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Confined space

Confined spaces are those that are large enough to enter and perform work inside; have a limited or restricted means of entry or exit; and yet are not designed for continuous human occupancy. They’re found in industrial settings, commercial facilities, hospitals, universities, and even on farms – and include various types of tanks, cargo holds on ships, silos, utility vaults, boilers, sewer and water manholes, elevator shafts, dumpsters, tunnels, and more.

Death and injuries result from entrapment and drowning due to asphyxiation and toxic chemical exposure. In many of these incidents, it is not just the person entering the confined space who dies, but also the “rescuer” who may be unaware of the hazard.

NFPA research indicates that fire departments conducted an average of 580 confined space rescues per year during 2014-2016.  

Featured item First responder confined space safety

First responder confined space safety

Confined space emergencies are rare, high-risk incidents. When they do happen, they can lead to firefighter injuries or deaths. First responders must be aware of the hazards and limitations of confined spaces so they can be prepared when they approach an incident in or around a confined space, and when they attempt to enter confined spaces during non-emergencies.

Download the fact sheet

Featured item Confined space pre-incident emergency action plan

Confined space pre-incident emergency action plan

Pre-incident emergency action plans should be developed to prepare first responders for safe practices associated with rescue from specific and generic confined spaces.

Download the action plan.

Featured item Confined space response action guide

Confined space response action guide

This action guide provides a list of considerations for first responders to review when responding to a confined space incident.

Download the action guide.

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Featured training

NFPA 350: Safe Confined Space Entry and Work (2016) Online Training Series

NFPA 350: Safe Confined Space Entry and Work (2016) Online Training Series

Workers entering or working in confined spaces often face life-threatening hazards and by law, employers must comply with applicable OSHA regulations. Learn how to recognize, evaluate, and control hazards in confined spaces with the NFPA 350: Safe Confined Space Entry and Work Online Training Series.

Marine chemists certification

NFPA Certificated Marine Chemists are holders of a valid Certificate in accordance with the  Rules for the Certification and Recertification of Marine Chemists,  establishing they are qualified to determine whether entry and work within confined spaces on marine vessels and within shipyards may be undertaken safely in accordance with  NFPA 306 . NFPA Marine Chemists are distinguished as the only independent specialists incorporated by name in both U. S. Department of Labor (OSHA) requirements for shipyard employment and U. S. Coast Guard hot work regulations.

Also available:   Maritime Confined Space Safe Practices Seminar The 3-day training seminar is based on OSHA’s maritime confined space standard, 29 CFR 1915, Subpart B and NFPA 306.

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What are the emergency procedures for confined space workers?

What Are The Emergency Procedures For Confined Space Workers

In this article

Some occupations require work in confined spaces. Whilst it may seem a simple task, it can be dangerous for workers if it is not properly planned, assessed and controlled.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

Things can and do go wrong when working in confined spaces. An emergency situation can quickly arise, which can expose workers to serious and imminent dangers. Therefore, employers must have emergency procedures and rescue plans in place to get workers out of the confined space as quickly and as safely as possible.

If there are no emergency procedures and rescue plans or suitable equipment for rescue, this can lead to costly delays. It can even put other workers’ lives at risk if they enter the confined space. In an emergency, every second really does count.

This article will look at what confined spaces are, including some of the risks workers can face. It will also cover the need for emergency procedures and what a rescue plan should cover.

Electrician Working In A Confined Space

What is working in confined spaces?

What is a confined space.

For an area to be a confined space, it must meet particular criteria under the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 .

It is classed as a confined space if:

Confined spaces possess certain features that can make them hazardous.

These features can include:

Some confined spaces are more obvious than others. Some can even become a confined space due to the nature of the work and the hazards present, e.g. fumes created by welding.

Examples of confined spaces

What jobs require confined space work?

Confined space entry may be necessary for most industries at some point in time. However, there are some industries and occupations that are more likely to encounter confined space work.

Some examples of these are:

Hazards and risks associated with confined spaces

Confined spaces are high risk, as hazards can arise from:

Some examples of confined space hazards are:

A space is classed as a confined space if there are one or more specified risks present or the risks are reasonably foreseeable.

These risks include:

It would only take a matter of minutes for one or more of these specified risks to cause serious injury or death.

The HSE’s guide to working safely in confined spaces has further information on the risks.

Showing Someone Working In A Confined Space

Emergency procedures

Confined space emergencies.

The type of confined space emergencies will depend on the task, the hazards in the confined space and the equipment used.

Some examples of emergencies can include:

The risk assessment for confined space entry and work should cover all foreseeable emergency scenarios.

Legal requirements

Emergency arrangements are a legal requirement under Regulation 5 of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 .

No one should enter or carry out work in a confined space unless there is:

It doesn’t matter if the emergency results from a specified risk or not. The regulations still require emergency arrangements to be in place, e.g. if a worker became unconscious due to ill health or was injured in a fall, it should be included.

The emergency arrangements required will depend on:

Rescue plans

A rescue plan is a fundamental part of confined space entry planning. Without it, how will people know how to respond if a worker is stuck in a confined space, and what equipment will they use to get them out? If there is no plan, this could make the situation worse.

It could also be life-threatening if there is a significant delay in emergency response or if fellow workers carry out the rescue without appropriate equipment and training.

Rescue plans can be generic or specific. The type required will depend on the complexity of the rescue from the confined space and the anticipated emergency. A generic plan will not be sufficient for more complex situations. Therefore, rescue plans must contain enough information to execute a safe rescue.

There are three main types of rescue:

The above is a sort of hierarchy, with self-rescue being the best option. It is the best option, as it doesn’t put anyone else at risk, and it is a quicker form of rescue. Entry rescue should be the last option, as it puts other people at risk and exposes them to the hazards in the confined space.

Showing A Rescue Team Helping Someone Out Of A Confined Space

What to include in a rescue plan?

According to the Approved Code of Practice , for arrangements for rescue and resuscitation to be suitable and sufficient, they should cover:

Employers and those in control of the confined space work can use these headings when putting together their rescue plans.

Resuscitation and rescue equipment

Raising the alarm and rescue

Safeguarding rescuers

Fire safety

Controlling plant

Public emergency services

Fire And Rescue Team

Emergency plans should also consider the following points:

Rescue plans should be regularly tested to see if they work. This helps those who are involved so they will know what to do in an emergency. It also allows an opportunity for learning lessons if something goes wrong in the practice rescue.

Safe systems of work

Things can change quickly in a confined space, which makes it high risk. Therefore, where reasonably practicable, confined space entry should be avoided. Not only is this a requirement of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997, but it also eliminates the risks associated with entry into such a hazardous area and the need for rescue.

If confined space entry is unavoidable, a safe system of work must be in place before the work starts, which is based on the results of the risk assessment. It includes the need to account for the emergencies that could arise from confined space entry and the rescue arrangements required to get workers out of the space.

A typical safe system of work would contain the following sections:

Confined spaces are dangerous, and there have been a number of fatalities associated with working in them. Workers have also died when they have entered to try to help colleagues who have got into trouble. Work in confined spaces can potentially result in multiple fatalities. Therefore, the risks should not be taken lightly.

Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees when working in confined spaces. Part of their duty is to have emergency arrangements in place if entry is unavoidable. Employees also have responsibilities and must follow their employer’s emergency procedures, arrangements and plans. Overall, it is about ensuring that workers go home safe and well at the end of their working day.

emergency plan for confined space

Confined Spaces

About the author.

