat them, many rooftop injuries can be avoided. But of course, preventing fall hazards is only one aspect of protecting yourself and your employees. Proper fall protection gear is the other very large aspect of rooftop safety. Fall protection is necessary because no matter how careful you are, accidents can ALWAYS happen, and when they do, your fall protection gear will reduce the amount of damage that will occur, should a fall happen.
If you’re working at a height exceeding 3 meters (10 feet) occupational health and safety laws generally require fall protection measures to be in place. You can check with your jurisdiction as requirements do vary, but in most cases fall protection measures are required. That’s where things like roofers kits and other fall protection equipment come into play. Roofers kits are a great tool for general fall protection while working on a roof, because it provides you with everything you need to safely secure yourself. But, Hercules SLR offers a wide range of fall protection equipment and our experts would be happy to set you up with the right equipment based on your needs – All it takes is a quick phone call or email!
Check out this video for a quick reminder on how to secure yourself to a roof:
No amount of safety tips will ever replace proper training! The Hercules Training Academy offers a Fall Protection course that provides students with the fundamental knowledge of working at heights safely. This program meets and exceeds the local regulations, industry standards, and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Get in contact now to bring your safety to the next level while working on a roof (or at any height!)
Calculating fall distance
Donning a harness
Selecting fall protection equipment
Fall protection plans and procedures
Selecting anchor points
Elevated Work Platforms
The program is a combination of theory and demonstration. Students are evaluated by means of a written test. Upon successful completion of the program, a certificate will be issued.
Training is delivered at the Hercules Training Academy or can also be delivered on-site.
LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETYTRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.
Did you know that approximately 18% of those time-loss injuries, or about 42,000 workers a year, are injured due to fall incidents alone? You can prevent falls and incidents like these by wearing proper fall protection equipment, and wearing it right.
If you’re working at a height exceeding 3 meters (10 feet) occupational health and safety laws generally require fall protection measures to be in place. You can check with your jurisdiction as requirements do vary, but in most cases fall protection measures such as fixed barriers, surface opening protections, control zones, fall or travel restraint systems, fall containment systems or fall arrest systems are required. You can learn more about some of these systems by reading our fall protection glossary.
But it’s not good enough just to throw on the required minimum fall protection equipment and call it a day – It’s important the equipment be used properly.
In this blog, we will be talking a bit about 7 common misuses of fall protection equipment, to serve as a reminder for things to look out for, but should be used in conjunction with proper training. The Hercules Training Academy offers an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses, including a course on fall protection!
1. Misuse of Rebar Snap Hooks
Rebar hooks (also referred to as pelican hooks, large gates or form hooks) are frequently used pieces of equipment in the fall protection world because their large openings make them quick and easy to use. They also allow for connection to many objects, eliminating the need for additional anchorage connectors. However, not using an additional connector can be very dangerous in the wrong circumstances and rebar hooks are only approved for specific configurations so if you use them outside of those configurations, it can present a safety hazard to workers.
The best way to mitigate the misuse of rebar snap hooks is to ensure that the anchorage connector D-ring is larger than the snap hook to avoid side loading. Since this is difficult to achieve, oftentimes workers choose to use a small anchor strap instead with some workplaces not allowing the use of snap hooks all together!
2. Misuse of Lanyards
A common mistake made with lanyards is users wrapping them back upon themselves. Most fall arrest lanyards are not designed to wrap around a structure and hook onto themselves, but a worker may try to set it up in that way if no other anchorage point is available. This can cause equipment failure due to damaged to the lanyard material or improper gate loading. This problem can be solved with anchorage straps, which are designed to be wrapped back on themselves – providing the proper strength needed to be safe while also remaining accessible.
Furthermore, regardless of if a lanyard is designed for wrapping around beams, piping, ductwork, or around a guardrail, with time, the sawing action could damage it. This problem can be mitigated by using a beam clamp or beam straps as an anchorage connector.
3. Inappropriate Anchorage Connection or Strength
A fall protection system is only as effective as its anchorage. Always ensure the anchorage is strong enough to support the weight of the individual wearing it in the case of a fall. To be sure you can rely on your fall protection equipment, always test the strength of the connection after set up.
To be certain you have the right anchorage strength, only use certified anchorages and make sure there is always someone on the scene with the correct training to properly identify the appropriate anchorage to use for the circumstances of the job. Since the average weight of the individuals using the fall protection system will very, the anchorage system must be designed for the maximum weight of any potential users.
