Not being able to rescue an employee from a confined space can negatively impact your company and the workers. If your facility has a permit-required confined space, you may need to prepare for rescue to reduce potential injury and fatality risks.
Generally, having a Confined Space Rescue Team at your facility isn’t a legal requirement currently. However, OSHA demands that you have suitable emergency arrangements present at all confined space entry/exit points, and this may include having an on-site or standby rescue team.
According to OSHA safety standards, your facility should have a confined space program that incorporates the essential measures, systems, and all rescue resources:
- Have adequately trained confined space rescuers.
- Identify areas considered dangerous and mark them with ‘Permit required.’
- The rescue team should be trained in personal protective equipment inspection and maintenance.
- Have appropriate equipment for confined space entry and exit.
What is a Confined Space Rescue Team?
A confined space rescue team is a group of trained personnel specialized in technical rescue operations that involve rescue services, rescue equipment, and recovery of victims stuck in confined spaces, based on OSHA requirements. These confined spaces may include underground storage tanks, vaults, tunnels, process vessels, sewers, storage silos, and more.
But how effective is a confined space rescue team? The Confined Spaces safety standards demand that anybody who intends to enter or work in a confined space must be appropriately trained and prepared in regard to that specific, confined area.
OSHA safety regulations help protect workers from injury and other on-site dangers when working in permit-required confined spaces. The most common confined space-associated risks may include chemicals, gases, free-flowing solids, gases, heat, oxygen deficiency, explosions, and more.
Unsure when you need to work with rescuers? Well, the best way to tell if you need a confined space rescue team is first to assess the dangers of a particular risk that an employee needs to be retrieved from a confined space, should they become unconscious.
Whether you’re a contractor specialized in confined area environments, a supervisor, or an outage coordinator, it’s essential to understand the risks associated with confined space operations to implement necessary control measures to remain compliant and protect the workforce. Emergency arrangements for rescue mainly cover First Aid, rescue equipment, fire safety, safeguarding the rescuers, training, and public emergency services.
On-site and Standby Confined Space Rescue Team
On-site confined space rescuers can be hired during a planned entry into a confined space. They must be on-site for tasks that have a toxic IDLH (Immediately dangerous to life or health) atmosphere that cannot be managed with forced air ventilation.
Standby confined space rescuers must be near the workspace and ready to jump into action right away. According to a standard caveat by OSHA, the rescue team should manage to respond in a timely manner. This leaves the burden of executing a “timely manner” mission with the team’s management, considering that seconds count tremendously when an incident happens.
In a nutshell, it’s paramount to have a confined space rescue team in place whenever you are operating in such risky environments. However, you should ensure to hire a team that has the proper training, experience, and equipment to perform the task effectively.