Michelle Putter

Michelle Putter

Michelle graduated with an MSc in wildlife biology and conservation in 2012, but her career has taken quite a different turn to the one expected. She started in health and safety in 2009 and has worked in several industries such as electrical engineering, aviation and manufacturing. She has been working with CPD Online College since 2018 and became NEBOSH Diploma qualified in 2020. In her spare time, Michelle's passions are wildlife and her garden. She has volunteered for many conservation organisations and particularly enjoys biological recording. Michelle also likes hiking, jogging and cycling.

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Confined Space Rescue Plan

emergency plan for confined space

Confined space rescue plan

This lesson discusses procedures for confined space rescue operations and emphasizes the need for safe operating procedures . Practice and proficiency using mechanical- all will advantage systems, anchors, and rescue equipment is critical to the safety of all response personnel involved.


Confined spaces can be deadly.

Many people are killed or seriously injured while working in confined spaces each year . According to the Workplace Safety and Health Council , 10 per cent of workplace fatalities were due to work-related accidents in confined spaces.

These fatal accidents happened across a wide range of industries: from complex plants to simple storage vessels. Those killed were not only people who worked in confined spaces but also others who tried to rescue them. Therefore good safety practices should be implemented to ensure a safe working environment for everyone.

Contributing factors to fatalities from confined space accidents:

It is “A MUST” to have a written and established rescue operation plan on-site that includes equipment, such as retrieval devices, breathing and resuscitating apparatus, ready for emergency use immediately. The severity of accidents can be reduced with timely alerts from attendants outside the confined space. A well-trained and fully equipped rescue team can ensure a speedy response in an emergency.

Emergency Rescue – The change in perspective:

Emergency rescue from a confined space is a matter of life and/or death.  To this point we have concentrated upon routine entry and exit procedures. It may have appeared that we have not been making life and death decisions in these routine processes, but in fact, we have. When we routinely evaluate the space and perform the entry in accordance with the permit,weare making decisions that may mean the difference between a problem-freeentryand a body recovery. Many of these same thought processes that are required in the emergency rescue are also used in the routin entry. If that is the case,why is it so much more difficult to perform in an emergency setting? Lack of time is the critical factor. A sense of urgency is some times used as an excuse for making decisions or performing actions that place others at undue risk. Following are a few emergency rescue operation priorities.

The first priority is to keep all rescuers alive .  It may seem callous, but you did not create  this  situation.   It  is  your  job  to  do  everything  that  you  and  your  fellow rescuers can SAFELY do to help the victim.  However, there will be situations that you will not be able to help. It is critical that the person in charge of the rescue effort  recognize  when  the  risk  to  the  rescuers  sur passes  the  gain  to  the  victim.  When  the  risk  is  evaluated  to  be  too  great,  it  is imperative  that  the  person  in charge have sufficient character to delay or suspend the rescue effort even when that decision is unpopular.

Don’t take shortcuts. As stated before, time is the enemy in rescue operations.  Don’t allow rescuers to take    shortcuts in appropriate procedures for the sake of saving time.  This is especially true in space evaluation.  If an emergency occurs in a  space,  a  permit-like  evaluation  procedure  needs  to  be  performed  unless  the cause for the emergency can be unequivocally identified.  Most of the time, short- cuts  don’t  save  all  that  much  time  anyway.  (Ever  get  lost  taking  a  “shortcut“?)  Rather  than  relying  on  shortcuts  to  shave  time  off  of  the  response,  practice, training, and preparation can maximize efficiency and enhance safety.

The  person  in  charge  may  chose  to  isolate  themselves . By being in a remote location, the person in charge can insulate himself/herself from the emotion of the rescue. Further more,  this  individual  can  choose  with  whom  they  will  interact.  There are no screaming bystanders or irate supervisors to deal with. Isolation may also improve access to communication  facilities,  technical  information,  or  other resources that may   prove  helpful in the effort. Isolation  is a matter of personal choice.  If the person in charge chooses to be at the     site of the rescue however, they  should  already   have  the  mental  mechanisms  in   place  to  deal  with   the distractions.

Preplanning and training:

Every person who is involved in  a  confinedspace  rescue   must  not   only  have   a  mental image of the technical aspects of the rescue, but should  also  anticipate  the  entire  range  of  emotional  reactions  that  one  would expect to encounter.  Most people who deal in the emergency arena daily indicate that the keys to being a successful emergency worker are the ability to concentrate under  pressure and the control of personal emotion. Once  these  hurdles  arecrossed, one can think clearly and allow their training and experience to dictate their tactical objectives.

Confined Space Rescue:

Confined space emergencies are  one of the  leading causes of multiple deaths in the workplace.   In most cases the emergency began with very few people in the space. Then  untrained  and/or  unprotected “rescuers”  added  to  the  problem  by entering the space and becoming victims them selves. As stated before, about 60 percent  of   victims  are  would-be   rescuers. Additionally a majority of these individuals are supervisors and/or senior personnel who should know  better. Oddly enough, there  are  many  cases  where  the  initial  entrants  survive  and  the would-be rescuers die.

The  regulation  mandates  that  an   employer  ensures  the  availability  of  rescue services prior to space entry. The rescue team may be from within the plant or may be from an outside agency.  Either way, a specific mechanism needs to be in place prior to entry that guarantees that rescue resources are available if needed.  Personnel assigned to an in-plant rescue team are to be provided with, and trained in the proper use of,the personal protective equipment necessary for  making rescues from the employer’s permit spaces.

If the employer decides to use an in-plant team, the employer shall ensure that the in-plant rescue team is trained to perform the assigned rescue functions and has received  the  training  required  for  authorized  entrants. Rescue  teams  should practice making permit space rescues at least once every 12 months by means of simulated rescue  operations.  In these simulated rescue operations, they remove dummies, mannequins or personnel through representative openings and portals.

Each  member   of  the  rescue   service  shall  be   trained  in  basic   first  aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.  At least one member of the rescue service holding current certification in basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) shall be  available  during  rescue  activities.  If  the  employer  chooses  to  use  outside rescue services, the employer shall inform the designated rescuers of the hazards they may confront when called to perform rescues the employer’s facility.  While no  specific  permit  is  required  for  rescue,  those  involved  in  the  rescue should review the entry permit and apprise themselves of the hazards they may encounter prior  to  entry.   This  is  especially  true  for  any  outside  services  that  may  not  be familiar with the particular space.

OSHA is aware that, from the viewpoint of elapsed time, in-plant rescue services are optimal.   They also realize that not all employers have the equipment and/or the personnel for such a team.  If an outside rescue service is used, their response time, their continuous  availability  during  the  entry,  and their rescue capabilities need to be established prior to entry.

A  specific  mechanism  for  summoning  the  rescue  service  is  required. In  most cases specific phone numbers, radio frequencies, or other type of communication medium  is  listed  on   the  entry  permit. The  attendant   is  responsible  for  that communication and should perform communications check prior to entry.

The employer shall provide access to all permit spaces from which rescue may be necessary  so  that the rescue service can develop rescue plans  and  practice operations. The employer shall also evaluate the response cabilities and training of the off-site response team.

Rescue Arrangements:

The risk assessment will determine what rescue arrangements are necessary. The arrangements will depend on the nature of the confined space, the risks identified and the types of emergency situations which are foreseeable. It is important to note the possible emergencies in the confined space, and any other foreseeable accident for a rescue operation. For example, the incapacitation of a person, wholly or partially, following a fall inside a confined space.

