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January 10, 2018
Refresh your confined space response with these 7 steps

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.

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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