Confined spaces rescue

Confined spaces rescue

2/25/2013 - SPI

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? However, it is estimated that 60% of fatal accident victims are persons who attempted a rescue without the proper knowledge or necessary equipment for this type of intervention. In any case, regardless of the situation, not everyone can become a rescuer!

First, even if a rescue plan is essential, at SPI Health and Safety, we believe the solution to reduce the risks of accidents in confined spaces as much as possible is to invest more in safe confined space entries instead of focusing only on rescues. Provided that the entrance procedure is optimized, the chances to conduct a rescue are low. It is also important to note that most confined spaces entries do not require a sophisticated plan. Therefore, it is important to focus on more complex situations and validate them.

"Another way to reduce the confined space risks is to prioritize a non-entry rescue", explains Fabien Demers, senior advisor and trainer, specialized in confined spaces at SPI Health and Safety.

When entries are well planned, non-entry rescues are sometimes possible. This method is simple, quick and much safer. In order to do this, a confined space risk assessment is imperative as well as using the appropriate rescue equipment and training.

Here are some interesting facts about confined spaces rescue: 

  • The average turnaround time for a confined spaces 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).
  • There are standards for the training of industrial firefighters (e.g. NFPA in the United States).
  • It is possible to perform a confined spaces 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 favour an approach that uses mechanical means. Rescues will be quicker, simpler and more efficient.
  • It is not absolutely necessary for a company to have its own rescue squad in a traditional form. A rescue support team may be sufficient if a relationship is established with qualified municipal services that are able to 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.

For more information on our services regarding confined spaces management and rescue, visit our Website or contact our consulting services team at SPI Health and Safety.

Reference: Fabien Demers, senior advisor and trainer, specialized in confined spaces, Consulting Services, SPI Health and Safety