January 2018

  1. Standard Fall Arrest Rescue

    Fall arrest rescue is something that we should all plan for. While we would like to live in a world where we never have to worry about accidents happening, sometimes that just isn’t the case. We do, however, live in a world where OSHA requires that a rescue plan is in place. For more about 1926.502(d)(20), the OSHA standard that outlines rescue click here. So, how do you perform a proper fall arrest rescue? Our Gear Experts® have put together a guide for the versatile standard pick off style rescue.




    The first step in any rescue is to set your anchorage point. After all, you have to be able to use both of your hands and still be secured in order to help rescue the victim. Remember that you should be above the victim at this point. The next thing you want to do is get your descent device rigged up and descend down to your victim. You should still be above them, but be close enough that you can reach their dorsal D-ring. Once you reach the victim make sure that you put your descender in the locked position.


    Hook up haul system




    The next step is to hook up a haul system to the victim. We have a range of different haul systems to choose from, but a minimum of a 4 to 1 haul system is recommended so that it can be used no matter how heavy the victim is. Some haul systems come pre-rigged. However, it is important to check the system and make sure that it is rigged correctly before going to the job-site. The next step is to hook the carabiner on the haul system to the dorsal D-ring on the victim and securely lock the carabiner. Next, hook a pick-off strap to the dorsal D-ring of the victim and make sure everything is secure.




    Descent & Completing the Rescue


    Once the haul system and pick-off strap are hooked to the victim the next step is to use the haul system to lift the victim up enough to create slack in the connection point to what they are hanging off of. The pick-off strap should already be connected to your descender, but if it isn’t, make sure to do this. Remove the slack from the pick-off strap and disconnect the victim from whatever they fell on. Lower the weight off of the haul system and unhook the system. The final step is to lower yourself and the victim down to safety. Remember that if the victim is injured or unconscious you should have someone below help guide them to the ground and disconnect them from the pick-off strap before you get to the ground.

    Looking for a complete rescue kit? Look no further. We have a variety of pre-assembled rescue kits that you can find here.

    If you need something custom, or just have some questions please contact one of our Gear Experts®.


    **The content of this blog is not intended to replace proper, in-depth fall protection and rescue training. Formal training is provided by a qualified instructor and includes presentations and evaluation of required skills. Manufacturer’s instruction must also be followed and reviewed before any fall protection equipment is used.

    For more information on formal training please click here.

    Standard Fall Arrest Rescue


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  2. The Ultimate Fall Protection Harness Buying Guide

    So, you need to buy a new climbing harness, but you’re not quite sure where to start. We understand. There are a million different options and sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming. At GME we pride ourselves in being your Gear Experts® and this week we are outlining all of the information you need to make an informed decision about what harness you need to get the job done and stay safe.



    The first thing you want to do is narrow down the application that you need the harness for. This is most likely the easiest step of the buying process because your job will be specific. Some of the applications you will need a fall protection harness for are:

    Tower Climbing
    • Tree Care (Aborist)
    • Solar Energy
    • Wind Energy
    • Construction

    Once you have the application narrowed down you then need to look at what type of specific job you are doing that may require specialized equipment. Specialty equipment includes:

    • Welding
    • Rope Access
    • Rescue



    Now it’s time to choose what kind of material the hardware (d-rings) is made of. Your two main options are steel and aluminum. Steel hardware is cheaper but also heavier. This can be a negative when you need to keep the total weight you are carrying below a certain limit (like when you are close to the weight limit of a lanyard or SRL).

    Aluminum, on the other hand, is more expensive but much lighter. There is a common misconception that aluminum is not as strong as steel, but the truth is that the aluminum parts have to pass the same tests that the steel parts do. While weight is one big determining factor about which harnesses to choose, compatibility is another one.


    D-Rings, Connection Points, and Sizing


    Now let’s look at some of the harness details that will affect your decision. How many D-Rings do you need? Do you need other connection points? What size is going to fit best? Well, we are here to help you answer all of these questions.

    Harnesses range from 1 to 6 D-Rings depending on your needs. For example, if you want to have the ability to position yourself with a positioning lanyard you will want a D-ring on each hip. Traditionally a tower climbing harness will have 6 D-rings whereas a construction harness will have between 1 and 3 D-rings.

    If you are unsure of how many D-Rings would be right for you, contact one of our Gear Experts®.

    You also want to consider additional connection points. Lanyard keepers allow you to conveniently hold your lanyards when they’re not in use while preventing them from swinging around or blowing in the wind. Keep in mind that additional accessory connection points are meant to be used for extra equipment not as fall protection points. This means that you should not use them to tie yourself off. It also means that they don’t have to be steel or aluminum. If weight is part of the equation many harnesses have connection points that are made of lighter materials.

    This Petzl Volt Fall Arrest and Work Positioning Harness features sternal attachment points made from stiff webbing.