Possible confined space rescue strategies include the following:

It is important for suitable and sufficient emergency arrangements to take account of:

Types of Rescue:

There are three types of rescue that may be employed in the confined space setting:

1.   Self-rescue

2.   Non-entry rescue – external

3.   Entry rescue – internal

Obviously self-rescue has many advantages over the other two forms of rescue.  With  self-rescue,  emergency rescue personnel do not have to enter the space. Risky extrication and/or removal techniques are not required if self-rescue can be employed. Also, by virtue of the fact that the  individual is still conscious, the chances that the entrant will recover from the emergency  are  good. Hazard recognition can prevent serious exposure and injury.

The use of retrieval systems can be very effective in assisting in the rescue of an unconscious employee from a confined space. These systems allow rescue from outside  the  space. Here  a  problem  may arise in that in order to provide the greatest degree of safety, the  final  rule  requires  the use of retrieval systems or methods whenever an authorized  entrant  enters a permit space  except in situations in which retrieval equipment would increase the overall risk of entry or would not contribute to the rescue.

OSHA will use the following guidelines to make the determination for enforcement of this provision when inspecting permit spaces regarding retrieval systems:

2. A permit space from which an employee being rescued with the retrieval system would be injured because of forceful contact with projections in the space does not require the use of a retrieval system.

A  permit space that was entered by an entrant using an air-supplied respirator does not require the use of a retrieval system if the retrieval line could not be controlled so as to prevent entanglement hazards with the air line.

However, exceptions from the  use of a retrieval system from    this standpoint may not necessarily exempt use of retrieval systems as described in 29 CFR 1910.134 (e)(3)(iii):

Persons   using   air   line   respirators   in   atmospheres   immediately dangerous  to  life  or  health  shall  be  equipped  with  safety  harnesses  and  safety lines  for  lifting  or  removing  persons  from  hazardous  atmospheres,  or  other  and equivalent provisions for the rescue of persons from hazardous atmospheres shall be used.  A standby person or persons with suitable SCBAs shall be at the nearest fresh air base for emergency rescue.

Non-entry  rescue, as the name implies, is rescue performed from outside the space. Prior to entry, retrieval systems and body harnesses should be in place in the event  that conditions  change. In  most cases non-entry rescue involves removal using these lines. It’s important to plan and conduct the entry with this form of rescue in mind. Pulley systems, tripods, and space entryways should be arranged so that there is minimal chance for line entanglement. Non-entry rescue cannot be used for an individual who is entangled, trapped, or bound-up within the space; it can be used for engulfment situations as long as the amount of engulfing material is small enough to allow the victim to be unearthed using line tension. In some cases non-entry rescue is another name for body recovery. Individuals who are trapped in “no entry spaces,” or are  in  locations  where  the  risk  of  entry  far outweighs the gain, may have to be removed

Entry rescue is clearly the form of rescue that presents the greatest risk to the rescuer. It entails  actually placing an individual into the hazardous space. Entry rescues should be avoided  whenever  possible. If entry rescue cannot be avoided, then SCBA, lifelines, harnesses, retrieval systems, and appropriate levels of protective clothing are required.

Planning and communication are vital in entry rescue. Since an entry is being made, all safety check protocols must be performed and an attendant will be required. If a change in the space is thought to have caused the emergency, appropriate  testing  and  monitoring  should  be  repeated. While  a

Characteristics When Deciding the Appropriate Rescue Plan:

Internal Configuration:

i. Open — there are no obstacles, barriers, or obstructions within the space. One example is a water tank.

ii. Obstruction — the space contains some type of obstruction that a rescuer would need to manoeuvre. For example, a baffle or mixing blade. Large equipment, such as a ladder or scaffold, brought into the space for work purposes would be considered an obstruction if the positioning or size of the equipment would make rescue more difficult.

i. Elevated — a permit space where the entrance or opening is above ground by 4 feet or more. This type of space usually requires knowledge of high angle rescue procedures because of the difficulty in packaging and transporting a victim to the ground from the space.

ii. Non-elevated — a permit space with the entrance located less than 4 feet above ground. This type of space will allow the rescue team to transport an injured worker normally.

Portal Size:

i. Restricted — A portal of 24 inches or less in the smallest dimension. Portals of this size are too small to allow a rescuer to simply enter the space while using SCBA. The portal size is also too small to allow normal spinal immobilisation of an injured worker.

ii. Unrestricted — A portal of greater than 24 inches in the smallest dimension. These portals allow relatively free movement into and out of the permit space.

Space Access:

i. Horizontal — The portal is located on the side of the permit space. Use of retrieval lines could be difficult.

ii. Vertical — The portal is located on the top or bottom of the permit space. Rescuers must climb down or up the permit space respectively to enter it. Vertical portals may require knowledge of rope techniques, or special patient packaging to safely retrieve a downed entrant.

The authorised manager shall ensure that openings for entry and exit to a confined space are of adequate size to permit rescue of all persons who may enter a confined space. The openings are not obstructed by fittings or equipment which could impede rescue. It is important that rescuers be trained in and follow established emergency procedures and use appropriate equipment and techniques (such as lifelines, respiratory protection, and standby person).

Conducting of Drills:

It is important that all parties involved in a potential rescue operation understand and agree on the emergency and evacuation procedures. It is necessary to include all steps for safe rescue in the confined space entry procedures. It is also critical for a rescue to be well planned and evidence to be made available that indicates drills have been frequently conducted on emergency procedures. A rescue drill in a confined space shall be held at least once in every 12 months. The record of such a drill should be kept and should include the time, date of drill, personnel involved, a short description of the drill and the evaluation of the drill.

It is also important to note that workers who are not trained in proper rescue procedures should not undertake or be permitted to undertake rescue operations.

Specific Rescue Problems:

Vertical entry into tanks and vessels is relatively uncomplicated as long as a point of  attachment  can  be  made for a lifting  device. Attachment to roof members, booms, or tripods on the tank make lifting easy.Tripods,however, are designed to lift  from  the  center. A  problem will be  encountered if  the  patient  needs to be lowered  down  the  outside of the tank since the center of mass would  now be outside the tripod. Another point of attachment or manual  lowering will  be necessary.

Dikes or vertical walls present a problem in that there is usually no point of attachment for a lifting device. A point of attachment can be made by raising an extension  ladder above the wall, or by  using a boom truck, forklift, or  other elevated platform. If the extension ladder is used, make sure that the ladder is braced against lateral (side-to-side) movement.

Manholes are challenging because of  their limited entrance areas. SCBA backpacks may have to be removed and passed  though the hole to allow entrance. This is a very dangerous maneuver and should be attempted only by individuals specifically trained in this procedure. Finding a point of attachment for a lifting device may be a problem if a tripod is unavailable. This may be solved by placing two trucks side-by-side with the manhole in between.  A ladder could then be  placed  across the trucks to span the space above the manhole. If  this procedure is used, make sure the trucks are turned off and the vehicles isolated so that they do not move and their exhausts do not enter the space.

Atmospheres that contain corrosive chemicals are a threat to the nylon harness and rope material. In other atmospheres where skin exposure poses a threat to the  rescuers, chemical  protective  clothing must be donned prior to entry. The application of a body harness and lifeline to someone in a fully-encapsulated suit has its challenges. The bulky nature of the suit will also impede and  restrict movement in the space and in the space opening.