4. Anchoring Below The Dorsal D-Ring
Another common misuse of fall protection systems is workers anchoring themselves to a point below their dorsal D-Ring (sometimes even below their feet). This increases the free fall weight and distance, sometimes beyond the equipment’s ability to arrest it. Pushing these limits can cause the lanyard or anchorage to fall, or can exceed the allowable force on the body, which can increase the likelihood of a serious injury.
The goal is always to minimize free-fall distances, so connecting to a point above the dorsal D-ring should be the choice if in any way possible. However, if there is no overhead structure to provide an anchorage point, the worker must use a free-fall lanyard that is approved for the greater free-fall distance and force.
5. Unproperly Adjusted Harnesses
For fall protection equipment to be used correctly and effectively, workers must be wearing their equipment correctly. Most fall protection harnesses are designed with adjustable leg, waist, shoulder, and chest straps, which all must be sized to the user. A fall protection system is no good if you can’t stay in it, which is exactly the risk presented if the harness is not tightened properly to the user’s body. As you can imagine, being ejected from a harness mid-fall can lead to serious injury.
Here’s what to look for to ensure a harness is fitted correctly:
The dorsal D-ring sits between the worker’s shoulders blades – If it’s adjusted too high, the metal hardware could cause injury to the user’s head and if it’s adjusted too low, the user can be left hanging in a poor position with an increased risk of suspension trauma.
The chest strap should lie across the user’s chest at the base of the sternum – If it’s too high on the user’s chest, it can cause a choking hazard in the case of a fall by putting pressure on the user’s neck.
Shoulder straps cannot be pulled off of the user’s shoulders or outward.
Sub-pelvic straps are positioned under the buttocks.
Leg straps are tightened to a point where four fingers can fit between the strap and the user’s leg, but cannot pull away from the leg.
General observation of harness fit – Looking for things like twisted straps or asymmetrical leg straps.
6. Using Damaged or Recalled Equipment
Everything from UV exposer, corrosion, wear and tear and everything in between can impact the effectiveness of your fall protection equipment. You can avoid UV and corrosion damage by storing your equipment properly when not in use, but some amount of wear and tear cannot be avoided if you’re actually using your equipment, which is what it’s made for after all! Because of this, all users should be trained on what to look for when inspecting equipment to ensure that it is in proper working order to operate safely.
Steps to ensure your equipment is always in safe working condition:
Although these two devices sometimes look and function similar, a common mistake people make is thinking twin-leg energy absorbing & self-retracting lifeline devices are the same or interchangeable. However, since they are designed and tested for specific conditions, it’s important they are used for those appropriate applications.
The self-retracting lifeline (SRL) vs. energy-absorbing lifeline (EAL) is a topic of lively debate among fall protection engineers because both devices have their benefits but the general consensus is that an SRL is preferable in an industrial environment where an overhead horizontal system is (or can be) installed and an EAL is preferable in a construction environment where workers typically do not have access to an overhead anchorage point.
The Hercules Training Academy is open with brand new classrooms and specialized training equipment enable us to provide an even higher quality of service than ever before when it comes to safety training. Through our Hercules Training Academy, we offer an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements.
In our Fall Protection course, you will learn: regulations, hazard assessments, pre-use inspections, calculating fall distance, donning a harness, selecting fall protection equipment, fall protection plans and procedures, selecting anchor points, ladders, elevated work platforms, suspension trauma
We can customize courses to fit your workplace’s specific needs. We are always willing to design a course (or multiple courses) specifically for you!
LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETYTRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.
PPE Fall Protection devices were used in the early 20th Century by many professionals, although they used rope lanyards made of natural fibers, such as manila hemp, and simple body belts with no shock-absorbing properties. Clarence W. Rose–who early in his career was a window washer–became a pioneer in fall protection when he started the Rose Mfg. Co. in 1934 and began producing safety belts and lanyards for window washers. On Nov. 24, 1959, Rose was awarded a patent for an easy-to-use cable connector for safety belts that also had some shock-absorbing properties (U.S. Patent 2,914,139). Listed in the patent was a statement that the connector could, among other things, “be adapted to slip somewhat responsive to a sudden jerk as when the safety rope checks the fall of a wearer and thereby eases the shock to the wearer incurred by checking the fall.”