    Sizing for a harness is similar to clothing – it’s not always as easy as you would hope. Each harness and each manufacturer have different sizing formats. Most USA manufacturers, like DBI Sala and Elk River, have traditional sizes of S, M, L, & XL. However, a sizing chart should still be used to make sure that you will fit the harness you choose. Some of the international suppliers, like Petzl, use a different sizing structure (0, 1, & 2). We have sizing charts for most harnesses that we carry, but if you need more information please contact us and we will help you find the right fit.

    We would also like to mention what we like to call “winter sizing”. Having a snug harness is extremely important. And, making sure the harness fits properly is key to your safety. It is also beneficial to try and make sure that the harness you choose can increase in size by around 4 inches. This 4 inch increase will cover the extra clothing that you will wear during the winter months.

    Proper donning of a safety harness is also critical. Check out this YouTube video about how to properly don a harness.



    Connection Points

    There are three types of connection points when looking at harnesses. All connection points have the same function, to secure the harness to your body, and all of them meet the same requirements. What type of connection point you choose will be based on personal preference, convenience level, and price point. The three types of connections are:

    1. Tongue buckle;
    2. Pass-through buckle; and
    3. Quick Connect (QC) buckle


    Tongue Buckle


    The tongue buckle is similar to the buckle system on a belt for your pants. There is a strap with grommets and you adjust the belt by pulling more material through the buckle and securing it in place with the prong. This is typically a cost-effective option when looking at your harness. But, keep in mind that while it is cost effective it may not be time effective. Having to manually work with the straps can increase the amount of time it takes you to gear up. Some people prefer tongue buckle because the straps do not loosen throughout the workday.

    This WestFall Pro Ascend Tower Climbing Harness features tongue buckle leg straps.




    Pass-through Buckle



    The pass-through buckle also referred to as a parachute buckle, is a pretty simple system. There are two pieces of metal on each end of the buckle. The smaller end passes through the larger end and secures into place to attach the harness to your body. This type of connection point is the most economical connection between the three. It is typically found on many entry-level harnesses.

    This DBI Sala Delta Vest-Style Harness features a pass-through chest buckle.


    Quick Connect Buckle



    The Quick Connect buckle is the easiest and most efficient buckling system. It is similar to the way a seat belt works in a car. There is one end with a “tongued” edge and another with a clip. The tongue simply locks into the clip and you are ready for action. Many people prefer this type of connection point because it takes almost no time to ensure that your harness is securely attached to your body.

    This Elk River Raven Tower Harness features a quick connect chest connection and a tongue buckle belt for seat attachment.






    When looking at full body harnesses it is important to keep in mind the certifications you need them to meet. If you are working in the United States you will need a harness that meets ANSI Z359.11-2014. ANSI Z359.11-2014 outlines the safety requirements for a full body harness. If you are working in Canada you will need a harness that meets the CSA requirements. Your CSA harness will need to meet the CSA Z259.10-12 Full Body Harness Standard. A full breakdown of these standards is beyond the scope of this blog post, but be sure to check back because we will cover it in another post. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified when we break down the ANSI Z359.11 and CSA Z259.10-12 standard.

    Looking for more information about the standards? Give one of our Gear Experts® a call and as always Climb Higher®!

    Click here to view our full selection of safety harnesses.


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    Raven Tower Harness


    Want to learn more about the Raven Tower Harness from Elk River? Check out this YouTube Video


  3. Blocks for Lifting & Rigging: ASME B30

    Whether you are lifting or rigging, the block you choose is one of the most important decisions you will make. Your gear is the difference between a job well done and an accident with unforeseen consequences. Our dedicated Gear Experts® have spent years sourcing the best, and most reliable equipment to help you get the job done safely. This week we are focusing on blocks and the ASME B30 standard.

    We offer a wide range of blocks to fit all of your rigging and lifting needs. But, what exactly should you be looking for when choosing a block? Well, the most important things to look for are covered by the ASME B30 standard for lifting and rigging. More specifically, Chapter 26-5 which covers rigging blocks, like those you would use with a capstan hoist on a tower.



    The rigging block should be able to permanently deform before losing the ability to support the load. This ensures that you should notice the block has been overloaded before it fails. We will cover inspection shortly, but remember that proper inspection is extremely important.

    The side plates should be made of metal, wood, or a synthetic material. Obviously, you’ll almost always see steel or aluminum blocks in the tower industry. The sheaves and load-bearing straps or fittings should be made of metal as well.

    Rated Loads


    Load weight should always be kept within the recommended limits of the manufacturer. It is also important to remember that this limit is the maximum load applied, not a single load line. What this means is that if the block is rigged at the top of the tower and you’re lifting something that weighs 1,000 pounds, there could be up to 2,000 pounds of total weight on the block. These concepts can get pretty complicated and are outside of the range of a blog post. For more information, check out a competent rigger training course.

    Proper Identification 




    ASME B30 26-5.5 covers proper identification. Each block has to have markings providing the manufacturer, rated load, and acceptable rope sizes. The block should also be maintained by the user to ensure these markings remain legible through the life of the hardware.




