Confined Space Rescue Training
According to OSHA, a confined space is a space that is large enough to physically enter, but is not intended for human occupancy and has limited entry or egress. Because of the dangers of confined space rescue, confined space rescue training is one of the more demanding disciplines of technical rescue. Confined spaces can be found in various different industries in the workplace and on farms. Even trenches can be considered confined spaces. Sadly, it used to be that 60% of all confined space deaths were attributed to would-be rescuers. This means that more people were getting killed trying to rescue someone in trouble than the actual workers who got into trouble in the first place. Oftentimes these would-be rescuers included coworkers sometimes firefighters. However, due to heightened confined space awareness over the years and the increase of confined space rescue training courses available, the number of fatalities due to confined space scenarios has fortunately gone down. The effectiveness of confined space rescue training has been proven, so you have no reason to neglect it.
Confined space rescue training is made much easier and more organized by using the essential technical rescue field operations guide. The confined space section begins with a command checklist which helps rescuers note important steps at the beginning of the confined space rescue process. The same section also includes critical OSHA definitions and acceptable conditions upon entry. This is all situated within a confined space entry safety checklist. The importance of this checklist cannot be underscored enough! It allows the team leader to remember every single important facet of the confined space entry before rescuers begin entering the space. Not only does the checklist help team leaders and workers better follow correct confined space procedures, but it also builds memory and promotes good habits among workers.
It is important that any and every worker who enters a confined space has received the appropriate training and hands on experience. More specifically, they should be trained on the following:
- Recognition and identification of possible hazards related to confined spaces that will have to be entered.
- Evaluation and control procedures for these recognized potential threats.
- Setup, use, and restrictions of any and all equipment used in the confined space rescue process. This includes emergency equipment, ventilation equipment such as blowers, hazardous energy control, isolation and lockout equipment, and air quality monitors such as oxygen or combustible meters.
- Setup, use, and restrictions of all personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators and full body harnesses, that could possibly be used within the confined space.
- Every single safe work practice and procedure for entering confined spaces as stated in the employer’s Confined Space Hazard Assessment Program.
- Which procedures to follow in the event of a scenario occurring that could increase the risk to the worker or the overall situation.
- What specific work needs to be done while in the confined space.
- How to work in a manner that will not endanger any fellow workers’ lives.
Employers should make it a habit to document all confined spaces training. This should also include refresher courses. Workers who have extra emergency rescue responsibilities will need additional specialized training. For everyone else, confined space rescue training should be absolutely imperative before working in any confined spaces. Remember, a majority of fatalities before confined space training became prevalent were to would-be rescuers, not the actual workers who initially got into trouble. So to reduce and prevent injuries and fatalities relating to confined space entry, the proper training and hands on experience is absolutely essential. Don’t try to be the hero and rescue someone in a confined space without training; you will only become another victim. Take the confined rescue training course and you can approach situations like these with utmost confidence and possibly even save someone’s life.