PPE Fall Protection: shock-absorption major leap forward
Joseph Feldstein, manager of Technical Services at MSA, which purchased the Rose Mfg. Co. in 1996, said the idea of a shock absorber was a major step forward in protecting against the large braking forces generated in arresting falls, especially during Rose’s time.
“If you can imagine, workers with a simple belt and lanyard arrangement that was common up until that point would be exposed to a fall that could not only damage them internally because of the forces exerted to the soft tissues of the abdomen around the belt, but also you could generate such forces that you could separate the lanyard,” he said.
Rose continued to develop his shock-absorbing concept and was awarded several patents for newer and better shock absorbers. Ultimately, his designs influenced the creation of the modern-day shock absorber. Rose also received many other patents related in some way to preventing or protecting workers from falls. An example is the patent for an early “Ladder Climber” harness system (U.S. Patent 2,886,227) that contains two hook lanyards that are both attached to a harness. While ascending or descending, a worker grasps one hook in each hand and secures them over alternating ladder rungs.
Decades later, the industry would see the emergence of locking snap hook connectors and full-body harnesses, both gaining much more acceptance in the 1980s. In 1990, OSHA enacted regulation 1910.66. Craig Firl, product marketing manager in Hardgoods for Capital Safety-USA, said appendix C in this regulation was the key to getting several areas of fall protection technology up to date.
“Even though that particular standard at that time allowed for non-locking-type hooks to be used in a fall protection-type system, they recommended the locking type to be used because they were safer hooks and more compatible,” Firl said.
PPE Fall Protection: more hardware than ever
Feldstein agreed, adding that the acceptance of the locking snap hook led to the creation of a whole new series of connecting anchorage systems: straps, D-rings, and more. “And that’s continued to evolve to its current state, where we now have personalized anchorage connectors for almost every application, whether it’s building construction or general industry,” he said. Even though body belts were still allowed, Feldstein said appendix C acknowledged that OSHA recognized full-body harnesses as a major innovation in fall arrest. “Belts are still permissible in positioning, but in a fall, you definitely want to be protected by a full-body harness. It distributes the load across your chest and the bony mass of your hip, where your body is most capable of absorbing a blow, and it protects the soft tissue of the abdomen,” Feldstein said.
Two years after 1910.66 arrived, the ANSI committee released standard Z359.1, the key fall protection standard in use today. Most notably, it required the use of full-body harnesses and self-locking snap hooks. Firl said this voluntary compliance standard put pressure on OSHA to recognize that its existing standard needed updating and encouraged the completion of another fall protection standard for the construction industry, Subpart M, in 1995. According to this standard, as of Jan. 1, 1998, the use of body belts and non-locking snap hooks was prohibited.
During the ’80s, Self-Retracting Lanyards (SRLs) gained in development and use. They had been developed in the 1950s for offshore oil production in the North Sea but quickly became a common component in fall protection systems worldwide. Feldstein said SRLs became so valuable because they allowed workers to be protected along a much greater length of travel, increasing productivity without sacrificing safety. He described a scenario for rail car workers:
“Workers could be protected from the ground level and all the way up to the top of the rail car while they were working along the train’s length because the SRL could be mounted mobilely overhead. So that afforded a new type of protection for all types of workers in transportation, everything from rail cars, truck load-outs, and air craft maintenance.”
Regarding fall protection’s future, Firl and Feldstein said they believe comfort will continue to advance. Firl also foresees advances into niche markets with specialized materials and components, similar to the vacuum anchors’ progression into the airline industry for maintenance work on aircraft, whose surfaces can’t be penetrated with traditional-type anchors.
“In the past, a harness was a harness. It didn’t really matter if it was for construction, or utility work, or warehousing, it was a harness,” he said. “Now, you’re starting to see more specialized gear. . . As an example, in the utility segment, you would see extensively the use of flame-resistant materials . . . because they’re concerned about heat resistance; they’re concerned about being able to resist arc flash and so forth.”
At Hercules SLR we stock MSA, 3M and Honeywell Miller PPE and fall protection products, to provide you with an extensive, high quality range of PPE Fall Protection products. Our in-house experts will advise you on what equipment best suits your project. When it comes time for your yearly inspections and service, our technicians can inspect, repair and certify your gear. For more information on our Fall Protection products and Services, please call: 1-877-461-4876.
Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.