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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 41

Cableway Safety

Instruction: Chapter 41 is revised to reflect changes in policy that were previously relayed by memorandums.  Some portions of the chapter were revised to clarify U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) policy.  Major changes include: restricting the use of fiber-core cables on manned cableway systems; requiring the use of reinforced Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF) cable cars or the testing of non-HIF cable cars to meet a minimum loading capacity; requiring official USGS training for those who inspect cableways annually; defining how annual inspection results are to be compiled and presented; and clarifying fall-protection requirements in conjunction with Chapter 44, “Fall Protection.”

1. Purpose.  To specify the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program requirements for Department of the Interior (Department or DOI) and U.S. Geological Survey (Bureau or USGS) cableway safety requirements.

2. Scope. This chapter covers all USGS activities and operations involving cableways; both manned and bank-operated. The purpose of this policy is to help ensure these cableways are structurally sound, well maintained, and safely used. The policy describes the levels of cableway inspection; outlines the training requirements of personnel who use cableways and inspect cableways; and defines the planning and review procedures for construction or major rehabilitation of cableways.

3. Authorities and References.

A. “Stream-gaging cableways,” Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 3, Chapter A21.

B. “Cableway Design Summary,” Appendix II, in “Stream-gaging cableways,” Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 3, Chapter A21.

4. Requirements.

A. Cableway Inspection.  Cableways consisting of a main cable, anchors, support structures, backstays, and other equipment are subject to damage and deterioration from temperature changes, moisture, and vandalism. The integrity of the structure also may be threatened by erosion as a result of overland runoff or by flooding. Because of this, cableways must be carefully monitored on a continuing basis and all defects corrected promptly to ensure that they are safe for use by USGS personnel. This includes any cableways not owned by the USGS but used by USGS employees. To this end, procedures for inspection and testing will be implemented as follows:

(1)  Inspection Prior to Use.  Before using a cableway, personnel will perform a visual inspection of the cableway to the extent possible. A notice must be posted at each field site as a reminder and guide for the visual inspection (Appendix 41-1), in addition to any necessary site-specific information, including date of last inspection and maximum usable stage for manned systems.

(2)  Annual Inspection.

(a)  All cableways will be inspected annually by “trained” personnel. Trained personnel are individuals who have successfully completed 20 or more hours of USGS-sponsored courses covering theory, components, construction, and inspection of cableways. Cableway inspections shall not be conducted as part of the regular data-collection process. Cableways failing inspection must not be used until the deficiencies are corrected. Inspection results are valid for one year.

(b)  An inspection sheet, Appendix 41-2, “Stream-Gaging Cableways--USGS-Inspection Checklist” or Appendix 41-3, “Bank-Operated Cableways--USGS-Inspection Checklist” will be completed at the time of each annual cableway inspection and submitted to the inspector's supervisor for review. All deficiencies found during the inspection will be noted on a “Hazard Elimination Log” (Appendix 6-2 of this handbook) or equivalent form, which will then be provided to the Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator (CDSPC). The inspection checklist should be filed in the corresponding station folder.

(3)  Load Testing.  The purpose of load testing is to evaluate the integrity of components that cannot be visually determined (most notably, the stability of A-frame footers and the holding strength of anchor blocks) and will not be undertaken to extend the useful life of and/or postpone critical repairs for marginal cableways. It is required that the Regional Cableway Specialist be consulted when determining the need for a load test.

Load testing is defined as: the testing of a cableway with a dead load equivalent to the design load of the cableway or 2,000 pounds, whichever is larger. Suitably trained personnel or a contractor will perform the load testing. In this case, suitably trained personnel are employees who have been trained as a cableway inspector (see Section (2) above).  One example of a load testing procedure can be found in Appendix 41-4.

B. Training.

Training courses will be developed at two levels.

(1)  For all employees (USGS or other) who use cableways.

(2)  For those employees who perform the annual inspection.

(a)  Information on safety practices and on pre-use inspections shall be provided to all employees who use cableways prior to their first cableway use. This shall include a combination of on-line and on-site training.

The on-line training can be accessed at the following URL:

On-site training shall be provided to new users by a senior field technician with previous cableway experience.