It is really important to determine the objectives of the rescue before making entry.  It is imperative for the leader of the rescue group, as well as each rescue team member, to evaluate all potential   hazards. The atmospheric conditions, entanglement and engulfment hazards, the circumstances of the accident, the time involved, and the probable victim outcome should all be given consideration prior to entry. Do not put the rescue team at undue risk to try to rescue a victim who may have already died.

Anchor and Rigging Systems:

Anchor“ means to secure ropes and equipmentof  the  rescue  system  to  something  that  is  solid and  will   not  fail   under  the   stress  of  loading. Rigging   is  the   system   of   rescue   ropes  and hardware attached to the anchor system. Anchors  must  be  the  strongest  link  within  your system. “Bombproof”  is  a   term  for   anchors strong enough to withstand any force the system may deliver to the anchor.

“Bombproof” Anchor Rigging:

A suspect anchor, or an anchor that may not be bomb proof, should be backed upwith  a  secondary  anchor. However, the use of several weak anchor points is undesirable and should be avoided. If one anchor fails, the shock loading will lead to failure of all points. If a secondary anchor is needed, it should be as strong or stronger than the primary anchor.

Good structural anchors include structural steel, davit arms, beams, stairwells, and heavy  hand  rails. Bulk concrete anchors are found in supports, columns, and corner  walls. Cast or insulated  small diameter pipes, corroded metal, small diameter hand rails, old brickwork,light metal supports, and vents are not bomb- proof anchors and should be avoided. A tensionless tie-off utilizes the friction generated by coils of rope wrapped around the anchor as a means of anchoring a rope. A 4:1 tensionless anchor requires a minimum of three (3) wraps of rope around an anchor that is at least four (4) times the diameter of the rope. All other rigging must have a backup rig.  If an anchor point has sharp edges, rigging should be padded.

Rigging Cautions:

Team Members and Their Duties:

A haul or lower team requires two to four people depending upon the mechanical advantage of the system.  4:1 systems require up to    4 people.  Where as 5:1, or greater, systems require only two people.  Within this team someone needs to be designated for the following duties:

Individuals may be required to cover more than one duty, such as, the Person-in- charge may also need to be the attendant or on the haul team.  This is dependent upon  the  number  of  personnel  available  and  the  type  of  rescue/rigging  system used.

Rescue Safety Rules:

Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors, Entrants and Confined Space Attendants:

Supervisors are responsible for:.

a. ensuring that entrants and confined space attendants are briefed on the safety and health precautions to take prior to confined space entry and work;

b. authorising entry into confined spaces;

c. ensuring that entrants and confined space attendants adhere to entry procedures;

d. rescue equipment and appointed rescue personnel are available when confined space work is to be carried out;

e. implementing control and preventive measures to manage all identified hazards are implemented;

f. applying the entry permit and have it endorsed by the Authorised Manager before commencement of confined space work;

g. terminating the entry permit after completion of work.

Entrants are responsible for:

a. following entry and work procedures when carrying out work in confined spaces;

b. carrying a portable gas/vapour measuring instrument for continuous monitoring of the atmosphere in the confined space for the full duration of their work;

c. inform the confined space attendant of any unsafe atmospheric conditions / when any emergency situation arise; and

d. inform co-workers to evacuate from the confined space should the portable gas/vapour instruments’ alarm be activated due to unsafe atmospheric conditions.

Confined space attendant is to:

a. monitor entrants entering and working in a confined space;

b. maintain regular visual and or verbal contact with the entrants in the confined space;

c. inform entrants to evacuate the space should the need arise; and

d. alert the rescue personnel to activate the rescue operation in the event of an emergency.

Rescue Logistics:

It is important to give careful consideration on the means of raising the alarm and carrying out a rescue. This emergency plan needs to be suitable and sufficient for all anticipated accidents.

It is necessary to put in place measures that enable those in the confined space to communicate to others outside the space who can initiate rescue procedures or summon help in an emergency. The emergency can be communicated in a number of ways, for example, by the tug of a rope, by radio or by means of a “lone worker” alarm. Whatever the system, it should be reliable and tested frequently. Depending on the risk assessment, it may be necessary to have one or more standby persons located outside the confined space whose function is to keep those inside in constant direct contact including visual where feasible, in case of an emergency.

It is also important to give careful consideration on the selection of an appropriate confined space rescue strategy. Retrieval using non-entry methods is preferable to rescue by entry and should be used where practicable.

Where entry is necessary, it is important to ensure the rescuers are protected from the risk of injury and to address any emergency situation.

Training of Rescue Personnel:

Familiarity with procedures and equipment is essential. It can be developed and fine-tuned by frequent drills and realistic simulation.

All rescue personnel need to understand the likely causes of an emergency. They will need to be familiar with the rescue plan and procedures developed for each type of confined space that they may encounter. They need to be able to rapidly size-up an emergency situation and evaluate their ability to conduct a safe rescue. These factors need to be given consideration in the development of a training programme. It is important to design the training in such a way that rescuers are capable to perform rescues in a safe and timely manner.

Rescuers need to be fully familiar with the equipment for use in rescue, communications or medical purposes and operation. They would need to check that the equipment is functioning well before use. It is important for potential users of breathing apparatus to receive appropriate formal training. It is critical for trained persons to carry out the resuscitation procedures efficiently. Designated first-aiders need appropriate current certification.

Provision of Rescue Equipment:

Suitable and sufficient rescue equipment is needed to respond to an emergency in a timely and safe manner. It is important to list the appropriate equipment for the likely type of emergencies in the risk assessment. It is crucial to maintain the rescue equipment properly and make them readily available whenever and wherever confined space work is undertaken.

For example, rescue equipment may include:

Rescue equipment will often include SCBA. Its duration in use is governed by the size and number of cylinders and its type (open- or close-circuit).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

It is essential to conduct a proper assessment of conditions and identify work processes that require additional protective equipment for the task to be undertaken. For example, the possibility of personal exposure to toxic substances and traumatic injury requires the consideration of full body protection.

It is necessary to provide appropriate first aid equipment and make available for emergencies. It is important to have first-aiders trained to deal with the foreseeable injuries.

It is essential to maintain and inspect all equipment provided for an emergency. Inspection also includes periodic examinations and tests according to the manufacturer’s instructions or the appropriate requirements of health and safety legislation.

The examination of ropes, harnesses, lifelines, protective clothing, and other special equipment will normally consist of a thorough visual examination of all their parts for deterioration or damage, in particular, on those parts that are load-bearing. It is necessary for the examinations to be carried out regularly and a record kept of them.

Click the below link to download the PPT and safety check sheet



Confined space rescue drill

Confined space rescue

Creating a Confined Space Rescue Plan: Every Step You Need

Table of contents, step 1: understand the emergency, step 2: conduct a site assessment, step 3: ensure that permit procedures are in place and working, step 4: create the rescue plan, step 5: drills.

The majority of confined space fatalities are from rescue attempts. Proper planning is critical.

Creating a Confined Space Rescue Plan: Every Step You Need

Conducting a rescue in a confined space involves negotiating unique and difficult hazards. Seconds count – there is no time to think, coordinate, or organize beyond what is absolutely necessary.

Failure to plan properly can mean the difference between a successful rescue and a body recovery. It can mean the difference between one casualty and several. In fact, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) claims that 60% of confined space fatalities consist of would-be rescuers entering the space without adequately protecting themselves.

