Confined spaces are a claustrophobic safety hazard for workers when they need to be lowered into a workspace. Improper use or a failure to adequately inspect the tripod before use can result in serious injury on the part of the worker being lowered. Hazardous situations such as employee injury can be avoided by having a confined space tripod inspection list and looking for any signs of failure.
When To Inspect Your Tripod
Your tripod stand for confined space entry should be thoroughly inspected before every use, and a brief inspection should be done after use to ensure that there are no obvious faults. Additional inspections should be done at regular intervals; at a minimum, an inspection should be done every year.
If during any stage of the inspection a tripod fails to meet expectations, the tripod should be removed from service immediately. An inspection is needed after every fall event to record where the device failed. After the cause has been conclusively determined, the tripod must be removed from service.
A Visual Inspection
You need to begin your inspection of the tripod by looking for the obvious initial signs of potential malfunction. These signs include:
- Parts that are misaligned, broken, bent, worn, or damaged in any way.
- Fasteners that are loose or have missing components.
- Signs of deterioration or corrosion of materials.
- Any other signs that pose a danger to the integrity of the tripod.
Engage the leglocks of the tripod and ensure that they are secure and working as intended.
After you set up your tripod, inspect the integrity of the lifeline by pulling it all the way out. Inspect the entire length of the line for signs of cuts, corrosion, broken strands, and other signs of damage. Test its retraction capabilities by pulling the line out several feet and allow it to retract back into its housing unit. When the line is retracting, maintain a light tension on the line itself.
A Successful Test
If everything is in working order, the line should retract entirely into the housing compartment without issue.
An Unsuccessful Test
If the line snags or does not retract entirely into the housing unit, then pull out the whole length of the line and allow it to retract under tension. If the line is still showing issues during retraction, then it is not fit for use.
The Braking Mechanism
In order to engage the braking system of the tripod’s lifeline, grab hold of the line above the load indicator.
Indication of a Successful Test
Applying a sharp downward force to the line should then activate the braking mechanism. Prevent the line from going down any further. Once the line is released, and force is no longer being applied, the brakes should disengage and retract as normal into the lifeline’s housing.
Signs of a Failing Braking System
When the brakes are applied, there should be no slippage to the line at all. If the lifeline is still being pulled down after the brakes are engaged, then the mechanism is no longer safe or in working order.
Observe that the snap hook is operating freely, that it locks, and that it swivels properly and smoothly. Inspect the keeper of the snap hook for signs of deterioration and ensure that there are no bent, cracked, or distorted components.
Check the load indicator for any signs of activation. The load indicator is housed within the swivel of the snap hook. The eye of the swivel will expose a red area when it is subjected to a sufficient downward force.
Inspect the retrieval mechanism and ensure that it is in working order. Make sure that all components do not have corrosion or are misaligned or malformed in any way.
Grab ahold of the webbing with both hands separated by six to eight inches apart. Bend the webbing in an inverted U shape. The surface tension that this will cause will result in any loose fibers and cuts being easily exposed. Continue this process down the entire length of the webbing to make sure that there is no damage. Flip over the webbing and repeat the process to ensure that the opposite side has no faulty or loose fibers.
Damage To Look Out For
- Frayed edges
- Broken fibers
- Chemical damage
- Pulled stitches
Inspect the attachment point of the D-ring to ensure that it is secure and that it can pivot freely. Check the D-ring for any cracks, sharp edges, and distortions.
Special care and extra attention must be given to the buckles, as any overlooked damage can result in breakages that will lead to worker injuries. Inspect for unusual damage or distortions to the buckling system. Inspect that the roller and tongue can move freely and that the tongue properly overlaps the buckle frame. Inspect the outer and center bars for any signs of distortion.
Potential Causes of Tripod Issues
When exposed to excessive heat of 180 degrees Fahrenheit, the webbing and the rope may become brittle and take on a brownish, shriveled appearance. The fibers will break once they are flexed after this kind of exposure.
Exposure To Chemicals
Chemicals can cause the rope to appear brown and can cause the rope and webbing to lose their elasticity.
Open Flame or Molten Metal
The rope and webbing will become hard and brittle and may fuse together when exposed to an open flame. Hard, glossy spots will appear on the webbing.
Paints and Solvents
Dried paint can restrict the movement of webbing and rope fibers. Solvents and drying agents can cause the rope fibers and the webbing to react in much the same way as exposure to chemicals, losing elasticity and taking on a brownish look.
Never Neglect an Inspection
There are many points of failure when it comes to confined space tripod inspections. Neglecting to perform these necessary assessments can result in avoidable situations such as worker injury, and, in the worst-case scenario, the death of a worker. Stay up-to-date with inspections and keep employees safe from unnecessary dangers.