FAQ: Confined space

Question:

If a rescue plan does not require entry for retrieval, do the rescuers need confined space rescue training?

Answer:

Rescuers do not need the Confined Space level 1 or 2 training because they do not enter the confined space. However, they would still need to be acutely trained on how to remove or extract the individual going into a confined space. If there is no standard in and out procedure for the job at hand, then the Confined Space Rescue Level 1 course is recommended. 

Question:

If a supplier/vendor is going into a confined space (not an employee), do we need a program/rescue plan in place?

Answer:

Yes, suppliers and vendors must be treated like any other worker entering a confined space. A rescue plan must be in place and anyone entering that space must be adequately protected. Anyone entering a confined space must have any permit requirements required from a legal perspective or owner perspective. The owner should have a confined space regimen in place before any other vendor comes on site and enters the confined space.

Question:

Have there ever been any incidents involving workers being physically unfit to be in a confined space or unfit to be under air with an SCBA?

Answer:

This is an important part of the medical assessment that is part of confined space training. As far as a confined space entry program, anyone that is going to be wearing an SCBA or harness needs to ensure they are medically and physically able to do the work. A certified medical department should assess the workers who are intended to go into the work space. It should be taken into consideration that a 250 pound plus person trying to get into space that is roughly 20 to 22 inches in diameter will have a fit issue immediately. Another consideration is the timing that is required to get a person out through the hole should an emergency take place inside of a confined space. The right to work should be taken into account but it’s extremely important to look at the workers around that person and their ability to perform a rescue if an emergency were to occur.

Question:

Is there a difference between the provincial vs. federal regulations for full body harness requirements?

Answer:

No, there is no difference. Workers need to wear a full body harness regardless of how they enter a confined space from a fall perfection perspective.

Question: is the trench below considered a confined space?  

Answer:

Yes, this application is considered a confined space because it is not meant for human occupancy and there’s no standard means of access.    

Question:

Does 3M provide confined space rescue training to workers?

Answer:

Yes, we do. You can find more information on our confined space training and other training courses on our Fall Protection Group Training website.

Question:

How important is it to label or have signs outside of a confined space?

Answer:

Certain situations are required by law to have confined space signage. From a corporate perspective, if your corporate regimen requires workers to identify confined spaces that require internal permits, it should be obvious where the confined space is. However, not all companies are knowledgeable enough to understand where this type of signage is required and where it should be applied, even if there is a legal requirement for it.

Question:

In Ontario, does a space have to be both not designed for continuous human occupancy and have the potential for atmospheric hazards to be considered a confined space? Or does just one of the above criteria render an area as a confined space?

Answer:

Both criteria need to be met in order for an area to be considered a confined space. However, this does not mean that both criteria on their own are not legitimate safety concerns. For example, a worker might be in an area that was designed for continuous human occupancy but has high exposure levels to certain types of chemicals.

Question:

Would an 8' deep sump pit that is 3.5' wide in the basement of an office building be considered a confined space?

Answer:

Yes, because it meets the two criteria required for an area to be considered a confined space (it’s not designed for continuous human occupancy and is potentially a hazardous atmosphere).

Question:

What is the difference between using a tripod vs. davit arm for confined space entry and retrieval?

Answer:

While both are considered anchorages for a confined space entry and retrieval, a tripod is limited to an entry hole that is smaller than its footprint, which is typically five-to-six feet. A davit arm has the ability to expand in width to cover a larger opening such as a pumping station vault or any other opening that is rectangular in shape. A davit arm also allows the opportunity to install permanent bases at strategic entry locations, which allows for a faster set up and ease of use, where a tripod will require a full assembly at each entry site.

Question:

When should a 3 Way self-retracting lifeline (SRL) be used vs. a winch in a confined space entry and retrieval situation?

Answer:

An SRL with retrieval (3 way) is designed to be used for fall protection while entering and exiting a confined space. The emergency winch option is only to be used for the extraction of a worker in an emergency situation. The emergency winch is not designed to be used on a regular basis as a means of entering a confined space. If access is not available and a winch is the best option, then an advanced or digital winch is the ideal choice.

Question:

When would a worker utilize a Y-Lanyard with spreader bar and shoulder D-Rings rather than using the back D-Ring of a harness?  

Answer:

A Y-Lanyard attached to a worker’s shoulder D-Rings are used in conjunction with a manual winch for either rescue in the case of an emergency or entry and exit from a confined space where there is no other means of access, such as a built-in ladder or the addition of a portable ladder. If this set up is designed for rescue, it allows the rescuer to extricate the worker in a more upright position. This is important if the entry hole is of a small dimension. When using shoulder D-Rings and Y-Lanyards, it’s important to keep in mind that a form of fall protection attached to the dorsal D-Ring of the harness is still required. Manual winches are not fall protection rated.

If the entry dimension is large enough to easily extricate a worker and there is a means of access available, then an SRL with Retrieval that is attached directly to the worker’s dorsal D-Ring can be used. The SRL with Retrieval will be suitable for fall protection and the retrieval option can be used for rescue.

Question:

Can two workers be on the same davit arm or tripod?

Answer:

A davit arm or tripod entry system each have the capability to attach two separate systems provided that you have the required additional mounting brackets. However, the system is only designed to accommodate one worker at a time. This means that worker A will need to enter the space and be off the system before worker B can enter. The same is true in the case of rescue where you would need to extract the first worker followed by the second.

Question:

Does a worker need to always be attached to a rescue system while working in the confined space?

Answer:

While it is always best to remain attached to a rescue system while in a confined space, practicality doesn’t always allow it. If a worker cannot perform the work while being attached, they can disconnect from the system. However, your rescue plan may have to be amended to accommodate this.

Question:

Does the top side attendant need to be tied off?

Answer:

Yes. The attendant should be tied off using a fall protection system while near the entry.

Question:

Are all confined space rescues considered non-entry rescues?

Answer:

While it is certainly preferred that a confined space rescue plan be a non-entry rescue, it is often not feasible. Each entry must be evaluated and then determined whether a non-entry rescue is possible or if a more detailed plan should be put into place. This evaluation needs to be done before entry in the confined space occurs.

Looking for more answers to your confined space questions? Contact one of our experts below.

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