OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 5 Confined Spaces

Section 55 Emergency response

Before work in a confined or restricted space is allowed, the employer must have an effective emergency response plan in place. In the event of an emergency, workers must be able to carry out an effective rescue and workers must be able to immediately evacuate a confined or restricted space if conditions warrant.

Comments on the use of 911 for rescue

In the case of rescues involving workers in confined spaces and workers suspended in the air after a fall, calling 911 alone and awaiting the arrival of rescue services personnel is considered to be an insufficient emergency response. The employer must have some basic level of on-site rescue capability see this section for confined spaces and section 140 for fall protection – in the event that rescue services personnel are delayed or unable to attend the scene.

In some situations, rescue services personnel may not have the equipment or skills to perform a rescue e.g. a worker in a confined space deep below ground level in a horizontal tunnelling operation or a worker suspended 100 metres above ground level following the failure of a swingstage scaffold. In such cases, the employer’s on-site rescue capability must be such that the work site is virtually self-sufficient in returning a rescued worker to the surface or ground level.