We would like to ask for some advice on behalf of one of our associates:
I have a client who's employees work daily in confined spaces (CS). I have developed an emergency rescue plan in the event the operative/s inside the CS gets into difficulty; there is self rescue where the entrant gets out himself; there is rescue via winch or lanyard if practicable, and then there is rescue by other members of the team or by the site rescue team (if there is one). The method of retrieval will be based on a dynamic risk assessment undertaken by the entry supervisor. The emergency services will be called as backup.
The Management say that in an emergency situation, their employees do not enter the space under any circumstances and they just call the emergency services. I have advised them that this is not acceptable under the Confined Space regulations. The ACOP to the regulations is very clear that reliance on the emergency services alone will not be sufficient to comply with the regulations.
The company say that the policy of not entering a CS to effect a rescue is industry wide, and none of their major competitors allow rescuers into the CS. Which I do not believe.
I have explained that in the event of a serious injury due to failure of having a rescue plan that does not rely upon the emergency services, is putting their employees at serious risk, and would be unacceptable to the HSE.
Can anyone suggest the route I should take to get the management to change their policy?
You have pretty well achieved an good assessment of the legal situation. IOSH East District covered this when we did a rescue seminar recently.
It is unacceptable that a firm has no rescue plan for a confined space situation. I guess the right idea is to look at recent cases and illustrate the cosequences of failure including FFI charges should an Inspector call.
I am sure that everyone on this forum is very aware of the tragic loss of life that occurs when a confined space sentry rushes in to attempt a sole rescue (sometimes followed by other well-meaning personnel) without waiting for the proper rescue teams. This issue has eluded a solution for over 40 years.
Over the years, this has resulted in improvements to codes of practice, confined space standards, signage, training, permit to work systems et cetera. Whilst these are important and necessary, they are administrative in nature and the problem with humans is that in a traumatic situation the sentrys brain is flooded with adrenaline they are not thinking logically. They forget the training and dont read the signs!
We have designed and patented an engineering solution for this situation (as opposed to an administrative one) it has been reviewed by several practising safety managers in various industries with positive feedback in relation to its potential to save lives. However, we cannot progress this further without the help of a development partner capable of taking it to market. Our research shows that the potential market is diverse, international and substantial.
We hope that by posting this comment we may be able to locate and communicate with a suitable company who may be interested in taking this idea further
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