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f your team needs to descend into a vertical or sloped opening, you’ll need a rescue and descent system to keep your workers safe from falls and to help them exit the area, typically a confined space, in case of an emergency. At PK Safety, we sell a range of fall protection equipment and controlled descent safety harnesses and accessories, including rescue tripods, rappelling (or “recall”) gear, pulleys, clips, rescue devices, and self-braking descenders. These products make it easy to lower your employees without putting them at risk. You can also use these systems to rescue your employees if they fall or are trapped inside a confined space. In the face of an emergency, being prepared with your training and the right gear for the job should mean everyone goes home safe.
A descent device is a mechanical apparatus designed to safely lower workers into vertically accessible confined spaces, such as a utility tunnel, crawl space, or manhole. It makes for a controlled descent by letting another worker control the speed at which the worker is lowered into the space. The device allows teams to control the pace of the descent, so the worker being lowered down can land safely at the bottom.
A rescue device is similar to a descent device, except it allows the team to quickly retrieve the worker from a confined space during an emergency, such as a flood, flash fire, or if toxic gases become present. The device quickly pulls the worker up and out of the confined space without injuring them in the process. The worker’s weight must be anchored outside of the confined space.
Both the descent and rescue device function as part of an overall confined space plan. The entire system is used to increase fall protection when workers enter spaces that are unfit for continuous worker occupancy.
The rescue and descent system start with an anchor point for supporting the weight of the worker, a full body harness, and a rope of a certain length. In many cases it uses a mechanical pulley system to raise or lower the worker. When the team adjusts the controls, the friction on the rope decreases, and the worker will begin to descend into the space. When the team moves the controls in the opposite direction, the rope will tighten, and the worker will make their ascent.
The system is designed to retrieve the worker as quickly as possible. The worker must wear their harness at all times when occupying a confined space in case of an emergency. They should also be able to communicate with the workers above so they can pull the worker out at the first sign of danger. Workers should also wear a hard hat to protect their heads when occupying these spaces. Depending on the space, they may be required to wear additional PPE like flame resistant (FR) or arc flash clothing, gas monitors, and respirators.
Rescue and descent systems improve quality control in the field. Contact PK Safety to find the right safety supply and equipment for your next assignment.