Direct emergency rescue and recovery of casualties from confined spaces

Business Sectors (Suites): Confined Spaces
Developed by: Energy & Utility Skills
Approved on: 30 Mar 2020


This standard is about directing a team for rescue and recovery of casualties from confined spaces.  Own entry is not required.  A confined space is any place, including any chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, well or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk.  Risks could lead to serious injury or death through fire, explosion, gas, fumes, vapour, lack of oxygen, rising levels of liquid, asphyxiation  or entrapment by free flowing solids. 

An emergency team will need to be available when the risk assessment for a confined space determines that it is necessary.   An emergency team is a dedicated team and may be an in-house team, specialist contractors or the emergency services by prior arrangement.  

This standard includes planning and preparing for emergency operations, mobilising rescue teams when emergencies arise, directing and monitoring emergency rescue activities, and reporting and securing sites after incidents and emergencies.

This standard is for anyone such as an engineer, coordinator, top man or supervisor who directs the activities of a team for rescue or recovery in confined spaces.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

1. carry out dyanamic risk assessments of  conditions and situations in confined spaces throughout  rescue and recovery work
2. assess and adapt rescue plans to take account of conditions and situations
3. arrange for all rescue and safety equipment specified in safe systems of work to be on site before work begins
4. put emergency equipment, casualty recovery and handling devices in easily accessible designated locations or positions
5. confirm the suitability of rescue and safety equipment and tools for rescue and recovery activities
6. carry out pre-use checks to confirm the rescue and safety equipment and its fit comply with current legislation, manufacturers' specifications and approved codes of practice before starting work
7. confirm all specified personal protective equipment (PPE) is suitable and compatible with the rescue and safety equipment to be worn before using it
8. resolve any problems with rescue and safety equipment and report non-conformities to appropriate people
9. make sure  emergency communications systems are set up and tested  to ensure they are working before rescue and recovery begins
10. make emergency arrangements known to all emergency team members and relevant support and off-site personnel, checking understanding at appropriate times
11. analyse all available information about incidents and emergencies before commencing  rescue and recovery
12. confirm emergency arrangements, procedures and communications systems are in place before entry
13. deploy emergency team members and confirm all emergency team members know and understand their roles before rescue and recovery begins
14. check all emergency team members are in place with appropriate personal protective equipment before entry begins
15. set up exclusion zones to prevent entry by unauthorized people
16. make sure all emergency team members adhere to safe working procedures and manufacturers’ instructions regarding the carrying, fitting, adjusting and use of rescue and safety equipment 
17. make sure all emergency team members enter confined spaces as prescribed for emergencies and maintain a safe means of escape 
18. make sure all emergency team members carry out rescue and recovery activities in line with procedures 
19. introduce rescue and safety equipment and tools into confined spaces as specified in employers' instructions and procedures
20. monitor rescue and recovery procedures on an ongoing basis
21. communicate at regular intervals with emergency work teams at all stages of rescue and recovery activities
22. assess, prioritise and treat casualties in line with emergency procedures
23. follow and maintain emergency procedures throughout incidents and emergencies
24. monitor conditions and risks within confined spaces and rescue and safety equipment on an ongoing basis during rescue and recovery
25. check and record environmental readings at regular intervals and change rescue and recovery activity to resolve problems shown by information from monitoring equipment
26. act without delay to control risks and remedy any unsafe activity, equipment, and environmental conditions
27. arrange for basic first aid to be available to recovered surface casualties when appropriate
28. give sufficient relevant information to emergency services when handing over casualties
29. recover and remove equipment and tools from confined spaces in line with procedures when permitted
30. set up and maintain exclusion zones of relevant areas  in line with legislative procedures for post-incident investigation
31. record and report emergency incidents and their circumstances in line with organisational and legislative requirements
32. deposit used equipment in designated area for after use servicing 

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

1. the main principles of current confined spaces, health and safety and environmental legislation and regulations
related to emergency rescue in confined spaces and the use of safety equipment  
2. approved codes of practice and guidance for working safely in confined spaces
3. how to access and interpret safe systems of work for confined spaces
4. the implications of the organisation’s drink and drugs policies
5. procedures for dealing with emergencies, incidents, near misses, rescue and recovery 
6. contents of emergency plans including how to deal with fatalities
7. responsibilities of a rescue team and its individual members
8. how to use work authorisations and permits
9. definition of, classification schemes and defining features of confined spaces and their nature and characteristics
10. definitions of hazardous situations and different types and categories of hazards
11. types of spaces that could become confined due to the presence of a specified risk
12. hazards, substances, and situations associated with confined spaces 
13. dynamic assessment of how to reduce risk of injury to self, colleagues and the general public
14. actions that can be taken to reduce risk to an acceptable level for rescue and recovery to be carried out 
15. types of safety, escape and emergency equipment and its uses and limitations
16. how and where to site rescue equipment
17. how to prepare for and deal with weather conditions
18. methods and techniques for using and wearing PPE 
19. manufacturers' instructions relating to the inspection and use of safety, escape and emergency equipment including fall protection equipment, assisted rescue equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus and airline
20. sources of information about incidents and emergencies including maps, technical drawings, readings from monitoring equipment, reports from top person
21. your role when leading emergency rescue and recovery in maintaining the safety of emergency and work team members
22. the limitations and duration of breathing apparatus being used by emergency and work team members
23. how to use tally boards and incident logs for managing rescue operations
24. the role of emergency team members in administering basic first aid and when it is appropriate for them to do so
25. the uses of automated external defibrillators (AED) and oxygen therapy (resuscitator) units and when it is appropriate to use them
26. entry procedures and working procedures and the link between procedures, rescue plans and risk assessments 
27. why it is important to be vigilant to changing risks and hazards
28.  the different types and limitations of monitoring equipment and how to use it
29. decontamination procedures
30. why it is important to resolve problems about work or emergency team members without delay and who to resolve them with including when other people or organisations are involved 
31. communication methods for keeping in contact with other people for use in emergency situations in  confined spaces
32. how to maintain site integrity to enable further investigation following emergency and rescue situations
33. manufacturers’ instructions and procedures for preparing, inspecting us and using tools and equipment and where used and faulty equipment should be placed for servicing or maintenance after use
34. reporting systems for emergency situations and resolving problems
35. important information to pass to emergency services about casualties and how to report it


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

30 Mar 2025





Originating Organisation

Energy and Utility Skills

Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Construction, Planning and the Built Environment, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies

SOC Code



Confined space; high risk; medium risk; low risk; specified risk; entry; exit; safety; access equipment; direct; plan; prepare; report; secure; emergencies; incidents; rescue, recovery; escape, emergency team; casualty; emergency situation;