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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 41

Cableway Safety

Instruction:  This chapter was revised to address organizational and policy changes. Significant changes include: discontinuing load testing of cableway systems, clarifying fall-protection requirements, use of the Site Information Management System (SIMS) Cableway Management System, and clarifying requirements on the use of aircraft warning markers.

1.  Purpose.  This chapter specifies the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program cableway safety requirements.

2.  Scope.  

A.  A cableway is defined as any permanent bank-supported aerial conveying system suspended above a waterway for the purpose of making hydrologic measurements.  Cableways typically are classified as either:

(1)  Manned cableways used to traverse a river in a cable car suspended from the main cable to operate measurement equipment.

(2)  Bank-operated cableways positioned on the stream bank that are used to remotely operate cableway-suspended measurement equipment.

B.  This chapter covers all activities and operations involving manned and bank-operated cableways, whether owned or not, if the cableway is used by employees, volunteers, cooperators, and contractors.  The purpose of this policy is to ensure that cableways used by employees 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 are subject to routine wear, damage, and deterioration from temperature changes, moisture, vandalism, and normal use.  “Normal use” includes the wear and tear from the cable car sheaves rolling back and forth across the main cable, cable car puller gripping the cable, and the finite service life of paint or hot-dip galvanized coatings.  The integrity of the soil supporting the structure and adjoining stream bank may also be threatened by erosion as a result of overland runoff or by flooding.  Because of the threat of erosion, cableways must be carefully monitored on a continuing basis.  All defects must be corrected promptly to ensure that cableways are safe for use.  This includes any cableways not owned by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) but used by employees.  Procedures for inspection and testing shall be implemented as follows:

(1)  Inspection Prior to Use.  Before use, personnel shall 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-A), 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 shall 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 are independent activities.  Cableway inspection may be conducted as part of a field trip for other activities where logistics dictate the necessity.  Cableways failing inspection must not be used until the deficiencies are corrected.  Inspection results are valid for 1 year.

(b)  An inspection sheet, Appendix 41-B, “Stream-gaging Cableways-USGS-Inspection Checklist,” or Appendix 41-C, “Bank-Operated Cableways--USGS-Inspection Checklist,” shall be completed at the time of each annual cableway inspection and submitted to the inspector's supervisor for review.  Deficiencies shall be recorded in the Site Information Management System (SIMS) Cableway Management Interface.  Deficiencies shall be updated every 365 days until corrective action is completed.  SIMS output shall be integrated with the Inspection and Abatement System as appropriate.

B.  Training

(1)  For all employees (USGS or other) who use cableways.  Information on safety practices and on pre-use inspections shall be provided to all employees, volunteers, cooperators, and contractors 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, Cableway Pre-Use Inspection (UDT), can be accessed through DOI Learn.  On-site training shall be provided to employees by a senior field technician with previous cableway experience.

(2)  For those employees who perform the annual inspection.  A training course entitled “Streamgaging Cableway Principles for Inspectors” is provided for those employees who shall conduct the annual inspections and maintenance.  The course consists of three days of classroom discussions and lectures on the theory, components, construction, and inspection of cableways, including exhibits and photos of actual deficiencies.  The classroom portion is followed by hands-on training conducted in the field at one or more cableway sites where students conduct the inspection procedures.

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

(1)  Construction Procedures.  The following procedure shall be followed when new cableways are constructed or when existing cableways undergo a major rehabilitation (upgrade or replacement of items such as mass anchors, 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 shall include the information specified in the "Cableway Design Summary," Appendix II, in "Stream-gaging Cableways," Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 3, Chapter A21.  Examples include:  sketches of the A-frame or other support structures, A-frame or other support footings, anchorage, and landing platforms; a cross section of the channel from anchor to anchor; and the maximum usable stage.

(c)  All new construction and major rehabilitation projects shall be coordinated with the local cableway specialist, Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator (CDSPC), and (or) the Regional Safety Manager to ensure that all safety aspects of the project have been adequately addressed.

(d)  Following construction, Science Center management shall provide a letter to the Regional Cableway Specialist, with copies to the Regional Safety Manager or Occupational Safety and Health Management Branch National Programs Safety staff, 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 shall consist of wire rope or structural strand.  Structural strand may also be called tram or tramway cable.  The preferred cable for most USGS applications is 6x19 classifications Independent Wire Rope Core.  Fiber-core cables shall not be installed on USGS manned cableways or bank-operated systems.  Fiber-core cables may collect and hold moisture, which may cause internal corrosion and early failure.  Fiber-core cables are to be replaced on existing cableways as time and resources allow.

