Not All Heroes Wear Capes

WCC Westcoast Group, based at Garelochhead in Scotland, have a team of IRATA-qualified confined space rescue technicians.

The team provides rescue cover to local industry and military sites for both work at height and confined space rescue cover.

Not all rescues involve serious injury, death or medical conditions. The following incident was the result of a relatively minor accident that left the subject unable to climb down ladders.

The subject of the rescue was carrying out maintenance work on an overhead crane inside a large steel frame structure, the engineer had climbed to approximately 20 metres using a series of vertical hooped ladders using fall arrest climbing lanyards. Once at the top of the building, he began to carry out the maintenance task using hand tools.

During his task, the engineer’s tool slipped, causing him to lose his footing. He fell sideways and struck the side of his helmet on the steel structure, he also contacted the structure with his wrist.

The relatively minor incident left the engineer dazed and unable to use his hand to grip the ladder for the climb down. He eventually managed to raise the alarm, and the WCC rope access rescue team attended his location in a very short time. It was apparent that he was in shock and panicking that he was unable to climb down with an injured wrist.

The WCC Team, led by an IRATA Level 3 operator, deployed the Petzl Jag Rescue System. The kit was attached to the steel frame structure and then to the engineer. The subject was then able to down climb the ladders using just his feet, the Petzl rescue kit was operated from the top of the structure to safely assist the engineer, removing any risk of a fall.

Without the WCC rescue team’s attendance, the engineer would have been unable to climb down the ladder, leaving him stuck at height.

Reliance on emergency services is not sufficient to comply with the Work at Height Regulations. Companies MUST consider work-at-height emergencies and have a plan in the event of an incident.