Realistic training involves any number of opportunities to place firefighters and other emergency responders at great risk. The confined space drill involving an entryway is the bread and butter of any team that maintains a technician level personnel. As this week's featured firefighter near-miss illustrates, "watching out for the other guy" takes on a new meaning when it comes to lock out-tag out systems.
Note: Brackets  denote reviewer de-identification. Our battalion [number omitted] was doing a confined space training exercise at [location omitted]. We completed the company's briefing on the procedures for confined space entry, and they assured us that the space was made safe from all dangers. They stated that their lock out/tag out procedures were completed. The exercise started with [Instructor A] and [FF A] placing the rescue mannequin in a 42 ft. deep flour bin. When the mannequin was placed into the flour bin, there was no product in the bin. During the setup phase of the exercise, a member of [company name omitted] staff started filling the bin from another source. This resulted in burying the mannequin with seven feet of flour. During the lock out/ tag out phase of the fire department training, the source was discovered and corrected.
The process of lock out-tag out was developed to ensure mechanical systems were placed in the off position and "locked out" to prevent accidental injury, engulfment, shock, or other hazard to emergency responders. OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.147, Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), lays out the rules for ensuring worker safety when energized machinery could endanger emergency responders or other workers. Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE), answer the following:
1. Whose responsibility is it to ensure all safety regulations are in place for confined space training?
2. Had the mannequin been an emergency responder, what course of action would be taken to rescue the responder?
3. What is the minimum number of personnel who should be on scene for this training?
4. How quickly would you have been able to stop the flow of the flour had you been the incident commander?
5. What additional steps would you have taken to prevent the near miss in this week's report from occurring?
Have you experienced a near miss during a confined space drill? Visit and report your near-miss at www.firefighternearmiss.com today so everyone goes home tomorrow.
Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.