(b)  A training course for those employees who will conduct the annual visual inspections shall be provided. The training will include extensive discussions and lectures on the theory, components, construction, and inspection of cableways as well as slide or video presentations and field observations of potential deficiencies and inspection procedures.

C.  Cableway Construction and Materials.  Cableways must be constructed properly with the proper materials to ensure the safety of USGS employees who use them. All new construction or substantial rehabilitation of cableways will meet the criteria contained in "Stream-gaging cableways," Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 3, and Chapter A21.

(1)  Construction Procedures.  The following procedure will be followed when new cableways are constructed or when existing cableways undergo a major rehabilitation (upgrade or replacement of items such as anchor points, footings, A-frames, etc.):

(a)  A review of cableway construction or rehabilitation design plans by the Regional Cableway Specialist or other qualified personnel, as determined by the Regional Cableway Specialist.

(b)  The design plan will include, but not be limited to, the information specified in the "Cableway Design Summary," Appendix II, in "Stream-gaging cableways," TWRI, Book 3, Chapter A21; sketches of the A-Frame or support structures, A-frame or support footings, anchor points, and landing platforms; a cross section of the channel from anchor to anchor; and the maximum useable stage.

(c)  Following construction, Science Center management will provide a letter to the Regional Cableway Specialist, with copies to the Regional Safety Officer (RSO) or Regional Safety Manager as applicable, confirming construction in accordance with approved plans and verifying that the installation was inspected by a trained Cableway Inspector.

(2)  Cable Requirements.  The main cable and backstay cables on cableways should consist of wire rope or structural or tramway strand. The preferred cable for most USGS applications is 6x19 classification IWRC (Independent Wire Rope Core). Fiber-core cables may collect and hold moisture, which may cause internal corrosion and early failure. Fiber-core cables may not be used on USGS manned cableways. Fiber-core cables are allowed on bank-operated systems.

(3)  Cable Car Requirements.

(a)  Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF) cable cars.

(i)  HIF sit-down cable cars:

(ii)  HIF stand-up cable cars:

(b)  Non-HIF Cable Cars. These cable cars need to meet a minimum load carrying capacity of 2,250 pounds. All non-HIF cable cars must be replaced with HIF cable cars or load tested to ensure compliance with the minimum load carrying capacity of 2,250 pounds. The recommended solution is to replace these non-HIF cable cars with new reinforced HIF cable cars.

If a non-HIF cable car is to continue in use, it must be load tested to ensure its ability to safely carry 2,250 pounds. The Regional Cableway Specialist must be consulted to develop a testing procedure to determine whether a non-HIF cable car design can safely carry 2,250 pounds. Only the Regional Cableway Specialist can determine if a cable car design passes the load test. The Regional Cableway Specialist also will determine how many cable cars of a specific design must be tested to satisfy this requirement. Written documentation is required that describes the test procedure and the results of the test. This documentation must be signed by the Regional Cableway Specialist and must be maintained in an office file for as long as the non-HIF cable car design is used.

Some cable cars may have to carry additional weight that results from the use of such things as batteries, electrical reels, special sampling equipment, etc. The Regional Cableway Specialist must be consulted to evaluate and document the capability of any cable car to carry a load greater than 2,250 pounds.

D. Cableway Measurements.

When conducting cableway measurements, all USGS employees and contractors must wear a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved personal flotation device as described in Chapter 26, “Personal Protective Equipment,” and depending on the air and water temperatures, a float coat or survival suit for protection against hypothermia. If the protective clothing serves as a USCG-approved Type III or Type V PFD, a separate flotation device need not be worn.

USGS employees, contractors, or cooperators shall not attempt a cableway measurement unless a USGS cableway inspector has inspected and approved the cableway in the past 12 months (365 days). Do not use a cableway for any purpose unless you have completed a pre-use visual inspection to the extent possible.

Breakaway devices on the sounding reels are required and users should carry cable shears to cut the sounding cable in an emergency.

