Yes July 7th is National Lifeguard Day and you are probably wondering why it is in a confined space blog. Well if you think about it an Attendant is very much like a lifeguard at a swimming pool. A lifeguard can look after the safety a certain number of people under specific conditions. A Confined Space Attendant also looks out for the safety of those people he is watching in a confined space.
One question I am asked on a regular bases, is how many Attendants do you need? If you follow the Lifeguard analogy, based on Standards set by the Lifesaving Society, one Attendant could look after up to thirty workers (all of which must be in view). Exceptions to the one Attendant to 30 workers rule could be:
a. When workers are out of sight, one Attendant can look after about eight workers, but they must be within voice communication distance. Use of a CCTV and duplex communication devices that can send and receive simultaneously can extend the distance the entrants are away from the guard. However the distance away should not complicate rescue (eg. IDLH situations require a three to four minute intervention time – see point “c” below).
b. If workers are in multiple spaces, looking after up to four entrants in up to two spaces providing all are visible is probably the maximum for one Attendant. Again using CCTV and duplex communication device is required in areas that the Entrants are out of view.
c. If the hazards can create an immediate life threatening injury (eg. Respiratory arrest), we limit the number of entrants to two in one space and the Attendant fulfills the Rescuer position. A relief attendant who is to take over if a rescue is needed must be no more than one minute away from the space.
Many people confuse the number of Attendants with the number of Rescuers that could be required in some circumstances. But remember, the Attendant initiates the Rescue Plan, not does it all by themselves.
So today, visit a swimming pool, thank a lifeguard for their service, watch what he does and the training they have. According to The LIfesaving Society you need 65 to 75 hours of training to become a Lifeguard. This process could help you with your confined space program. Just a thought.