Did you know that most serious accidents and fatalities occurring in confined spaces are related to oxygen deficiency or due to the presence of toxic or flammable gases?
Unfortunately, it is estimated that 60% of fatal accidents are caused by people who attempt to perform a confined space rescue without the necessary knowledge or equipment.
This shows that you should never improvise as a rescuer in confined spaces, no matter the situation.
First, even though confined space rescue planning is essential, we believe that the solution to minimize the risk of confined space accidents is to invest more in safe entrances.
If confined space entry procedures are optimal, the chances of having to perform a rescue are low. It should also be noted that most confined space entries do not require a very elaborate rescue plan. Therefore, it is important to focus on the more complex situations and, more importantly, to validate their entry and rescue plan.
Another way to reduce risks in confined spaces is to prioritize remote rescue and to have the right equipment on hand," explains Fabien Demers, senior advisor and trainer specialized in confined spaces at SPI Health and Safety.
When entries are well planned, it is sometimes possible to perform confined space rescues without even entering the area. This is a simple, quick, and much safer method. To do this, a risk analysis is essential, as well as appropriate rescue equipment and adequate training.
When and why use a confined space recovery system?
As we know, working in confined spaces presents many potential risks for workers and before entering them, it is important to recognize the related dangers and the tools used to prevent them.
One of these tools is the confined space recovery system (Kosto product: CTK002) which is a reliable piece of equipment to ensure worker safety. It allows access in areas where it is not easy to enter or exit, either due to a lack of ladders or solid steps.
The kit includes a 7-foot tripod with safety chains and a 50-foot self-retracting lifeline with a crank (CDK360-R). This is an economical way to do confined space entries and rescues, as the tripod is fairly light, so it is easily carried, convenient, and easy to set up.
The tripod can go on a manhole that must be circular and have a maximum circumference of about 4 feet. For example, a municipal manhole (public works) is perfect for this type of equipment. The legs must be installed on a solid surface before using the equipment.
The retractable lifeline is then connected to the tripod and attached to the worker to ensure the safety of the individual in the event of a fall (and therefore, make a safe stop) with the deployment of the recovery crank. It is simple to perform a rescue by ascending or descending the individual to a safe location.
It is also possible to add a winch (CTK060) that can be used as an elevator if there are no other means to move material or position a worker in a confined space.
For example, a worker must perform work in a silo, which is a confined space. There is no ladder to access the inside of the silo. The winch can then suspend the worker and move him inside the silo, from top to bottom. The winch can also hold the worker's position to allow him to do some work.
In all cases, it is crucial to use the pulleys, hooks, and connectors according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Here are some interesting facts about confined spaces rescue:
- The average turnaround time for a confined space vertical rescue performed in hazardous atmospheric conditions is generally two hours.
- It is possible to develop rescue procedures according to the confined spaces category or type. The types of rescues can vary depending on the opening (round, oval, or square) and the entry (no entrance, lateral, vertical, or horizontal).
- It is possible to perform a confined space rescue with a reduced team (2 to 4 persons) if the procedures are developed and validated and all operational aspects are implemented (equipment, planning, etc.)
- It is recommended to eliminate traditional ropes as much as possible for industrial rescue. We favor an approach that uses mechanical means. Rescues will be quicker, simpler, and more efficient.
- A company doesn't need to have its rescue squad in a traditional form. A rescue support team may be sufficient if a relationship is established with qualified municipal services that can respond rapidly.
- In terms of security, it is beneficial for every company that does not have a rescue squad to develop a partnership with municipal services, including for validation and testing of rescue procedures.
Source: Fabien Demers, Senior Advisor and Trainer, Confined Spaces, Consulting Services, SPI Health and Safety