E. Cableways Removed From Service.  Cableways removed from service due to safety concerns must immediately be locked out and tagged out of service. The following procedures, (1) and (2), easily identify unsafe cableways for personnel collecting data during floods or other sampling requirements who are unfamiliar with the cableway(s). Similarly, when a cableway is no longer required, the following procedure (3) should be used until the cableway is eventually dismantled or removed. An alternative to this procedure is removal of the cable car. When a cableway has been removed from or returned to service, local management will notify the Regional Cableway Specialist and RSO describing the safety concerns and all corrective actions.

(1)  Locked Out.  The cable car must be locked in place using a sturdy lock (one that cannot be opened with the standard 2640 key). Keys to the lock must be secured in the appropriate office until it is determined that the cableway is safe to use.

(2)  Tagged Out.  A sign stating that the cableway has been "Removed from Service" must be placed on the cableway in plain view.

(3)  A cableway that is no longer intended for use must have the cable immediately removed and permanent dismantling plans developed and documented locally within 6 months of identification.  In addition, annual inspections should continue to be documented until the site is either permanently dismantled and/or put back in service.

5. Responsibilities.

A.  Bureau Safety Manager.

(1)  Provides Bureau program oversight and direction.

(2)  Monitors the regional headquarters and regional science program cableway inspection process in conjunction with regional assessments.

B.  Regional Directors and Executives.  Appoint and ensure appropriate training of at least one Regional Cableway Specialist to review design plans, provide cableway assistance, and inspect cableways for subject field organizations having cableway structures and/or operations.

C.  Regional Cableway Specialists.

(1)  Review and approve cableway construction and rehabilitation design plans.

(2)  Serve as consultant to field organizations for cableway construction or major rehabilitation and to review new cableway construction design.

(3)  Maintain design plans, etc.

D.  Regional Safety Managers.

(1)  Provide Regional program oversight and direction.

(2)  Coordinate with RSOs and Regional Cableway Specialists to monitor and assess the regional headquarters and regional science program cableway program and inspection process.

(3)  Brief the Regional Director on open deficiencies as appropriate.

E.  Regional Safety Officers.

(1)  Monitor the regional science program cableway inspection process.

(2)  Review regional science program cableway inspections to assure accomplishment of appropriate abatement actions and brief the Regional Executive on open deficiencies as appropriate.

F.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators.

(1)  Monitor the local inspection process and record annual inspection results using the criteria listed in Appendix 41-5.

(2)  Maintain a file of all cableway inspections and/or enter cableway inspections for tracking abatement actions.

G.  Organizational Managers and Supervisors.

(1)  Oversee the conduct of cableway inspections and documentation annually using Appendixes 41-2 and 41-3. Ensure that annual inspection results (Appendix 41-5) are submitted to RSO or Regional Cableway Specialist prior to October 31 each year.

(2)  Comply with standards set forth in Chapter 27 of this handbook that pertain to cableways, inclusive of height and proximity to airports.

(3)  Comply with standards set forth in Chapter 44 of this handbook that pertain to fall protection while working on cableways.

(4)  Comply with standards set forth in Chapter 17 of this handbook that pertain to suspension-cable safety markers while working on cableways.

(5)  Track deficiencies until abated. Deficiencies should be noted in the organizational Hazard Elimination Log, or equivalent form, or may be documented and tracked via the USGS web Inspection and Abatement System.  Deficiencies shall be updated every 90 days until corrective action is completed.

(6)  Review organizational open deficiencies or management action plans periodically and establish appropriate corrective action plan inclusive of costs for abating open deficiencies or for rehabilitating cableways suspended from use in conjunction with the CDSPC.

6.  Additional Resources.

A.  Appendix 41-1, “Cableway Visual Inspection Checklist.”

B.  Appendix 41-2, “Stream-Gaging Cableways, USGS-Inspection Checklist.”

C.  Appendix 41-3, “Bank-Operated Cableways, USGS-Inspection Checklist.”

D.  Appendix 41-4, “Example Load-Test Procedure.”

E.  Appendix 41-5, “Annual Inspection Designations.”

____/s/ Karen D. Baker______                                      February 25, 2008________________
Karen D. Baker                                                           Date
Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services

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