Preparation is key. And using a structured approach to developing a rescue plan gives you the best chances in an emergency.

Creating a confined space rescue plan requires special attention. This guide provides an overview of the steps that will help direct this process.

Emergencies come in many varieties, so the first consideration should be “what happened?”

The rescue effort needs to be appropriate to the nature of the emergency. There’s no need to execute a tactical operation if a worker simply feels nauseous and can safely exit the space themselves.

Workers entering confined spaces need to be trained on how to recognize symptoms of hypoxia or narcosis in case air monitoring fails, ideally giving them time to self-rescue. Despite the simplicity, self-rescue is still considered a type of “rescue” by some definitions and is preferable where possible to basically any other rescue type because it doesn’t involve additional parties.

(Learn more about The Dangers of Gas in a Confined Space .)

Rescue plans, however, mainly deal with interventions by rescuers or rescue teams. They pick up from the point at which self-rescue is no longer possible.

Rescues can be offensive (rescue) or defensive (recovery). The latter is a situation where the rescued worker is unlikely to be revived. Due to the nature of hazards in confined spaces such as hazardous atmospheres, response times need to be incredibly short to be effective. In as little as 4-6 minutes, a rescue effort can turn into a recovery effort.

Timelines vary for both rescue types. For example, a rescue for a worker who breaks their leg inside a vessel is certainly an emergency, but it is less time-sensitive than one involving a contaminated atmosphere. There wouldn’t be a frantic rush to get them out, even though this would be an "offensive" type of rescue.

(Learn about Workplace First Aid Basics for Broken Bones .)

Well before any confined space entry takes place on a site, those spaces have to be identified, classified, and labeled.

A “confined space” is any area not designed for continuous human occupancy, with a limited means of ingress and egress. Whether or not a permit is required for simple entry to these spaces may vary depending on their characteristics, but certain spaces always need a permitting system.

Permit-required confined spaces have the same properties as non-permit spaces, but also have the potential to develop a hazardous atmosphere, contain engulfment hazards, converging walls, or sloping floors that open to another area where a worker could become trapped.

Confined spaces on a site should be assessed to determine what special equipment or procedures may be involved when conducting a rescue operation.

OSHA requires employers to develop a permitting system for allowing workers into confined spaces. Permits have to include information about the location, authorized personnel, and hazard control. This information can be invaluable to the rescue process.

Permits must include the following information:

Rescue plan parameters should be decided on for all confined spaces, then documented and trained. Knowledgeable and experienced individuals should collaborate to decide how these general categories apply to their organization’s activities.

(Find out How to Safely Rescue Someone from a Confined Space .)

Additionally, protocol for certain specific types of scenarios should be considered, including:

It is not enough to create a plan. Emergency preparedness means the plan has been tested and the critical actors have had a chance to practice. This means that rescuers have tested out access to confined space, practiced removing casualties (dummies or volunteers), moved the necessary equipment into place and used it. Success of the drill has to be reviewed so that opportunities for improvement and deficiencies can be identified.

For all things Confined Space, check out our Confined Space Knowledge Center .

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Written by Daniel Clark | Safety and Quality Management System Specialist

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Daniel Clark is the founder and President of Clark Health and Safety Ltd., providing safety and quality consultation across various industries in Calgary, Alberta. Daniel has a Bachelor of Science degree, certification in health and safety, certificates in both CAD design and CNC, auditing certifications and the designation of Canadian Registered Safety Professional. Being raised and practicing in Calgary, the heart of Canada’s energy industry, most of Daniel’s career has been energy related. He has performed safety and quality roles from field supervision to office-based administration and management. Daniel’s consulting business has worked with organizations offering engineering services, restoration, pipeline, environmental, manufacturing and food service.

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The seven steps of confined space rescue.


1. Conduct rescue drills

One of the best ways to prepare is to practice. There are many theories about the best practices for confined space rescue and rescue drills allow OSH professionals to put those theories to the test.

Rescue drills provide personnel the experience of working through different scenarios in order to familiarize themselves with situations they could encounter in confined spaces. Conducting rescue drills helps prepare teams for working in confined spaces, and when necessary, rescuing coworkers.

2. Understand that rescues fall into two categories

There are time-sensitive and non-time-sensitive rescues. Time-sensitive or “emergency” rescues typically involve oxygen-deficient atmospheres where there is a small window of time, typically six minutes, to get someone out.

An example of a non-time-sensitive rescue would be a situation in which someone falls and breaks an ankle going into a confined space. In these types of circumstances there are sufficient O 2 levels and, therefore, the rescue is not as time-sensitive and can be conducted without the use of supplemental oxygen.

Understanding both types of rescues helps safety professionals develop strategies for implementing and executing an appropriate response.

3. Make every entrant wear a full body harness

Of all the equipment involved in confined space rescue, perhaps the most important is the full body harness. Many rescues require lifting equipment to remove a person from a confined space, and that lifting equipment will need to attach to a full body harness.

The harness plays an important role in both vertical rescues to help lift a worker out of a space, and horizontal rescues to help place the worker on a stretcher or rescue board.

Without a full body harness, rescues can become much more difficult and time-consuming. Workers do not want to have to place a full body harness on an inert body, particularly if it is a time-sensitive rescue.

4. Survey confined spaces for rescue

Rescuing someone in a timely manner requires an in-depth knowledge of the parameters of the confined space. Depending on the configuration and location of a space, the OSH professional may need to adjust the rescue strategy.

In the chemical industry for instance, the traditional tripod used to lift workers out may not be feasible in all confined spaces. As such, anchor eyebolts may need to be installed over the confined space entry points for vertical rescues. Surveying beforehand will help determine the proper tools and techniques for working within a confined space, and getting someone out in a rescue situation.

5. Survey openings

Along with surveying confined spaces, it’s also important to survey and assess openings. Some may think that a rescue person with a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) can fit into any confined space, and/or be able to move freely within it. In many instances, that is not the case.

Surveying openings provides an assessment of how much room workers and/or rescuers will have to enter a confined space, and what types of equipment they will be able to bring with them.

6. Meet with local authorities about rescue capabilities

It is important to remember that it is not always possible to rely on 9-1-1 for a confined space rescue solution. Depending on the situation, authorities may not have the manpower or capability to perform a rescue.

Understanding the capabilities of local authorities helps safety professionals develop rescue plans suited to each particular situation. If local authorities are not able to assist, the OSH professional must adjust accordingly to ensure that the proper personnel are in place to respond to an emergency.

7. Have a rescue team

In many rescue situations, workers think that they can hook a person up to the line on the rescue winch and don’t need a rescue team. While this strategy might work in situations where someone goes straight to the bottom of a confined space and does not move, those types of incidents are rare. Furthermore, if there is more than one entrant, that strategy is not feasible.

Safety professionals need to ensure that they have fully equipped and trained confined space rescue team (CSRT) ready to respond in an emergency situation. Regardless of the confined space or opening, a rescue team needs to be prepared and ready to respond in a timely manner if someone is injured, trapped or incapacitated.

CSRTs could be qualified members of an employer’s own team, local emergency response or an outside contractor. The team’s makeup will depend on several factors including budget, local resources and the availability of qualified personnel.

