A well-prepared and trained team is the backbone of successful confined space rescues. We discuss the three most essential elements of effective confined space rescue capabilities at your workspace. Ensure they are implemented, and you will know how to act in case of an emergency.
1 Knowledge base
Before developing action steps, practicing them, and preparing for a potentially hazardous situation, you need to build your knowledge base.
- Understanding what a confined space is – In theory, any workplace can be potentially hazardous if no risk management is set in place. For example, if the wet is slippery, risk mitigation is to put a sign that cautions employees. At the same time, a confined space is specific as it usually has the same entry and exit point, making it a difficult and dangerous space if you’re not prepared for it. That’s why each country defines rules and regulations for what a confined space is.
- Assessment – The first step to building a required knowledge base is to know what a confined space defines and the rules and regulations in your country. Secondly, you must comprehensively assess any potential hazards of a confined space before you even start working in it. All work conditions have to be analyzed and assessed as the atmospheric conditions and equipment requirements and implement any or all control measures to minimize risks successfully.
- Skill and practice – The proper knowledge and experience is the key to knowing which team member is the right person for this particular job. If a person is not adequately trained and skilled, or they still have to go through confined space training and drills, they are not adequately knowledgeable to go in.
Now that you’ve built your knowledge base, it’s time to take the second step and plan it all out.
- Write a rescue plan – A rescue plan is necessary and will prepare your team for a worst-case scenario. Safety rules and regulations also require a rescue plan, so this step is mandatory. Not having one will put you in a more complex situation, as you won’t be prepared. Such a rescue plan covers roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols in a confined space emergency. Once you write one, you must revise it regularly and ensure the document and people are up to date with the revisions of the rescue plan.
- Training and competency – Since these rescue plans must be up to a specific industry standard, you also need to ensure that people within your team have the proper competence levels. This is where you need to invest in your team and provide them with adequate training. Let’s take Australia as an example. They have strict rules and regulations, so they hire confined space training Newcastle professionals to ensure the team has the proper training and competency to act in possible risky situations.
- Procurement of necessary rescue equipment – The plan won’t work without the right equipment. The team you hire for confined space training will also suggest the necessary equipment and teach you how to use it. Harness, gas detectors, hoists, oxygen masks, and many others will be on this list. Once you acquire them, you must inspect them at specific intervals to know if they work.
- Clear communication – Even though we all communicate daily, it doesn’t mean people will know how to communicate in a risky situation. Set up a standard for communication within the rescue team – Implement alarm systems to alert workers and responders of emergencies. Also, establish a transparent system of communication with external emergency services.
The last and final point is the execution – what to do and how to act in case of a confined space emergency.
- Pre-Entry procedures – Every confined space has to be analyzed before entry. Next, systems for monitoring atmospheric conditions have to be implemented to ensure the correct levels of safety. Lastly, ensure a specific entry and exit plan is issued for specific, confined spaces, as they are all different.
- Appointment of a rescue team – A rescue mission needs a rescue team. Appoint a rescue team by assigning clear and specific roles. Implement the rules for continuous monitoring and communication during entry. Also, implement regular drills of rescue procedures, including non-entry rescue techniques.
- Post-Rescue Evaluation and Improvement – Every rescue mission has to be analyzed, reviewed and evaluated. This will reveal areas for improvement in the rescue plan and execution. Also, implement regular reviews and adaptation of procedures based on real-world experiences
These three key areas will help your workplace develop and maintain a highly effective confined space rescue capability. The safety and well-being of all employees are your top priority, so ensure these key elements are implemented.