When discussing confined space or other types of technical rescue, the question of applying OSHA standards to these operations often comes up. This is one of many questions we tackle in our Confined Space Rescue Team Leader classes .
When it comes to the OSHA confined space standard, the rescue section (paragraph K) focuses on the employer's obligation to provide rescue. Appendix F <<https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.146AppF>> lists issues the employer needs to consider to ensure that the rescue capability can actually perform if needed.
But the question of how you actually conduct a rescue - how you move a patient from a hazardous location to a place of safety - is not addressed.
So what standards apply? NFPA, ANSI, ISO? They all provide guidance on some aspects of planning, organization, or equipment design and use. But, again, they don't tell us specific steps we need to take, mainly because of the dynamic nature of these activities and the wide variety of locations these activities take place in. A rescue technique that works well in one situation can result in serious hazards if applied somewhere else.
So how do rescuers know what steps to take and when to take them? We learn from each other. Or more accurately, we learn by studying the mistakes or close calls that others may have encountered. We analyze those situations and we develop processes and procedures to help ensure our team avoids them. That information, in turn, is shared with others either in formal training, during conferences, or in articles and books.
So training companies like D2000 Safety may have proprietary methods of teaching those skills and abilities, but everyone in the emergency response communities agrees on what those skills and abilities consist of and how they are assessed.
So can we just blow by OSHA requirements? No, because rescuers are still employees and we must fulfill our obligations to not expose employees to hazards. This is why the primary goal of any rescue effort is to ensure the safety of the rescuers. Once that is done the team can begin to perform their rescue duties. In addition, OSHA standards regarding topics like fall protection can often provide guidance on ways of protecting rescuers working at height.
But any and all decisions regarding the actions of the team and resulting exposures need to be made by a trained team leader - someone who understands all the grey areas and can implement the rescue procedures to ensure everyone's safety.