This guideline describes specialized rescue services in industry and identifies the lack of municipal fire/rescue departments that have developed adequate high angle rescue capability using techniques and equipment acceptable to the situation.
Rescue of a worker at a high elevation can be effectively done in a variety of ways, depending on the circumstances at the workplace. For example, on a construction site, the personnel hoist may be used, or a "dedicated emergency platform" (DEP) hoisted by a tower or mobile crane may be used to remove an injured worker. Some work activities, for example tower work or vessels, swing stage work and tower crane operation result in a need for high angle rescue capability to rescue or remove a stranded or injured worker.
An employer may develop its own high angle rescue capability, and this requires specialized equipment and training and practice. As an alternative, for a workplace located in an area serviced by a fire/rescue department, and where the local department has high angle rescue capabilities, the employer may be able to arrange for the local fire department to provide rescue services for the employer's operation. Otherwise, there are services that specialize in these rescue situations that can be made available for such operations that have a need for high angle rescue capability.
Municipal fire/rescue departments with high angle rescue capability
There are municipal fire/rescue departments that have developed high angle (rope) rescue capability using techniques and equipment acceptable to OSHA Standards for workplace rescue. If a workplace is located outside the service area of a municipal fire/rescue department providing high angle rescue service, the employer has to provide for any necessary high angle rescue requirements by other acceptable means.
If an employer wants to use the local municipal fire/rescue department as a high angle (rope) rescue service provider, the employer must notify the department in advance, and ensure the department is capable and prepared to provide the required services.
If the employer's activity is a transient activity such as window cleaning or other work using suspended staging, the employer may be obligated to give notice to the fire department.
For workplaces with a longer term need for rescue capability to be available, particularly where site conditions are regularly changing such as at a high-rise construction project, a more formal written agreement needs to be established between the employer and the fire department. A copy of the notice form or other written agreement must be available at the workplace.
The fire/rescue department may (1) visit the workplace to determine site suitability for rescue purposes (2) request additional and reasonable provisions to assist rescue capabilities (3) refuse to enter into an agreement to provide rescue services if all reasonable requirements are not fulfilled
Confined space rescue
The local fire/rescue department cannot be the primary provider of rope rescue services involving a confined space entry unless the department is trained and equipped to do this type of rescue. The Regulation requires confined space rescue workers be "adequately trained". Many fire departments are not trained to perform a complex confined space rescue, especially one requiring rope rescue with SCBA equipment.
Also, the response time for a fire department rescue team will have to be taken into consideration for confined space situations. Merely posting the service's number or planning to rely on the 911 emergency phone number to obtain these services at the time of a permit space emergency would not comply with the standard.