One of the biggest potential dangers of working on an oil rig is the possibility of falling from one platform to another, or even into the sea. Due to this risk, safety regulations require companies to provide workers with safety harnesses that will prevent injuries in case a worker falls. These harnesses are essential and highly effective at preventing injury and death. However, rescuing a worker that has fallen and is suspended by a fall arrest system can take some time, especially on an oil rig. To remedy this, one company has developed a new safety device that could make oil rig rescues easier by allowing fallen workers to lower themselves to safety.
The company that is developing this technology is 3M, which is perhaps best known for the Post-It Note but has also been behind lots of different products, many of them safety-based. The self-rescue device looks like a thin backpack that attaches to the back of your regulation safety harness. Then, the lanyard or lifeline that is intended to prevent a fall is attached to a sturdy ring on the device. If you fall and are suspended in mid-air, there is a red handle on the self-rescue device that will allow you to lower yourself to the next platform, like Spiderman descending on his web.
How Could a Self-Rescue Device Prevent Oil Rig Injuries?
Safety harnesses work well to prevent the serious personal injuries that can result from even a short fall. These harnesses are attached to the rig, so that if you should lose your grip, the fall will only be a couple of feet at most, and you end up dangling in the air not too far from where you just were. Still, even though companies are required to have a rescue plan in place to retrieve fallen workers, hanging around in your harness while you wait to be saved can be uncomfortable. The pressure these harnesses put on your legs can actually be so great that you lose consciousness, and suspension injuries can be incredibly painful.
A self-rescue device would change that, because it would allow you to get back onto your own two feet only minutes after your fall. It would not be a replacement for a safety harness or a rescue plan, which are both required by the American Petroleum Institute for all workers who work at a height of more than six feet. Instead, this self-rescue device would work with the already existing systems to make it a lot easier to get down from an oil rig platform if you happen to fall.