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Permit-required Confined Spaces and Emergency Responders - August 2017
OSHA recently developed a standard for
confined spaces in the construction industry (29
CFR 1926 Subpart AA). These spaces can present conditions that are
immediately dangerous to your workers’ lives or health if not properly
identified, evaluated, tested and controlled. As a result, preparing to respond
to an accident in a confined space is just as important as training workers to
One provision of the standard requires
employers to develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and
emergency services in permit-required confined spaces. Any employer who relies
on local emergency services for assistance is required to meet the
applicable requirements of the OSHA standard.
However, not all rescue services or
emergency responders are trained or equipped to conduct rescues in confined
spaces. When you identify an off-site rescue service, it is critical that the
rescuers can protect your employees. The emergency services should be familiar
with the exact site location, the types of permit-required confined spaces and
the necessary rescue equipment.
Pre-planning for a rescue will ensure that
the emergency service is capable, available and prepared to save your workers.
Before the start of any rescue operation,
you must evaluate prospective emergency responders, and select one that has the
- Adequate equipment
for rescues, such as the following:
- Atmospheric monitors
- Fall protection
- Extraction equipment
breathing apparatus (SCBA) for the particular permit-required confined space
- The ability to
respond and conduct a rescue in a timely manner based on the site conditions,
and the capability to conduct a rescue if faced with potential hazards specific
to the space. These hazards may include the following:
- Atmospheric hazards
- Flooding or
- Poor lighting
- Chemical hazards
- The ability to
notify you in the event that the rescue team becomes unavailable.
To ensure the safety of your workers, you
must take a proactive role in securing the services of emergency responders.
This includes finding the most efficient way of contacting emergency
responders, conducting a tour of the project site with them and communicating
any changes made to the site before a rescue becomes necessary.
Talking with emergency responders about the
hazards they might encounter during a rescue will assist in preparing for the
situation. The following are some questions responders should be able to answer
when you request their services:
- Are you able to
respond and conduct a rescue in a timely manner based on the site conditions?
- Do you have the
appropriate equipment for response and rescue?
- Are you prepared for
the hazards identified at the project site?
- Are you aware of the
exact location of the work site?
This includes information on access routes, gates, site plans and GPS
- Can you visit the
site and hold a practice rescue?
- What is the best way
to contact you? How would I communicate any changes to site conditions
throughout the project?
- Could other
emergencies or group training preclude you from responding, and how will that
Complying with OSHA’s new standard will protect your
workers and save you from costly penalties. Contact us today at (619) 297-3160;
we can provide you with our comprehensive resource, “Permit-required Confined
Spaces in Construction Program and Training Materials.”