Afacility’s state of readiness to rescue potential victims from confined spaces is an
essential but often overlooked
element of an effective Confined
Space Program. Routinely, most
facilities funnel most of their effort into the activities associated
with the inventorying, assessing,
labeling, and permitting of confined spaces. The safety and risk
reduction efforts for confined
spaces are focused on redesign,
safe work practices, and hazard
control measures, which are appropriately directed towards the
reclassification of permit required
confined spaces (PRCS) to non-permit required confined spaces
(NPRCS). The process of reclassify-ing a confined space from a PRCS
to a NPRCS relaxes the arduous
rescue preparation requirements
of OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.146(k)
standard and allows facilities to
simply ensure that adequate emergency services are available consistent with the needs for other
Ultimately it is up to each employer to
establish an emergency rescue team, either on-site or off-site, that is equipped
and capable of minimizing harm to both
entrants and rescuers of confined spaces
of any classification in the event of an
emergency. The three basic options for
confined space rescue (CSR) services that
are employed by most facilities with either PRCS or NPRCS include:
• Offsite: local fire department
(municipal) CSR team
• Onsite: in-house CSR team
• Offsite/Onsite: contract stand-by
time and internal capabilities/resources.
Internal rescue teams continually strug-
gle with sufficiently staffing teams for
all shifts and the ongoing costs of CSR
equipment and training/drills. Contract
CSR services are difficult to coordinate
with PRCS entries and costly to have in
place for all NPRCS entries.
Appendix F. So now it is your turn to
perform a confined space rescue check-up of the readiness of the CSR service
option you are currently using.
OSHA provides Appendix F (
nonmandatory) of 29 CFR 1910.146 as guidance in choosing and evaluating the
capabilities of both prospective and current rescue teams. The following list of
questions provides a condensed selection
of the guidance provided by OSHA in
Rescue Team or Rescue Service
; Has the CSR service been identified,
contacted, and provided with site
PRCS and NPRCS information?
; Can the CSR service meet the facility’s
response time needs (time for the rescue service to receive notification, arrive at the scene, and set up and be
ready for entry)?
; Does the CSR service meet all of the
following requirements for:
• CSR PPE?
• CSRT training?
• CSR Team FA/CPR training?
• Annual PRCS rescue drills of typical rescue operations from representative permit spaces?
; Does an adequate method for CSR
service communications exist?
; What is the CSR service response
; Does the CSR service have an ample
supply of confined space rescue and
retrieval equipment including equipment to enter and exit IDLH-atmos-phere spaces?
; Is the CSR service equipped to perform
retrieval and entry rescues for spaces
with vertical entry over 5 feet?
; Can the CSR service retrieve victims
from a space that has a limited size
opening (less than 24 inches in diam-
eter), limited internal space, or inter-
All of these confined space rescue
service options present their own chal-
lenges. Many of the municipal CSR serv-
ices have been confronted with budget
cuts, layoffs, and reduced training allot-
ments that may affect their response
OSHA Requirements for Confined Space Emergency Rescue
OSHA requires employers to establish an emergency
rescue team or utilize outside services and ensure that
rescue team members:
• be capable of reaching the victim within an appropri-
ate time frame
• be trained in the use of PPE and rescue equipment
• practice confined space rescue at least yearly
• be trained in first aid and CPR