ANSI/ASSP Z117.1-2016  provides minimum safety requirements for entering, exiting and working in confined spaces at ambient atmospheric temperature. The purpose of Z117.1-2016 is to establish minimum requirements and procedures for the safety and health of employees who work in and in connection with confined spaces.

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emergency plan for confined space

Great refresher for me, the need to consider entry openings and the need to have a plan B so that rescue plan may not be absolutely dependent on 911

I will want to add that a quick assessment of the the confined space for safe atmospheres, especially in a chemical industry wuld make rescuers safe

Good information

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Confined Space Emergency Rescue Plan

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Working in confined spaces can pose a risk to workers being partially or fully enveloped by soil or other material.

Having an emergency rescue plan in place when there is a risk of engulfment can be critical in saving lives.

This Confined Space Emergency Rescue Plan details a seven-step process for making the area safe after an incident as occurred and retrieving the person/s engulfed.

Confined Space Emergency Rescue Plan Contents:

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Heavy Rescue

Confined space response: It’s all about proper planning

Four steps to help your team develop a sound confined space rescue plan

If you’re questioning whether your organization should be prepared for a confined space event, the answer is YES. Every municipality – rural urban, or suburban – has confined spaces. If your municipality has a civil infrastructure involving any type of utilities, telecomm, manufacturing, etc., then you have confined spaces.

To properly identify these spaces, you can reference NFPA 1006: Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Qualifications , NFPA 1670: Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents , as well as OSHA 1910 . The standards and guidelines provide the necessary backdrop for you attack this challenge head on – and in a compliant manner.

The purpose of this article is not to discuss the types of confined spaces but rather to shed light on the importance of developing a response plan for them. So let’s dig in.

Steps to plan for confined space incidents

Once you have identified the existing confined spaces in your jurisdiction, following a system or algorithm will help assist you in planning for the potential confined space event. Here is a suggested approach:

Let’s go through each of these steps.

1. Establish a risk profile

When you identify the confined space, coordinate with the owner of the space, much like you would do to create a building preplan.

Conduct a physical assessment or walkthrough of the space. Obtain or create a site map and preplan document of the space, identifying characteristics, dimensions, hazards, purpose, classification, entries and control measures.

If there are alarm and suppression systems in the space, determine the alarm design and purpose as well as communications. For example, some spaces with specific atmospheric hazard potentials will have detectors designed to alarm in the presence of said conditions. When the alarm is activated, many industrial complexes receive that alarm before it is directed to 911 so that they can determine the authenticity of the alarm. This avoids false alarms and unnecessary responses, but it can also put first responders way behind the eight ball in an event. It’s best to talk to the space owner regarding these processes to find mutually agreeable solutions. This rings true with any hazards or characteristics of the space that can be altered from a preventative perspective to reduce risk factors.

Once the space itself has been dissected, shift your attention to the entry operations. How often do employees enter the space? What safeguards and measures do they use to isolate hazards? How many employees enter the space? How do the entrants and attendants communicate emergencies? Is there a standby emergency team in place or are the entrants relying upon 911 response for rescue procedures?

As you progress through these operational questions, combine the answers with the information obtained regarding the space itself and you have the ingredients for your risk assessment.

In basic terms, if the space and/or the entry operations present a high level of risk to the entrants and to rescuers, then classify it as a high priority for training and planning. If it is a low-risk conclusion, then bump it down the priority list. This is imperative because you will find that you have far more confined spaces to prepare for than you can imagine. Many of the lower-risk spaces will share some common characteristics and be far more forgiving toward shortfalls in prolonged planning and training than the high-risk spaces. The potential for frequency will also play a large role in prioritizing spaces. Spaces that are high risk and entered frequently present the highest likelihood for an actual event.

2. Develop a rescue plan

With the new risk profile preplan, take a whole new approach or look at the space now. Look at it from the perspective of first rescuing a would-be victim and then of rescuing a rescuer.

Scrutinize everything about the space and the entry operations to plan out hazard assessments, hazard management, entry techniques, resource requirements (including staffing and PPE), anchors and approaches for rigging, alternative means of egress, communications, victim access and packaging, extrication and situation containment. It works well to walk through an event in your mind, from alarm and dispatch to conclusion, and include all realistic possibilities for a rescue scenario.

Make the plan initially based on a best-case scenario for responders. This means you can map it out based on best response times, mutual-aid arrival, all resources available, etc. Once you have completed this fairytale, start poking holes in it by applying reality checks. This will help quickly identify your organizational shortfalls in properly trained personnel, equipment, staffing, communications … and the list goes on.

Now build a preliminary plan and document based on a realistic expectation with a plan and proposal for improvements and corrective actions to transcend to something better!

Remember that every rescue event should include a rapid-intervention team (RIT) component. We must be prepared to save our own when things go south. As such, part of the plan should include all of the elements required to pull that off.

#3 Practice the rescue plan

Owners of confined spaces are required by OSHA/NFPA to make their spaces or comparable training spaces available for rescue rehearsals to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). Required is a strong word, but a cooperative approach geared toward saving lives and improving both organizations’ practices and preparation is usually not hard to implement when approached professionally.

Rescue Team members should be thoroughly briefed on the rescue plan. Conduct walkthroughs of the space, and perform building block training evolutions in the space or a similar training prop. Building blocks means that the team can break down task groups and conduct focused training sessions with those areas of responsibilities. For example, one training session might deal solely with hazard assessment and management. This would mean all team members actively deploy all required sampling equipment, reference all related materials, such as MSDS and NIOSH guidebooks, develop purge times and ventilation plans, isolate and lock-out/tag-out required hazards, integrate hazmat operations as needed, and progress toward a real-time scenario assessment with critical analysis or post-incident evaluation.

Once all of the task groups have been completed, a large-scale scenario can be created to put it all together. This will involve a full-blown rescue scenario with mannequins or live “victims” when appropriate.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a one-trick pony. Consistent and recurring practice is essential to performing at a high level when the event occurs. This approach can also help emergency response organizations with complying with NFPA and OSHA recommendations for annual performance of certified rescue skills.

#4. Evaluate the rescue plan

Now poke holes in everything again!

I firmly believe in creating slightly unrealistic expectations and continually moving the bar. This will keep your rescue team on the cutting edge of their capabilities and provide continuous motivation and focus toward a goal. Critically analyze time frames, equipment usage, technical skills, scene management, hazard management, standard compliance and communications. Resist the temptation to pat yourselves on the back when there areas for improvement. Squeeze everything through the filter of rescue vs. recovery and ensure that you are giving your victims the best opportunity for survival.

This phase is also the time to re-engage the space owner and request any necessary changes to the space or their entry operations that might enhance rescue operations.

Once the evaluation is complete, create a corrective action plan with identifiable benchmarks and refine the rescue plan. Now dig back in and start practicing.

Remember that the only real way to vet a plan is to perform it under realistic conditions.

When we competed as a team in GRIMP North America Con Space Rope Challenge , we were overwhelmed initially by the complexity and difficulty of the scenarios and the criteria for success. However, we knew that the scenarios had all been vetted by the evaluators who completed all the scenarios as a team and then established the performance goals. That means it can be done – with proper training and resources.

Our communities are depending on us

In conclusion, it can be daunting to implement confined space programming this intensive, but yes, it can be done. The communities that count on us deserve our best preparation, so be encouraged and set to it. Stay safe and train hard.

