When’s the last time you had to execute a confined space rescue or even lead a drill? The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recommends a quick refresher with seven steps to help safety professionals respond if someone becomes injured, incapacitated, or trapped and must be rescued.
- Conduct rescue drills. Rescue drills provide the experience of working through various scenarios. They help prepare teams for working in confined spaces and, when, necessary, conducting a rescue.
- Know the 2 types of rescue. Time sensitive (emergency) rescues typically involve an oxygen-deficient atmosphere where there is a brief window, typically about 6 minutes, to get someone out. A non-time-sensitive rescue might involve a worker who fell and broke a leg entering a confined space, where there is no oxygen deficiency.
- Everyone wears a full body harness. Many rescues require lifting equipment to remove someone from the space. The equipment needs to attach to a full body harness. Without a full body harness, rescues can become much more difficult and time consuming.
- Survey spaces for recue. Rescuing someone in a timely way requires in-depth knowledge of the parameters of the confined space. Depending on the configuration and location of the space, it may be necessary to adjust the rescue strategy.
- Survey openings. Survey and assess openings. Don’t assume that any rescuer with a self-contained breathing apparatus can fit into any confined space and be able to move freely in it.
- Meet with local authorities about rescue capabilities. You may not always be able to rely on 911 for a confined space rescue solution. Depending on the situation, authorities may not be able to perform a rescue. If they cannot assist, you’ll need a solid backup plan.
- Assemble a rescue team. Hooking an individual to the line on a rescue winch without a team may work in some, but not all situations. If there is more than one entrant, the strategy is not feasible. You need a fully equipped, trained confined space team that’s ready to respond regardless of the space or the opening.