If your employees work in conditions that can be immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH), you must take time to identify and evaluate the proper emergency rescue equipment. If you have an IDLH exposure, make sure to involve your employees in the evaluation and equipment selection process.

Some of the more common examples of an IDLH exposure are the potential for a fall from heights and confined space hazards (oxygen deficiency, engulfment hazards, limited access, and egress).

Equally important to the provision of emergency rescue equipment is your development of an emergency rescue plan, including initial and ongoing training. Although there is not a one-size-fits-all formula to identify what types of emergency rescue equipment is needed, there are basic guidelines to follow when making your initial evaluation.

What Does the Law Require?

According to Cal/OSHA’s construction safety order 1541(g)(A):

  • “Emergency rescue equipment, such as breathing apparatus, a safety harness and line, or a basket stretcher, shall be readily available where hazardous atmospheric conditions exist or may reasonably be expected to develop during work in an excavation.”
  • “When controls are used that are intended to reduce the level of atmospheric contaminants to acceptable levels, testing shall be conducted as often as necessary to ensure that the atmosphere remains safe.”
  • “Adequate precaution shall be taken such as providing ventilation, to prevent employee exposure to an atmosphere containing a concentration of a flammable gas in excess of 20 percent of the lower flammable limit of the gas.”

Evaluate Your Facility

All too often, employers make the mistake of using 911 as the focus of their emergency plan. In many circumstances calling 911 is suitable, however there may be instances where emergency personnel are not equipped to safely attempt to perform an emergency rescue. Emergency responders are trained not to attempt a rescue unless they can proceed with their efforts in a reasonably safe manner. Take the time to consult directly with your local emergency response providers (fire and police). Invite them out to your facility or jobsite to determine if they have the capabilities to perform an emergency rescue.

If after evaluating your facility or jobsite you determine that emergency rescue equipment should be provided, involve your employees in the equipment selection process. It is imperative to train all exposed employees in the proper use and maintenance of your emergency equipment, as well as the emergency policies and procedures that your company has established.

The crucial element in this entire process is taking the time to complete a thorough evaluation of your facility or jobsite to determine if, and to what extent, an IDLH exposure exists. Make saving lives a team effort with your employees.

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The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.

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