Tricked out trade show puts a new spin on safety.

If there was one common theme during the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, earlier this month, it was safety. 

“Recent changes have made everybody put their confined space and rescue plans in place,” said Liisa Sheldrick, marketing and communications manager for the safety division of technology conglomerate 3M. “Employers want to have employees on the job who are confident that should something happen, they’re not in an unknown situation and they have control in their hands.”

Booths with safety clothing and other safety gear, newer-safer equipment and equipment specifically set up for safety in mind — like mobile medical units — were spread throughout the area. 

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3M was showing some of its newer fall-protection equipment that can be used in the oil and gas industry. The two products 3M was highlight in outdoor demonstrations were Latchway’s Personal Rescue Device (PRD) and the Deus system. 

“We had the opportunity to partner with Northern Crane and demonstrate two of our newest fall protection products — they’re both rescue devices,” Sheldrick said. 

Here’s how the safety demonstration works: A crane raises two men rise up about 60 feet in the air on a platform. When they are up all the way, they discuss the two devices with the audience and then, suddenly, the platform gives on one side and one of the men slips out, trying to hang on. 

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His partner, still on the platform yells to him to remain calm and to remember that he is wearing a personal safety device — Latchway’s PRD. The man who had just fallen out pulls a tab on the backpack he is wearing and is slowly lowered to the ground by the pack. 

“The PRD allows anyone wearing the backpack to self-rescue up to 60 feet,” Sheldrick said. “The PRD is great because if you work alone and you work at heights and you find yourself in a dangerous situation, you don’t have to wait for a rescue team to come and get you out of danger, and no one has to come up to you.” 

After the first man is completely lowered and unhooked from the harness, his partner must now get off the non-operational platform. He slowly walks to the edge of the platform, attaches his device — a bag on his side — to the top of the platform and slowly lowers himself down after pulling a tab. 

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“The Deus is a rescue and escape device as well,” Sheldrick said, describing the bag. “The Deus will go up to 590 feet and it’s also capable of rescuing two people. The Deus is the bag and your line inside of it that can go nearly 600 feet.” 

Anthony Heuser, a project engineer for an oil company located in Alberta, Canada, was impressed with the safety devices as he watched one of the demonstrations. 

“This really could save people,” Heuser said. “Right now if we have a platform give out with a guy on it, he could be up there for over an hour while we wait for firefighters and other emergency folks to arrive. The oilfields are so remote.” 

Sheldrick noted that the PRD is a good tool for those working on rigs and platforms because it’s lightweight. “The guys don’t even realize they are wearing it.” 

Several companies also displayed safety gear — clothing, face protection, and more. 3M had a booth inside the main hall with several of its safety clothing on display. 

“We do everything from respiratory and hearing protection to fall protection, body coveralls and head, eye and face,” Sheldrick said. 

Heuser expects his company, which he declined to name, to invest more in safety gear and others to do the same. 

“I’ve looked at safety clothing throughout the show so far,” Heuser said. “There’s a lot of fire resistant stuff out there, safe-breathing equipment out there. It’s good that there seems to be a strong focus on safety right now in this industry.” 

Note: The men doing the demonstration were trained stuntmen from Circus Orange in Ontario, Canada.

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