(3)  Cable Car Requirements.

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

(i)  HIF sit-down cable cars.  A HIF reinforcing kit (part number 2602010) must be installed on all HIF sit-down cable cars manufactured prior to September 2007.  The reinforced cable car can be modified per HIF specifications to accommodate sediment and other water-quality samplers.  

(ii)  HIF stand-up cable cars.  A HIF reinforcing kit (part number 2601030) must be installed on all HIF stand-up cable cars manufactured prior to September 2007.  The reinforced stand-up cable car can be modified per HIF specifications to accommodate sediment and other water-quality samplers.  

(b)  Non-HIF Cable Cars.

(i)  Non-HIF cable cars need to meet a minimum load carrying capacity of 2,250 pounds or be replaced with HIF cable cars.

(ii)  If a non-HIF cable car is in use, the Regional Cableway Specialist must be consulted so that a determination can be made whether a non-HIF cable car design can safely carry 2,250 pounds.

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

(4)  A-Frame and Platform Requirements.  All A-Frame towers and platforms must conform to the construction standards specified in “Stream-gaging Cableways," Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 3, Chapter A21.  In addition, ladders and platform railings must conform to SM 445-2-H.44 Fall Protection.

(a)  Fixed ladders that are more than 20 feet long must have landing platforms, ladder safety devices, or cages.  Bolt steps are permitted, but distances greater than 20 feet must have a ladder safety device in place.

(b)  Platform railings shall consist of a top rail, intermediate rail, and posts.  The height of the top railing must be 42 inches.  The top rail shall be smooth surfaced.  The ends of the rails shall not overhang the terminal posts except where the overhang does not make a projection hazard.  The railing shall be capable of withstanding a force of at least 200 pounds applied within 2 inches of the top edge, in any outward or downward direction, at any point along the top edge.

(5)  Marking.

(a)  Determine if cableways must be retrofitted with aircraft warning markers.  This applies to all cableways, not just cableways that require markers due to Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

(b)  The factors listed below shall be considered when determining whether cableways must have warning markers.

(i)  Length of cable span.

(ii)  Height of cable above water surface.

(iii)  Presence of A-frames or supporting structures that are concealed or obscured.

(iv)  Scenic river reach, sightseeing area, and possible search-and-rescue activity.

(v)  Area of military training or activity.

(vi)  Area with logging or oil and gas operations.

(vii)  Area of activity for scientific studies.

(c)  For technical information and specifications for warning marker installation, contact a Regional Cableway Specialist.

D.  Cableway Measurements.  When conducting cableway measurements, all employees, volunteers, cooperators, and contractors must wear a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved personal flotation device (PFD) as described in SM 445-2-H.26 Personal Protective Equipment.  Depending on the air and water temperatures, a float coat or survival suit for protection against hypothermia is required.  If the protective clothing serves as a USCG-approved Type III or Type V PFD, a separate flotation device need not be worn.  Employees, volunteers, cooperators, and contractors shall use a cableway measurement unless a cableway inspector has inspected and approved the cableway in the past 12 months (365 days).  Additionally a cableway shall not be used for any purpose unless a pre-use visual inspection has been completed to the extent possible.  Breakaway devices on the sounding reels are required and users shall carry cable shears to cut the sounding cable in an emergency.

E.  Replacement of Cableways.  If an existing cableway can be replaced by a bank-operated system or another means of streamflow measurement, replacement must be considered.  Replacement cannot be bi-passed in order to extend the use of a cableway that does not pass the manned cableway inspection.

(1)  Locked Out of Service.  The cable car must be locked in place using a sturdy lock that cannot be opened with the standard 2640 key.  Keys to the lock shall 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" shall be placed on the cableway in plain view.

(3)  A cableway that is no longer intended for use shall have the cable car immediately removed and permanent dismantling plans developed and documented.  In addition, annual inspections shall continue to be performed and documented until the site is either permanently dismantled or put back in service.

(4)  Plans to demolish and remove cableways shall include the following:

(a)  If the property owner is not known, perform deed research to determine ownership and contact the property owner to obtain access permission. 

(b)  If access is approved, obtain the necessary permits.  If access is not approved or the owner does not respond, contact the Science Center management.

(c)  Perform traffic control if near public roadways.