[Read next: Essential tools for confined-space rescue ]

About the author

Dalan Zartman is a 20-year career veteran of the fire service and president and founder of Rescue Methods, LLC. He is assigned to a heavy rescue and is an active leader as a member of both local and national tech rescue response teams. Zartman has delivered fire and technical rescue training courses and services around the globe for the last 15 years. He is also an international leader in fire-based research, testing, training and consulting related to energy storage. Zartman serves as regional training program director and advisory board member for the Bowling Green State University State Fire School. He is a certified rescue instructor, technical rescue specialist, public safety diver, fire instructor II, firefighter II, and EMTP. Connect with Zartman via  email .

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What To Include In A Confined Space Rescue Plan

emergency plan for confined space

07 Oct What To Include In A Confined Space Rescue Plan

Approximately, 2.1 million workers enter permit-required confined spaces each year. According to NIOSH, out of all the incidents that resulted in injuries or fatalities, 0% of them had a Confined Space Rescue Plan. The fatal accidents not only included people working in confined spaces, but also rescuers themselves.

To avoid these fatalities and to reduce the severity of accidents, it is imperative, as well as a legal requirement, to have a Confined Space Rescue Plan in place. A trained team of rescuers, equipped with a detailed rescue plan and emergency response procedures, will ensure that the rescuers have the ability to respond and conduct a rescue in a safe and timely manner.

Here’s what to include in a Confined Space Rescue Plan:

1. Evaluation of the type of permit-required confined space.

While every situation and space is unique, there are some general types of confined spaces, based on the type of entry, how restricted the space is, as well as the accessibility of the portal. Including this information in the rescue plan provides advance knowledge for the rescuers.

2. Identifying the method of rescue operation necessary for the space.

There are 3 types of rescue techniques. Non-entry technique is when the rescue operation may need to be performed by means of a rope or a winch. Entry by Others is an operation performed by personnel not trained in confined space settings. Entry by Trained Employees includes personnel who are specifically trained to conduct rescue operations.

3. Training and practice for the rescue team.

All rescue personnel must be fully trained prior to being put on a rescue team. Training must include practice situations with regards to equipment, elevation, entry and exit. Supplemental training must be provided to refresh emergency procedures.

4. Communication procedures in confined spaces.

Communication procedures should include how an emergency may be communicated between the confined space and the rescue team. They should also take into account weekend and night shift workers.

5. Fire Safety precautions including fire-fighting equipment

If there is a risk of fire in the confined spaces, fire safety procedures must be included in the rescue plan. Fire fighting equipment must also be made available.

6. Emergency services and operations.

The confined space rescue plan must also include procedures to communicate with local emergency service providers, such as emergency notifications, contacts, and other necessary information.

emergency plan for confined space

7. First Aid procedures 

Rescue operators need to be fully trained in basic first aid procedures. Or first aid providers should be available and included in the rescue plan. First aid equipment should also be made available.

Creating a confined space rescue plan can be a complex, daunting task, however, it is also a necessary and required step if you have a permit-required confined space on the premises. it is advisable to seek professional help to avoid life and death situations.  Refer to OSHA’s website for more info about their standards and resources for Confined Spaces .

Creating Your Confined Space Rescue Plan

Illustration of a confined space rescue using a Pelsue Davit System

A well-thought out, well-executed confined space rescue plan can mean the difference between life and death.

Confined space rescue is a sensitive operation, one you don’t want to improvise.   You can have the best  equipment, but if your team is not prepared to use it, a bad situation can quickly get worse.  

According to the CDC ,  would-be rescuers account for 60% of all  confined space deaths.   Without a well   – thought – out and rehearsed  rescue plan, both  injured workers and panicked helpers are at risk.  

Rescues  are a high-stress situation. When people are under stress, they  don’t   always  make the best decisions.  While having a plan  won’t  remove all of the pressure  of a rescue,  it does make your response more automatic, reducing the risk of a fatal mistake.  

We  are going to take some time here to go over the very basics of what it takes to create your rescue plan.  We’ll  also talk about  why the alternatives OSHA offers employers can come up short.  

Before  we begin,  just  a reminder that  these guidelines are just the start.  It is up to you to formulate your safety plans in accordance  with  OSHA guidelines and your specific jobsite.   And this post IS NOT a substitute  for  thorough, on-hands training.

With that said, let’s take a look at  the three building blocks of any  good confined  space safety plan:  prepar ation , planning, and practic e .

Prepare  Your Confined Space Rescue Team  

You know your  work crews better than anyone. You can use that insight to identify who would be best suited to conducting confined space rescues.

In a  previous post ,  we outlined some of the qualities to look for when appointing a confined space attendant.  And some of those basic traits also apply here.  

First and foremost, you want people who are calm under pressure.  Rescue from confined spaces can involve  injured parties,  deadly gases, and a ticking clock.  Your rescue r  needs to be aware of danger, but  also  able to focus on the task at hand.  

Ask yourself: do they handle stress  well ?  Do they ask for help when they need it?   Are they able to focus while  multiple things are going on around them?  Do you trust them?

If you answered yes to all of those questions, that may  well be someone you want on your rescue team.

You’ll  also want to make sure that your rescue team communicates clearly and effectively , so that  should anything go wrong during operations , the entrant can ask to be pulled out .

If  you ’re  part of a larger crew, you may need different rescue teams at different jobsites simultaneously.  Designate enough  members for your confined space rescue teams that  you ’ r e  covered everywhere you work  o n a given day.

You may know that OSHA allows for  employers to rely on local emergency services  for confined space rescue , rather than an in-house rescue team.

Drawbacks to Using Local Emergency Services  

While  that may sound good — there are significant drawbacks that  mean it is  not recommended  that you rely on 911  for confined space rescue.

T here’s  a pretty good chance your field work  t akes  your  crews over a larger geographical area than the jurisdiction of your preferred age ncy.  Even i f  that’s  not  the  case, that same variation can make response times unpredictable.  

OSHA requires  employers  to  use emergency  services which are already equipped for  rescues . They must have adequate  equipment   like  gas monitors, fall protection, extraction equipment, and self-contained  breathing apparatus  (SCBA) .  Not every agency has all this.  

When choosing an emergency service, OSHA also requires employers to  select one that is able to respond quickly to different  hazards on site. Your desired agency must also agree to inform you if their rescue team becomes unavailable.  

Emergency services are responsible for everyone in their jurisdiction. Though  it may seem unlikely that  two confined space rescues   would be needed in different locations at the same time,  it’s  not a risk worth taking.  

Some guidance outlines  the difference between what’s known as time-sensitive  and not time-sensitive rescues.  Technically,  a time-sens itive rescue involves outside hazards like gas or fire .   A non-time  sensitive rescue would be a worker with a broken ankle but with no other hazards present.  

It’s  important to act  efficiently in time-sensitive rescues, but  the sooner an y  injured worker can be rescued ,  the better.   Bring the sense of urgency to all rescues that you would to time-sensitive ones , and  your outcomes should generally improve.  

Part of maintaining that urgent mindset  means having rescuers on hand.  Choosing to name and train your own in-house rescue teams means help is always at hand  and eases the burden on emergency services.  

Jobsite Planning  

Why spend so much time up top on choosing the members of your rescue team?  

Because every step of planning that follows should involve your rescue team.  These are the people you need to respond quickly when the chips are down , after all.  

So  gather your rescue  team  around you,  it’s time to make a rescue plan.   

Based on your past experience with a certain type of job , you may already be familiar   with the hazards you may face. And  that’s  great!  You can definitely draw on that knowledge, but  don’t  rely on it.  

