The many different rescue kit types reflect the environments in which they are used. Some of the more common types of kits are Pro Response Kit, Child Response Kits, Holster Emergency Kits, Weather Alert Survival Kits, Xtractor Auto Rescue Kits, Pole Top Rescue Kits, HV (high voltage) Rescue Kits, and LV (low voltage) Rescue Kits. Each includes specific equipment that could be used in an emergency situation. All require inspection and testing so that the equipment is reliable and ready when needed for emergency situations.
When Should the Rescue Kits Be Tested?
Testing of the kits should be completed on a regular basis, depending on how often they are used and in what environment they are used. “Note that there is no Australian Standard which specifically covers rescue kits. Refer to the ENA guidelines National guideline for the management of tools and equipment used in the electricity supply industry for further information.” according to the Thew and McCann Group. There are two distinct times for inspection, each with a different purpose and intensity.
A) before each use, the safety of the equipment requires a visual inspection
B) testing needs to occur on a regular basis, according to best practices.
A) After Each Use and Before the Next Use
The tools, site testing equipment and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) should be visually inspected for noticeable damage after use and before the kit is used again. With electrical equipment, there should be an inspection of damage for the insulated leads and probes, with a test to make sure that the equipment is working correctly.
It is an unsafe practice just to examine the tag to determine the time from the last official inspection to determine the condition of the equipment. Only a careful visual examination of the equipment will conclude that the components are in good working order. Documentation of the condition of the equipment is vital, and any damaged equipment should be replaced immediately.
The inspection needs to be completed by a person with a thorough knowledge of the equipment and the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety standards. If no one on the team has these qualifications, then a qualified third party inspection needs to take place.
B) According to Best Practices on a Scheduled Ongoing Basis
In some instances, best practices are defined by the manufacturer, and in other instances, best practices follow a policy of a set timeline for inspection such as once a month or are defined by an expert in the field. The inspection should include a visual as well as a functional testing component.
Example: Confined Space Rescue Kit – Manufacturer’s Guidelines
Many manufacturers list advice on their website for the care and inspection of their equipment. The advice for the Confined Space Rescue Kit is provided as an example of what might be available to your team. On the manufacturer’s website for the Confined Space Rescue are the following guidelines for care.
- Always inspect the equipment – the rope, harness, etc. before using.
- If you have doubts about any piece of equipment, contact the manufacturer.
- Storage of the unit should be in a retracted position.
- Always check the equipment for damage or tangled parts before storing the equipment.
- Replace any equipment that appears to be damaged.
Competent Person Inspection of Rescue Equipment
It is advisable to employ the use of an agency or company that specializes in the inspection of rescue kits. The inspection can take place in a lab setting or at your site and even as part of a safety training exercise for your staff.
During this inspection, there will be a sight and touch inspection as well as a functional inspection of the equipment following the manufacturer’s specifications by a certified inspector. This inspection will satisfy the requirement of an annual inspection and include documentation of the examination.
Aspects of the Report by a Competent Person
A full report will include the accessibility of the equipment for use and any recommendations to improve the use of the equipment by your team. Pertinent information such as manufacturer, product number and serial or lot number, date of manufacturer and in-service date will be included. Also included will be the results of the testing for both the visual and functional test according to a pass, fail system. Any equipment which is deemed as unsafe will be tagged and removed from the kit.
The common reasons for removing a piece of equipment from service can include
- The item fails to pass a visual inspection by the competent person.
- The item has been subjected to a significant load or fall.
- The item is constructed of plastic or textiles and is over 10 years old.
- The history of the item has not been documented or is unclear.
- The team has lost confidence in the item.
The third party inspector will advise about the proper pre and post inspection of the equipment as well as equipment care, methods for inspection, how to keep records and optimal conditions for the storage of the equipment.
How Do You Find A Competent Third Party Inspector for Your Rescue Kits?
Professional companies for the inspection of rescue kits will have the following competencies or qualities:
- have experience in the inspection of equipment.
- are certified to inspect rescue equipment.
- are in close contact with the manufacturers of rescue equipment.
- follow the government standards and guidelines.
- have staff that is certified to inspect your line of rescue equipment.
- provide onsite or in lab inspections for your convenience.
Your role in the field of rescue is to be prepared when the emergency arises. Your team deserves the best equipment possible as they often work under extreme conditions in stressful conditions. A third party inspection on a regular basis provides your team with confidence in their equipment.