    Inspection, Repair, and Removal


    A qualified person should designate whether the hardware is suitable for rigging, and remove it from service if it’s not. Prior to use, all blocks should be inspected to verify compliance with ASME B30. A visual inspection should be performed each time the block is used. Permanently installed rigging hardware should have periodic inspections as well. Written records are not required for these inspections, but remember, if it doesn’t pass inspection you must remove it from service. Written records may not be required, but they are recommended. It makes it much easier to track inspection and keep everyone safe while on the job.

    If a block shows any of the following during inspection, they cannot be used in the field and should be replaced.

    • Missing or illegible identification
    • Misalignment or wobble in sheaves
    • Excessive sheave groove corrugation or wear
    • Loose or missing nuts, bolts, cotter pins, snap rings, or other fasteners or retaining devices.
    • Indications of heat damage or arc strikes
    • Excessive pitting or corrosion
    • Bent, cracked, twisted, distorted, or broken load-bearing components
    • Excessive wear, nicks, or gouges
    • 10% reduction of the original dimensions at any point on the device
    • Excessive damage to load-bearing threads
    • Evidence of unauthorized welding or modifications
    • For hooks and shackles, removal criteria specified in those B30 standards
    • Any other condition including visible damage that causes any doubt as to the integrity of the block.

    Repairs of modifications must be specified by the by the manufacturer or a qualified person. The replacement parts should meet or exceed the original manufacturer specs. Unless advised by the manufacturer, modifications are not recommended.

    Operating Practices


    Obviously, load ratings should not be exceeded. Make sure you’re keeping clear of the block, its running lines, load, or any other part of the system during lifting. This includes walking or standing under a suspended load or lifting line. Also, don’t stand next to a rig when the line is under tension.

    As for rigging practices, avoid sharp angles or edges that could damage the block. And be sure not to drag blocks along abrasive surfaces. The load applied to the block should be in-line with the sheave to prevent side loading. Blocks with swivels help to avoid these problems.  Also, make sure your rope is securely in the groove of the sheave. Shock loading should also be avoided.

    This is not a comprehensive training. Before doing any lifting and rigging a competent rigger course should be completed. We also have a full line of training courses that are available for a range of different subjects. Those can be found here.

    Need help? Click here to contact a Gear Expert® and as always, Climb Higher®!

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    Synthetic Rope Blocks


    Rope blocks that are specially labeled for synthetic rope are hard to find, but your search ends here! We have just the block you need if you are looking for a synthetic rope block. Find out more information with this YouTube video!

  4. Cut-Resistance 101

    Your hands are your trade and protecting them is a priority. When looking at gloves one of the most important things to look at is how effective those gloves are at protecting your hands from sharp and abrasive material. Here at GME we pride ourselves in being your Gear Experts®. Below we will review the cut protection standard (ANSI/ISEA 105-16), outline the what’s what when it comes to cut-resistant standard requirements, and break down how the materials are tested so that you have the knowledge you need to find the right gloves for the job at hand.

    ANSI/ISEA 105-16 (2016)


    First, we should look at ANSI 105-16. This standard outlines the requirements for cut level protection to protect workers from abrasive and sharp material handling. It was previously revised in 2005 and 2011 and the new revision was done to provide additional cut levels. ANSI 105-16 features nine cut levels, significantly reducing the gaps between each level to better define protection levels for cut resistant gloves and sleeves.

    General Requirements


    The changes in this standard include the new classification levels, which includes a new scale to determine cut score, as well as a revised method for testing gloves to the standard.  The classifications are broken down into 9 cut levels (A1 through A9).

    The cut levels represent the durability of the glove material based on the gram measurement of force used behind the blade during testing. The new standard spans 0 grams to 6,000 grams of cut resistance. The standard update also changes the way testing can be done. The new ASTM F2992-15 test method requires that the TDM-100 (tomodynamometer) be used to test the cut resistance of the glove. The old testing method allowed two different machines to be used, but by limiting the testing to one machine ANSI can ensure uniform testing by every manufacturer.

    This graph from HexArmor shows the difference between the old and new scale. As you can see, there are much smaller ranges which specify the added rate ratings which allow you to make a specific decision based on your needs.

    Testing Standards


    The testing standard for cut resistance is done by taking a sample of the material and cutting it. The TDM determines the amount of weight, measured in grams, necessary for a blade to cut through the PPE material when it travels 20 mm across the surface of the material. Previously it required 25 mm of travel.

    The sample is held down by a sample holder and a straight-edge blade, under the predetermined load, moves along the material in a straight line. This sample is cut a total of five times with three different loads. Each time the sample is cut a new blade is used to ensure that the blade is sharp.

    Look for markings on both packaging and directly printed on the glove which outline what specific cut rating each glove is designed to protect against.

    We have a large selection of cut-resistant gloves to fit all of your needs. With winter in full swing thermal gloves are the go-to selection for many of our customers. We have a wide range of thermal gloves that also provide superior cut protection. If you need help finding the right gloves for you please contact one of our Gear Experts®.

    Want to know more? Our Knowledge Base houses information about PPE & Work Wear, equipment, and standards that at-height workers need to know. Click here to visit our knowledge base and as always: Climb Higher®!



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