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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

Ask a group of fall protection experts to give an example of “Confined Space,” and you might be surprised at the answer. One might mention a boiler vat, another, HVAC ducting. A third person might mention a tractor trailer tank meant for hauling milk, yet another might talk about a mining excavation. Who’s right? Of course, they all are. But just because they all fall under the Confined Space umbrella, that doesn’t mean that the equipment, nor the procedures for rescue for each situation is the same. Each individual case deserves its own solution, and as you’re about to find out, sometimes you have to get creative.

Right Under Our Feet

We’ve all seen a manhole access point on a city street, and it represents one of the most common applications for Confined Space work. It also represents one of the easiest confined space problems (from an access perspective) to solve. For the average manhole access, a standard tripod solution such as a Guardian Arc-O-Pod is an excellent option. At a lightweight 65 lbs., it has a maximum height of 90” and can accommodate openings up to 5 ½’. It is compatible with our dedicated Rescue/Lifting winch, or our 3-Way SRL (shown) for applications that need active fall protection.

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Getting Sideways

But what if your Confined Space situation requires horizontal movement, such as HVAC ducting or a water supply pipe? In that case, a vertical solution isn’t going to be your best bet. The challenge of a horizontal application is finding a suitable surface on which to mount your rescue equipment. Unlike a tripod, which can mount on any relatively flat surface, a horizontal rescue system typically mounts to the opening of the confined space itself. Specialized needs require specialized equipment, and in this case, Guardian’s Tuff Built Clamp-On Horizontal Base is a good place to start. With models to accommodate openings from 16” to 54,” the Horizontal Entry System is compatible with a wide variety of collars, and its swing-away winch arm gives unobstructed access to the space during ingress and egress.

 

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Look Up there

Some Confined Spaces don’t really look like Confined Spaces, at least initially. For example, what if your Confined Space is a tanker truck, like one of those shiny milk trucks you see passing you on the highway? All of a sudden your easy-to-setup tripod or horizontal entry solution isn’t going to work very well if you tried to access the top hatch of the tank to do some interior maintenance, or needed to perform a rescue on a welder overcome by fumes. A situation like that has multiple challenges, the two main ones being a) lack of a suitable surface on which to mount a tripod or other hoisting device such as a davit, and b) the entry point is 12 feet above ground level. For these situations, you need a solution that gets you up there…way up there. The Guardian Tuff-Built A-Frames (Part # TB70787) and Quad-Frames (Part # TB70143) can do it! These heavy-duty, moveable anchor points are available in single or dual over-head beam configurations with anchor heights up to 23 feet! Granted, these are not your everyday Confined Space solutions, but if you work in or around tanker trucks or other above-ground-level Confined Spaces, you’ll need something more than a tripod.

 

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Many Problems, One Solution

In tight quarters, or in cases where you need to be creative, say over the ledge of a trench, a davit style system such as the Tuff Built Pro-3 HD is an excellent option. With its available hitch mount or counterweight system (Part # TB30073), the Pro-3 can accommodate typical manhole applications like a tripod, or non-typical applications such as over the edge of a dock where it is impossible to span the area directly over the lifting/rescue area.

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A key ingredient in successful Confined Space operations is to have equipment that can adapt to whatever situation comes along, and the solutions I’ve given above are just a taste of what we’ve got available. For more information regarding our Confined Space products, give Guardian Customer Service a call at (800) 466.6385, or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..