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15. On-Site Rescue Procedures and Equipment | Confined Spaces Guideline

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE SEE FULL DISCLAIMER

Section 11 - Confined Spaces Regulation (O. Reg. 632/05)

  • (1)  The employer shall ensure that no worker enters or remains in a confined space unless, in accordance with the relevant plan, adequate written on-site rescue procedures that apply to the confined space have been developed and are ready for immediate implementation.
  • (2)  Before a worker enters a confined space, the employer shall ensure that an adequate number of persons trained in the matters listed in subsection (3) are available for immediate implementation of the on-site rescue procedures mentioned in subsection (1).
  • (3)  The persons shall be trained in,
    • (a)  the on-site rescue procedures mentioned in subsection (1);
    • (b)  first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation; and
    • (c)  the use of the rescue equipment required in accordance with the relevant plan.

Section 12 - Confined Spaces Regulation (O. Reg. 632/05)

  • (1)  The employer shall ensure that the rescue equipment identified in the relevant plan is,
    • (a)  readily available to effect a rescue in the confined space;
    • (b)  appropriate for entry into the confined space; and
    • (c)  inspected as often as is necessary to ensure it is in good working order, by a person with adequate knowledge, training and experience who is appointed by the employer.
  • (2)  The inspection under clause (1) (c) shall be recorded in writing by the person, and the record of the inspection may be incorporated into the entry permit under section 10].
  • (3)  The employer shall establish methods of communication that are appropriate for the hazards identified in the relevant assessment, and shall make them readily available for workers to communicate with the attendant described in section 15.

An employer has made a decision to treat certain spaces that do not meet the confined space definition in the same way as required for confined spaces. Will the MOL enforce the on-site rescue requirements in this situation?

Ministry inspectors enforce the provisions of the OHSA and its regulations, not company policies. If a space does not meet the definition of a confined space in the Regulation, it would not be subject to the confined space requirements contained within it, including the on-site rescue provisions. Employers would still need to comply with relevant regulatory requirements, where applicable, and take every precaution reasonable in the circumstance to protect workers working on, in, or near these spaces.

May we contract out rescue services?

Yes. However, depending upon the hazard assessment and risks involved, this might not be an adequate rescue plan. The hazards must be assessed and an adequate timely response must be ensured based on the potential hazard facing a worker. For example, in the event that workers are in danger in the confined space, a timely emergency removal system would be the difference in minutes that make it a rescue rather than retrieval. Rescue personnel must be available for immediate implementation of the on-site rescue procedures.

If choosing to contract out, the employer retains the duty to ensure training of the contracted rescue personnel and the appropriate use of personal protection continues.

What rescue equipment can we use?

The equipment to use will be dependent upon the hazards in the confined space, and the relevant plan. Examples of safety equipment include harnesses and lifelines, hoist/retrieval systems, self-contained breathing apparatus, airline respirators, and other personal protective equipment. It is of paramount importance when choosing the equipment to be used in a rescue situation, to take into account the dimensions of the entry/exit points to the confined space, that they should be compatible with the dimensions of the rescue equipment and rescue procedures.

What does “immediate implementation” of on-site rescue procedures mean?

The employer is responsible for developing a plan and ensuring that an adequate number of persons trained in certain rescue matters are available for immediate implementation of the on-site rescue procedures, before a worker enters a confined space. The plan, including the on-site rescue procedures, is based on the nature of the hazards identified during the assessment of that confined space and must adequately protect the health and safety of all workers who work in confined spaces or perform related work. The plan will indicate whether the “on-site rescue team” should be assembled at the point of entry of the confined space or whether team members may be located elsewhere on the premise or project. In either case the team must be immediately available, meaning that it is ready and available to respond to an emergency situation at a confined space.

The on-site rescue procedures required for a space is independent of whether multiple entries will occur. Thus, changes to what was originally considered as adequate on-site rescue procedures for a space, in order to fulfill multiple simultaneous entries, may no longer be adequate. For example, if one team was in the process of implementing on-site rescue procedures for one space, they are no longer available for immediate implementation of on-site rescue procedures at another confined space. In these cases, a rescue plan should also include mechanisms for notifying the attendant that evacuation of that space will be undertaken until on-site rescue procedures can be implemented immediately again, i.e. , when the rescue team is immediately available to respond.

Where do rescue personnel have to be located?

Rescue personnel must be available and ready to immediately implement the written on-site rescue procedures should a rescue be required as per the plan.

May we use 911 emergency services as our "on-site rescue"?

No, calling 911 as your rescue plan is not considered to be an "on-site rescue procedure" which can be "ready for immediate implementation" for the purpose of rescuing a worker from a confined space. Emergency services do not replace the requirement for on-site rescue procedures.

Employers remain solely responsible for ensuring that there are adequate on-site rescue procedures that are ready for immediate implementation in order to effectively remove a worker who has been overcome in a confined space.

May the rescue team enter the confined space to effect a rescue rather than retrieve the injured worker from outside of the confined space?

Yes. The confined space entry plan must be provided with on-site rescue procedures as determined by the hazards for that confined space. In some cases, these may have to be performed from outside the space; however, in some other scenarios the rescue personnel may need to enter the space. If entry is required to perform a rescue, rescue personnel must be properly protected and trained against all hazards within the confined space.

May the attendant become part of the rescue team once a rescue has been activated?

No, not unless the attendant has been replaced by another person knowledgeable in attendant duties. During a rescue, an attendant must remain in place stationed outside and near the entrance to the confined space. The attendant may assist the rescue as long as the work does not impede the attendant's duties.

What training do on-site rescue workers require?

In addition to general confined space training, etc., the employer must ensure that an adequate number of on-site rescue workers have the following training:

  • First aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation;
  • On-site rescue procedures in accordance with the relevant plan; and
  • Use of the rescue equipment required by the relevant plan.

Not all members of the team need to have all three elements of training so long as the team as a whole has the adequate training. The amount of training required by each individual member of the team will depend on the particular situation and plan.

What level of first aid training and rescue procedure training is required?

The regulation does not define the level of training required. However employers are required to determine the level of training required based on the assessment and the relevant plan and the written on-site rescue procedures.

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