Safely Extract Stuck Equipment
HAVING THE RIGHT TOOLS
click image to zoomShackles have a screw-in bolt and are much safer to use than a clevis. Preparations need to be made to extract equipment and vehicles. A company should have the tools appropriate for extracting the heaviest equipment up to probably 160,000 pounds of pull. As Whitford noted, that might sound excessive, but it isn’t when mud is involved.
The persons working to extract a piece of equipment should know the weight of the equipment stuck, and if mud is involved, there will be a certain amount of suction holding the equipment. It has been determined that if equipment is buried to “tire depth,” then the pull to extract it will be the weight of the equipment plus 75 percent more of the equipment’s weight. If the vehicle or equipment is buried to “wheel depth,” then there is 100 percent more weight than the equipment to pull. If a vehicle is buried to the body, then the number goes up to 150 percent of additional weight to pull.
Another consideration about an extraction is to have the pulling vehicle/equipment on slightly higher ground if possible. In a mud situation, that means pulling up and out instead of straight against a wall of mud.
It is important to eliminate jerking by the pulling vehicle. Jerking often accelerates as the vehicle’s driver makes stronger and stronger jerks, often causing something to break.
It is imperative that employees recognize if they have the right equipment and vehicles necessary to extract the weight. Companies should not hesitate to hire a professional to do the extraction. Cables are the workhorse for extraction operations by professional towing and extraction companies, as shown by wreckers being equipped with cables.
Although cables are not commonly available for use by ag retailer or similar operations, it is important that cables be handled properly when they are used. Bent cables are a problem. Cables must have a “horse collar or thimble” in place at the end of the cable so that there is distribution of the force during the pull and the cable isn’t bent and weakened at the hookup point.
There are many cases when a piece of equipment is stuck and there is the potential for employees to extract it, but everything has to be done with safety in mind and employees educated on procedures. And they must have the proper tools for extracting the equipment and vehicles.
Whitford concluded by saying, “You need to have dedicated recovery equipment that you can rely on to safely pull out equipment.”