Confined spaces can be very dangerous. Entanglements, falls, asphyxiation, and other hazards could harm anyone who must enter these small areas. Rescuers and workers are often injured. So, when an accident happens and your workers need immediate help, you don't ever want to be caught by surprise.
Readiness isn't just about being able to help. It also means being prepared. You need a practiced, thought-out plan in place before anyone enters a confined space. For a sound ready-to-rescue plan for a confined space, you need to cover at least the following elements.
Review the Site With Rescue in Mind
Planning for any confined space emergency starts with assessing your confined space. To determine what type of rescue might be needed, answer the questions below.
- Can a worker leave the danger zone with help?
- Can an attendant rescue a worker without entering the space or is a trained rescue team needed?
Calculate Rescue and Response Times
If your confined space rescue scenarios require a team, you'll need to know how long it will take that team to respond to an emergency and rescue the worker. Add your rescue team's estimated contact, travel, assessment, and prep times to how long it will take someone to recognize to your confined space worker's emergency. Your total is your response time.
Ideally, you want your workers rescued as soon as realistically possible, so set a time frame such as in under 60 minutes. If there's no outside rescue teams nearby who could help you in enough time, consider confined space entry and rescue training for some of your other employees.
Designate a Rescue Team
Select your rescue team logically. The rescuers must be able to communicate with you, each other, and the worker. They should have comprehensive confined space entry and rescue training. They should also be able to respond to an emergency at your confined space in the quickest manner possible.
If you do not have any internal staff to designate as your rescue team, you'll need to use an outside service. If you do have the staff on-site or nearby to create a team, you will need to put someone in charge of that team and ensure they receive full training on rescue practices and equipment use.
Your internal rescue team's initial training is not enough to prepare them for emergencies. They will also need to practice rescues regularly to ensure they're up to the task in an emergency situation. Regular confined space entry and rescue training is also recommended to keep their knowledge fresh.