Well much has been written about the technique or method of successfully recovery, be it self recovery or vehicle to vehicle recovery and the methods of assessing the way in which the recovery is to be carried out almost to the point of total nausea.
Yet not much has been written about the safety standards to be employed in such a situation which could apply to an event, a social group or even in a training situation. We have all seen pictures on the net and read articles in various forums covering failed recoveries –with damage to vehicles and serious personal injury.
South African Off-Road Trainers Association
SANOTA, the South African Off-Road Trainers Association has set up a working group to look at developing some standards or operating procedures which will in fact have wide reaching benefits to the fraternity. What I would like is a bit of reader participation in the form of any hints, tips or ideas, in this way allowing other users to share ideas with us before anything is finalised.
Once we have collated all the inputs we will obviously put them into structured format before finalising and circulating for comment. But all comments will be appreciated as some of you may have particular safety ideas that you would like to share based on personal experience or a particular area of expertise.
One has to remember that signing an indemnity does not protect one if one’s actions and procedures are found to have been negligent, so these operating procedures are important to all involved in any recovery or rescue situation.
So lets define our purpose as being; “The introduction of a standard for vehicle recovery to reduce the risk of injury, fatalities and damage to vehicles in off-road applications.
Standard Operating Procedures
With that in mind we then need to look at the various methods and techniques and possible pitfalls to avoid when developing a decent set of standards or SOP’s ( Standard operating procedures).Then we apply them to the way in which the equipment is used and perhaps even suggest standards for local manufacturers to adhere to which will assist customers. In many cases imported equipment may be compliant especially if sourced in the US where litigation is the order of the day. Yet this is not the order of the day, many imported straps are sold without labels or instructions, which could be problematic when operating under difficult conditions.
So where do we start, well that’s where I would love comment and interaction from a broad cross section of the community. But perhaps a good point would be to categorise the equipment and the type of recovery and then analyse potential dangers etc. We must remember that overseas many of these standards have been set in partnership with Government and standards bodies, we will not have the benefit of such a luxury but I still believe we can still do a good job. To post your ideas on recovery standards go to the dedicated forum”Standards” on the community page. Use the forum to debate and interact, remember at the end of the day we want to have SOP’s that we stand by and accept.
So to work lets look at recovery points, consider the fitment, style, etc. in some countries open hooks are frowned upon, how do you feel, remember that many vehicles are fitted with open hooks when manufactured? Perhaps here is the time to sort out the debate regarding a standard tow ball fitted to a standard bumper with galvanized bolts? Then the shackles, perhaps we can arrive at some simple basic guidelines here!
On to ropes and straps, we would need to set some realistic SOP’s for the use of Kinetic straps and ropes as well as pull straps, at the same time we may as well handle the tree protector which often doubles as a pull strap.
Then we need to look at winching and need to include the wire rope hand winches as well as electric derivatives although the principals are much the same. At the same time we should look at the cables and plasma ropes as well as the clevis hooks and or any other form of attachment.
Then although these standards are supposed to improve safety we need to recommend a realistic minimum standard iro. specialised safety equipment such as the use of recovery blankets or dampeners, lanyards or bridles. And most importantly safe working distances for participants and bystanders. And then we must rework this all and think about anything we forgot!
If you are an instructor and would like to know more about SANOTA contact Peet Hendriks at the following e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to post your tips on the standards forum on the community page ,we really need them!