The basis of any effective confined space rescue plan is  familiarity with the workspace.  Before work actually starts, the rescue team needs to survey  the entire area.   

Potential rescuers need to know the size, location, and layout of any areas they might need to enter.  Where are there corners, obstructions, or pockets of space where a fallen  worker may be located?  

If an injured worker is very lucky,  they’ll   fall straight below the confined space entrance, making it easy to hook them up to an extraction device.    

More likely,  they’ll   be deeper inside the confined space and having rescuers familiar with the layout will speed recovery and help prevent additional injuries.  

Beyond that, intimate familiarity with the layout will help with the extraction of the injured worker.  Any obstructions between the worker and the path of exit need to be cleared, otherwise the rescue could  fail  or the worker could suffer more injuries.  

The  bottom line here is take the time. Take the time to go over the space  with your rescue team. Take the time to  make diagrams and discuss  potential rescue hazards with your team. Every minute you spend now will pay dividends in an emergency.  

After analyzing potential hazards, make a list of  what additional equipment  your rescue team might need to keep close (SCBA in case of gas, for example).  

Make sure your rescue equipment is inspected and ready to go.  We’ve outlined this process in an  earlier  post , and you’ll save valuable time conducting these inspections  in the field before you need the equipment.

Finally, take the time to  write what  you’ve  discussed with your team into a rescue plan.  Having something on paper helps ensure consistency  in  high-stress situations.

Between  making the plan and getting to work,  there’s  one important thing left to do.  

Graphic illustrating the three important stages of formulating a confined space rescue plan.

Preparation, planning, and practice are the essential steps of preparing your confined space rescue plan.

Practice Your Workplace Rescue Plan  

Now that you have your plan in hand , take the time to run through  at least one practice scenario.

I t’s  crucial that your rescue team doesn’t just know what they need to do , but that they have gone through the process themselves.  They might  spot problems with the plan they wouldn’t otherwise . Even a minor correction could be lifesaving.

Additionally, the more you practice rescue plans ,  the more your rescue team develops  muscle memory for each task involved in rescue.  So much of this process is about shaving seconds off rescue times, and every little bit helps.  

It’s  important to not just limit these drills to the members of your rescue squad , rather your whole team should  at least observe  your practice rescues.  

If your whole crew is familiar with how your rescue procedures are executed, they will be less likely to obstruct or interfere with rescue , and they may even be able to spot problems your rescue team misses.  

Practice before starting work and  whenever you have downtime. Familiarize your rescue team with their equipment and always build towards the  ideal: smooth  rescues that almost seem automatic .

We say  “ almost  seem automatic”  because, as  we’ve   laid out, even mundane rescues require attentive, thorough preparation.  Each step , from preparation to planning to practice, is  designed to ensure your rescues are executed effectively.  

It may seem like a lot, but if it means one of your crew gets home safe to their family , it’s more than worth it.

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Confined Space - Program

On this page, what is a confined space hazard assessment and control program, what is an entry permit system, what should happen when work is being done in a confined space, what are some emergency response precautions, how many people must be present while work is being done in a confined space, is worker training important.

To manage the risks associated with working in confined spaces, employers must develop and implement a confined space hazard assessment and control program. A confined space hazard assessment and control program, specific to the work being conducted, should be written for work in each and every confined space.

A confined space hazard assessment and control program should include the following:

More information about confined spaces is located in the OSH Answers documents  Confined Spaces - Introduction and Confined Space - Atmospheric Testing .

An entry permit is an administrative tool used to document the completion of a hazard and risk assessment for each confined space entry. Someone fully trained and experienced in confined space work should complete the entry permit. Some jurisdictions require a permit for all confined space entries. An entry permit is required for confined spaces where the hazard and risk assessment determined that the measures to control the risk involve the following:

Before entering a confined space, an entry permit should be completed. It should contain at least the following information:

The entry permit should be posted at the confined space and remain so until the work is completed. The employer should keep a copy of the completed permit on file.

Use warning signs to prevent unauthorized entry to the confined space.

Anyone working in a confined space must be constantly alert for any changing conditions within the confined space. In the event of an alarm from monitoring equipment or any other indication of danger, workers should immediately leave the confined space.

At least one other worker, the attendant (also known as the safety watch or standby), is posted outside the confined space and continuously monitors the workers inside the confined space. The attendant has the following duties:

Should a worker leave a confined space for a short time (for example, coffee break, getting additional material for their work), the confined space should be re-tested before the worker re-enters. If the confined space has been continuously monitored by equipment that can show the details of the atmosphere during the time absent from the confined space and this information can be seen from outside the confined space, it can be re-entered without retesting. If there is no continuous air monitoring then the hazard assessment needs to be repeated.

No confined space should be closed off until it has been verified that no person is inside it.

After exiting the confined space, the time of exit should be noted on the entry permit.

The detailed plan for emergency response to an injury or other emergency within the confined space should be described in detail in the confined space hazard assessment and control program.

If a situation arises where there is a hazardous condition and the worker does not leave or is unable to leave the confined space, rescue procedures should begin immediately.

Rescue personnel who are qualified in confined spaces rescue procedures should be available immediately nearby the confined space to provide emergency assistance if needed. The rescue personnel should be familiar with the structural design of the confined space.

Rescue the victims from outside of the confined space, if possible. No worker should enter a confined space to attempt a rescue unless that worker is fully trained in the rescue procedures and is wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment. More than 60% of deaths in confined spaces are would-be rescuers, who are not fully trained and adequately equipped.

An attendant should remain outside the confined space to monitor the space while there are rescue procedures taking place.

Rescue personnel should not use the same air as the confined space workers they  are rescuing. Wear SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) or supplied air respirator with an escape bottle where possible.

Personnel who can provide first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are also required.  These persons can be the attendant or other rescue personnel, as long as providing first aid or CPR does not interfere with their other duties (requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction).

Some jurisdictions require a certain number of workers be present.  For example, New Brunswick requires three - the entrant, a person standing at the entrance (attendant), and a back-up employee within sight and shouting distance with no obstructions or barriers to overcome to reach the space (for example, not in another room or a parking lot). Each person has to be trained to carry out their responsibilities.

Other jurisdictions describe the qualifications that must be fulfilled, which may vary in the number of people present.  For example, Ontario describes this requirement as having an adequate number of persons trained in the following to be immediately available to begin on-site rescue procedures as required:

Yes, appropriate training is extremely important to working safely in confined spaces, as well as for attendant and rescue personnel. Hands-on training should be an essential part of the confined space training.

Every worker that enters a confined space must be fully trained on the following:

Workers with emergency rescue responsibilities will need additional specialized training. All confined space training should include some hands-on training with the safety equipment including the personal protective equipment and safety harnesses. Rescue procedures should be practiced frequently so there is a high level of proficiency. Employers should keep records of all confined spaces training including refresher courses.


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    Confined Space Emergency Plan . Site name Location on site GPS coordinates Plan developed by Date (DD/MM/YYYY) Emergency communication requirements. Emergency phone number: 000 or 112 from a digital mobile phone Potential rescue situations Engulfment. Height Hazardous atmosphere Hazardous chemicals Fire. Electrical Other please specify:

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    Emergency plan, and the protective equipment and emergency equipment to be used by any person who takes part in a rescue or responds to other emergency situations in the confined space A signature of a worker who did the confined space air testing.