Everything You Need to Know About Confined Space Rescue and Safety

Confined entry spaces like vaults, tanks, storage bins, vessels, and silos present unique hazards, including falls, asphyxiation, and entanglements. Therefore, these spaces require special planning and preparation to prevent harm to anyone who enters them.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), about 2.1M workers enter permit-confined spaces every year. Confined space incidents result in approximately 100 deaths per year. Out of 100 the deaths investigated by NIOSH, only 15% of the employees had any confined space training.

The main reason workers enter the confined space space is to perform routine maintenance. The most common hazards include atmospheric hazards and loose materials.

Do You Need a Confined Space Rescue Team?

Depending on particular aspects of the confined space, OSHA requires you to have either a standby or on-site rescue team available. 

If an employee is working in any area that OSHA defines as a confined space, a standby rescue team is required. OSHA standards (29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA) define a confined space as one that has all three of these characteristics:

  • It is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work;
  • It is not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee; and
  • It has limited or restricted means of entry or exit.


A permit-required confined space meets the above requirements but additionally includes one or more of the following, and requires an on-site rescue team:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
  • Contains a material with the potential to engulf someone who enters the space;
  • Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section;
  • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards.


Learn more about when you need a confined space rescue team

Overcome Your Confined Space Safety Challenges

More than 50% of confined space deaths are would-be rescuers. Rescue attempts led by inexperienced or untrained crews can easily turn into multiple fatalities.

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What Does a Confined Space Rescue Team Do?

A confined space rescue team provides critical rescue services during work in a permit-required confined space. A confined space rescue team, which typically includes attendants, rescuers, and an entrant supervisor, provides critical risk mitigation and ready rescue services during work in a confined space.  The team will evaluate a site before work commences, create rescue and contingency plans, and monitor job progress in case of an emergency.

Confined space rescue teams are trained to calculate response and rescue times, practice the necessary rescue procedures, and execute rescues when an emergency occurs. Duties for specific team members include:

  • Evaluate the site before work commences.
  • Create rescue and contingency plans.
  • Calculate response and rescue times.
  • Monitor job progress in case of an emergency.
  • Practice the necessary rescue procedures.
  • Execute the procedures in the event an emergency occurs.

Learn more about the Difference Effective Confined Space Rescue Services Make.

What Are the Different Types of Confined Space Rescue Services?

Depending on the site and project, you may need a specific type of rescue service.  Some of the more specific types of rescue services include:

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How Much Do Confined Space Rescue Teams Cost?

As with many safety-related processes, employing a CSR team at your worksite can have variable costs. Primary factors include the number of people necessary (teams commonly range from 2-4 people), how long the team is required, and what equipment is necessary.

Safety frequently gets treated as “lowest-bid-wins,” but this is a literally dangerous approach when it comes to confined space rescue. Lives are on the line, so vet your CSR crews for experience and expertise.

Also, always be aware of what you’re getting for the price you were quoted. In many cases, a quote only includes the man hours, and companies will add on equipment rental charges after arriving to the site. SITEX always offers all-inclusive pricing, so any equipment on the rig is included regardless of what the job calls for.

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Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Local Emergency Services as Your Confined Space Rescue Plan

Many companies rely on 911 and local emergency responders as their confined space rescue plan. OSHA does make it possible to utilize local emergency crews as a compliant confined space rescue plan, but it’s worth noting how difficult it is to satisfy all the requirements – it’s a practical impossibility in most cases.

An employer relying on local emergency services to satisfy OSHA standards must meet three primary requirements:

  • Ensure the responder can arrive at the site in a timely manner (usually only a few minutes);
  • Ensure the responder has the appropriate training and equipment to enter the specific confined space;
  • Ensure the responder has proficiency in the needed rescue services.

In most cases, OSHA has established 3-6 minutes as an appropriate response time, so you can see why it’s so challenging to meet the standards for using 911 services as a confined space rescue plan. For even more explanation on the shortcomings of using local emergency services as your CSR plan, read our blog Why 911 Can’t Be Your Confined Space Rescue Plan

two confined rescue workers on the job site working

There is No Substitute for a Dedicated Confined Space Rescue Team

Many companies rely on local emergency services for assistance.  OSHA has stated that not all emergency responders are trained or equipped to conduct confined space rescues.

OSHA has set up useful guidelines for employers and emergency service providers to follow for confined space rescue. Guidelines aren’t a substitute for a trained confined space rescue team.

With an experienced rescue team, you’ll know that your confined space entrants are protected.. SITEX’s confined space rescue technicians are experienced professionals. They have the training needed to provide a safe environment for workers.

Remember, just because a rescue team can be part of your team or a local emergency response team, doesn’t mean they should be given the circumstances.

SITEX Delivers Expert Confined Space Rescue Services

SITEX has deep industry experience. We ensure safety compliance and reduce risk for our clients. We protect workers with certified experts, proven solutions, training, and the right equipment for any job in any industry.

Having the right personnel at the right place at the right time is what SITEX safety rescue services are all about. Our teams have the expertise to pre-plan space entry and the experience to oversee potentially dangerous workplace tasks.

SITEX provides the personnel and equipment that it takes to mitigate the risks posed by confined spaces, and by using SITEX as a third-party confined space rescue partner, you limit and share your liability for any incidents.

SITEX On-Site Rescue Services Include:

  • Rescue team staffing for any rescue job, 2-10 person teams
  • Confined space & high-angle technician
  • Minimum medical training in first aid, CPR & AED (EMTs available)
  • Full-time, experienced rescue professionals
  • Evaluation, pre-planning, and pre-rigging for each job
  • Confined Space Assessment and Rescue Plans
  • Complete inventory and classification of all confined spaces within your facility
  • Compliance with OSHA 1910.146 requirements
  • Pre-planning the most effective and efficient means of rescue in case of emergency


These team members are authorized to enter confined spaces to perform rescue procedures. They know the hazards associated with the job. They are able to recognize signs of exposure and operate safely in hazardous environments.


A confined space attendant is an individual that remains outside the confined space to monitor the employee within, guard against others entering the space without authorization, and calls in a rescue if necessary. An attendant keeps track of potential hazards, and is also responsible for record-keeping regarding confined space activities.


Supervisors represent the employer at the confined space. They have the same training as rescuers and rescue attendants. They know the hazards involved. They are responsible for validating safe entry conditions and verifying emergency plans. Tank entry supervisors have specific training relevant to the hazards posed by those environments. They are especially crucial for reducing risk and improving safety when tank entry is required.