EWT - Vault and Pole-Top Rescue

Learning objectives

  • Identify, prioritize, and execute the proper procedures in performing a pole-top rescue.
  • Identify and execute proper rescue procedures for underground electrical installations.

Course overview

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that in the United States an average of 12,976 lost workday injuries occur annually to electric power generation, transmission and distribution employees. They also report that 86 fatalities occur to these workers annually. OSHA estimates that 1,633 lost workday injuries and 61 deaths can be prevented annually through compliance.

While work is being performed in manholes and vaults with limited entry, rescue equipment needs to be ready. Members of the work team are to be trained in CPR/First Aid and Enclosed Space Entry and Rescue procedures.

If an event occurs, such as an electrical explosion, a lack of oxygen, or any other event disabling the employee or employees, the work team should:

  • First call out to the worker or workers in the hole by saying: “Are you OK? Is everything all right?” Or something similar. Try to get attention, is the point.
  • If there is no response or if the attendant determines that there are injuries, immediately call dispatch to declare that there is an emergency and give his location.
  • Return to the entrance of the hole and prepare to start the rescue.

If the ventilator is running (it should be) it will have already started clearing the hole of any dangerous fumes. The attendant or work team should:

  • Retrieve the air-monitoring device, if possible.
  • Clear it in the fresh air until it has good readings.
  • Re-insert the air-monitoring device and check to see if it is safe to enter.

After re-inserting the air-monitoring device and verifying the atmosphere is clean:

  • Remove ventilation tube.
  • Insert ladder.
  • Lower previously extended rescue line into the manhole.
  • Descend the ladder.
  • Position the victim for an unobstructed lift.
  • Attach the anti-rollout hook to the victim’s harness, a nylon sling, or place the looped rope under the victim’s arms.

After checking to be sure the victim is ready to be lifted:

  • Ascend the ladder.
  • Remove it from the manhole by placing it where it won’t interfere with the rescue.
  • Start the lift.
  • Once the victim is at the maximum height, the rescuer grasps the hook in one hand and the bar of the winch in the other hand.

The rescuer is now ready to pull the rescue device with the victim toward himself:

  • By placing his foot against the bottom of the leg of the guardrail for stability, the rescuer proceeds to pull the victim and the rescue device toward himself until the victim’s upper torso is completely on the ground, face-up.
  • The rescue line is then disconnected.

With practice this procedure can be performed in 2 to 3 minutes, which fall within the guidelines for CPR.

One of the emergency situations unique to the electrical utility industry is Pole-Top Rescue. There have been many cases of lineworkers being injured while working at the top of a pole or other structure. The basic rule of rescue still applies: don’t become the second victim.

Assess the situation and take appropriate protective precautions. The main difference in these types of situations is that workers must get the victim to the ground as quickly and safely as possible, especially if there are life-threatening injuries.

To help with remembering how to perform a safe Pole-Top Rescue, we’ve broken the procedure into six easy to remember steps: Evaluate, Protect, Climb, Determine, Get, and Aid. If workers follow the proper procedure for each of these steps and perform the steps in this order, they’ll have the best chance of helping co-workers and stay safe, too.

Evaluate the Situation:

  • Call to the victim.
  • Call emergency services as soon as possible.
  • Have dispatcher call if when a worker can’t.
  • Look around.
  • Check pole or structure.
  • Look for source of injury.

Protect from injury:

  • Don’t become a victim.
  • Have all necessary safety equipment.

Climb into position:

  • Grab a hand line.
  • Right position to best help victim.
  • Usually slightly below their belt.
  • Clear the victim from any contact with energized wiring or equipment.

Determine victim’s condition:

  • Talk to the victim.
  • Check for Breathing.
  • Check for Bleeding.
  • Check for life threatening injury.
  • Is victim conscious?
  • Can victim climb down?

Get the victim to the ground:

  • Quickly, but safely.
  • If victim cannot climb down, use block and tackle or ½ inch hand line.
  • Take one full wrap around a cross arm or around the pole above a screw driver driven into the pole.
  • Rig the victim by passing the hand line around the chest and tying three half-hitches close to the chest.
  • Remove the slack.
  • Cut the victim’s safety strap.
  • Lower the victim to the ground.

Give CPR and First Aid:

  • Get air into lungs (if necessary).
  • Stop bleeding (if necessary).
  • 15 minutes
  • Format: Online Interactive
  • English
Course Outline
  • Introduction
  • Pole-Top Rescue
  • Underground Rescue
  • 29 CFR, Subpart R - Special Industries: 1910.269, Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution; Section (b): Medical services and first aid.
  • 29 CFR 1910.269 (e): Enclosed spaces.
  • 29 CFR 1910.269 (t): Underground electrical installations.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146: Permit-required confined spaces.
  • 29 CFR 1910.269 (a) (2): General - Training.
  • 29 CFR, Subpart F - Powered Platforms, Manlifts, and Vehicle-Mounted Work Platforms: 1910.67, Vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating work platforms.
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