(d)  Protect vegetation, including trees, to the extent possible.

(e)  Remove the cable car; fencing, if applicable; aircraft markers and provide notifications as required; main cable and backstays, if applicable; A-frame or other supporting structure; attaching hardware (U-bars, Eyebolt, etc.).  Either remove or bury concrete anchors no less than 2 feet under grade.  Fill and compact with natural materials to industry standards.  Remove footing, including attaching hardware, and fill and compact with natural materials to industry standards.

(f)  Dispose of materials based on local, state, and Federal directives.

(g)  Clear site, remove debris, and match land as close as possible to surroundings. 

(h)  If concrete removal requires drilling and blasting, ensure that appropriate licensing and permit and (or) certification are obtained.

(i)  Document completion, including before-and-after photographs, with date and time stamps.  At a minimum, there shall be three different views with sufficient detail to see the entire work location.  

(j)  Document that materials were removed and delivered to an approved disposal site.

(k)  All cableways to be removed need to be entered in the Discontinued Station - Capital Improvement Program.

(l)  Consult the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Handbook to determine and assess environmental impact(s) during the initial project planning stage to determine the best course of action to meet the purpose and need of the project.

5.  Responsibilities.

A.  Director.  Directs cableway safety program activities through the Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

B.  Associate Directors and Regional Directors

(1)  Appoint and ensure appropriate training and funding of at least one Regional Cableway Specialist to review design plans, provide cableway assistance, and inspect cableways for organizations having cableway structures and (or) operations.

(2)  Ensure that managers and supervisors are accountable for ensuring compliance with cableway safety program requirements.

(3)  Ensure that cableway deficiencies are abated in a timely manner.

C.  Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

(1)  Exercises the authority of the Director to establish, develop, direct, and manage an effective cableway safety program.

(2)  Assigns authority to the Chief, Office of Management Services, for program management and administration.

D.  Chief, Office of Management Services.  Supervises the Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager and provides sufficient authority and resources to effectively support and represent the interests of the USGS in the oversight, management, and administration of the cableway safety program.

E.  Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.

(1)  Provides cableway program oversight and direction.

(2)  Monitors the cableway inspection process in conjunction with program evaluations.

F.  Regional Cableway Specialists.

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

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

(3)  Maintain design plans, etc.

(4)  Conduct Cableway Inspector courses in each region annually or as needed.

G.  Cableway Inspectors.

(1)  Complete formal class instruction on cableway technology in accordance with 41.4.B(2)(a) and have field experience in the operation of stream gaging cableways before taking on the role of cableway inspector. 

(2)  Conduct annual cableway system inspections.

(3)  Document findings on the standard USGS inspection form and provide any supplemental information and photographs as site conditions might dictate.

(4)  Submit the completed inspection form in a timely manner so findings can be used to report the safety status of cableways.

(5)  Communicate any findings or uncertainties observed during the inspection that might indicate an unsafe cableway system requiring immediate attention.  The process would typically involve communication with one or more cableway specialty and safety staff, as well as management staff closely involved with local operations.  Staff might include the local cableway specialist, local safety officer, local field office supervisor, and data chief.  The Regional Cableway Specialist and Regional Safety Manager may also be sought for advice.

H.  Regional Safety Managers.

(1)  Monitor the regional cableway inspection process.

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

I.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators.

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

(2)  Maintain and track the status of all cableway inspections and abatement actions in the SIMS Cableway Management System.

J.  Science Center Directors, Cost Center Managers, and Project Chiefs.

(1)  Oversee the conduct of cableway inspections and documentation annually using Appendices 41-B and 41-C.  Ensure that annual inspection results (Appendix 41-D) are entered in SIMS prior to October 31 each year.

(2)  Comply with standards set forth in SM 445-2-H.27 that pertain to cableways, inclusive of height and proximity to airports and cableway marking.

(3)  Comply with standards set forth in SM 445-2-H.44 of this handbook that pertain to fall protection while working on cableways.

(4)  Track deficiencies until abated as described in 41.4.A(2)(b).  

(5)  Review organizational open deficiencies or management action plans periodically and establish appropriate corrective action plans 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-A Cableway Visual Inspection Checklist.

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

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

D.  Appendix 41-D Annual Inspection Designations.



/s/ Jose R. Aragon                                                                              October 11, 2016
_________________________________                                          _____________________
Jose R. Aragon                                                                                   Date
Designated Agency Safety and Health Official
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