Whenever you have confined spaces your employees or contractor must enter, you need to have a clear and actionable plan for the various rescue scenarios that could arise. If an emergency occurs, the health and safety of those in the confined space is at immediate risk.
You must have regular confined space rescue drills
Whether you are planning on having a rescue team made of trained employees or an experienced third-party confined space rescue service provider, you should have drills. If you are going to have a group of employees act as a rescue team, they should run regular drills of the different rescue situations they may encounter in your space. If you are using an outside provider, you should have drills with all of your on-site employees to ensure they know what steps to take, including how to contact the rescue team in the event of an emergency.
Know that rescues can be divided into two categories
There are two broad categories a rescue can fall into. “Emergency” rescues are very time-sensitive, such as an employee being trapped in a space with insufficient oxygen. But there are also rescues that are less time-sensitive, such as when an employee breaks an ankle in the confined space and needs help to get out, but they have enough oxygen and are not in any other danger.
Entrants should wear a full-body harness
A full-body harness may very well be the most vital piece of equipment in a rescue in a confined space. Many rescues will require the use of lifting equipment to get the person out of the confined space, and that equipment must be attached to a full-body harness.
In a vertical rescue, the harness helps rescuers lift the worker out of the space. In horizontal rescues, they help rescuers place the worker on a rescue board or stretcher.
Without a full body harness, it can be far more time-consuming and difficult for rescuers because they must try to put a full body harness on a person who may not be able to move, something that is hard to do and can waste precious minutes in a time-sensitive rescue situation.
Have confined spaces and their openings examined
Your rescue team will have a much easier and faster time during a rescue if they have full knowledge of the space’s parameters. Having the area surveyed beforehand and installing any permanent tools that may be needed for a rescue, such as anchor eye bolts, will ensure you are prepared as possible for potential emergencies in advance.
Along with the examination of the space, any openings in the space should be surveyed. This is done so you and your confined space rescue team will know how much room, workers and rescuers will have to enter the space and what type of equipment will fit into it.
Last but certainly not least, you must have a rescue team designated and prepared at all times. Contact a professional confined space rescue service to have your team fully trained and kept up to date on their knowledge or to arrange for third-party rescue services.