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Control measure

Manage the effects of tool use

Control measure knowledge

As mentioned in the hazard knowledge, the hazards posed by using tools can be extensive. The impact or likelihood of hazards resulting in harm are directly related to the type, location of use and the operator's capabilities.

It is important to remember that many of the tools used in extrications will be extremely powerful and can easily lead to uncontrolled movements when not managed correctly and in an appropriate manner.

Continuous familiarisation with the tools intended for use is recommended, including a check before use. This should be done outside a risk area or inner cordon, to re-familiarise operators with the equipment and check that the tool is working correctly before entering a work position.

For example, reciprocating saws create a lot of vibration and noise, which may be transferred on to, or distress the casualty. This may vary with the tool design, the item or material being cut and the operator. A simple test cut, where available and possible, on similar items or materials but without the inherent hazards, will result in improved tool use.

Operators should consider the following elements when using tools:

  • Look for hidden hazards before you operate. Make sure the operator knows what is being cut, moved and so on
  • Think about what the tool will do. How will it react, what direction it will move, etc.?
  • Think about what the item or material you are manipulating will do. Will it affect any other item, will it release explosively, and will it cause fragments or dust to be liberated?
  • Compensate and manage the inevitable hazard of fragments of certain items or materials that are cut, squeezed, manipulated and so on as part of an extrication being liberated, despite the best efforts of tool operators. A combination of hard and soft protection should be placed between the tool and the casualty as a minimum, depending on the actions being undertaken and the item or material being affected.
  • Ensure tool operators consider using further protection when required during cutting operations, such as a water spray on laminated glass

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure all personnel are trained and maintain competence in the safe and effective use of all rescue tools

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Monitor the use of rescue tools to ensure capabilities are not exceeded
  • Consider rotating crews involved in the use of rescue tools to reduce fatigue, exposure to noise and vibration
  • Provide hard and soft protection between the tool and the casualties, operators and other responders
  • Minimise the production of airborne particulates during extrication and provide respiratory protection