One of our goals during training, or on a job site, is to increase efficiency through clean and simple rigging. While building elaborate systems is great practice, this is not desirable in the rescue world or on the job site. It may be necessary at times, but it is not something we seek out. In fact, we study pictures and diagrams of job sites prior to the job, and pre-plan rescue scenarios to come up with the simplest, most efficient way of performing the work and being able to perform the rescue if needed.
An example case study is the bridge inspection we completed last July in Kentucky. This was a Cable Stayed Bridge inspection in which the engineering firm was tasked with inspecting the cables of the bridge. Prior to Elevated Safety’s involvement, the firm was accomplishing this with the traditional method of rappelling down each cable. This involved rappelling down, then climbing back up the 200 ft tower while another member pulled the 300-600 ft ropes back up the tower to reset for the next drop. Add in the heat index for Kentucky in July, and it adds up to a very physically taxing job over the course of five, or more, days.
The solution we found for this bridge inspection site was to utilize a Harken™ Lokhead Winch whenever able. A winch that the company already had, but had not been using.
The winch was set-up on top of the tower and the inspector was then lowered down with the winch. The inspector would get off the cable on the ground, and attach himself to the next cable and get winched up to the top. While staying on the rope he would then get moved to the next cable and continue the process. When there was a need to haul up ropes from other drops the winch would also be used. Rigging was simple with the main objective of minimizing friction for the hauling operations.
So, what is the benefit for the firm? The obvious benefit of this process was that it cut the time allotted for the inspection in half, and boosted their bottom line for the job. However, in our eyes, the real benefit comes from the increase in safety to the job. By cutting the amount of time on rope in half, the chance of having an incident was also reduced. By decreasing the physical load on the inspectors, it increased their energy level which in turn allows them to maintain a higher level of situational awareness. What happens when you get extremely tired from days of climbing and hauling rope? Situational awareness and attention to detail go out the window and bad things happen.
The Harken™ Lokhead Winch and/or Rigger’s Winch may not have a place on every job, or rescue scenario, but when they are able to be utilized they are game changers. Increasing safety by increasing efficiency.