Roofing company fined after worker seriously injured

Source: SafeWork NSW

Parrish Group NSW Pty Ltd has been fined $300,000 after a worker was seriously injured falling from a roof in Kembla Grange near Wollongong in March 2020.

Head of SafeWork NSW Natasha Mann said the company was sentenced in the NSW District Court for failing to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers.

“The 25-year-old was fitting guttering to the building when he stepped through a gap and fell about 6.8 metres to the concrete slab below,” Ms Mann said.

“From March 2020 onwards, the company changed the way they installed guttering which meant workers left gaps along the length of the guttering where the sumps were to be installed.

“The changed method of work relied on workers maintaining awareness of the areas of unsupported guttering. A risk assessment would have identified and assessed the hazard of the inadequately supported areas.

“This court outcome demonstrates SafeWork NSW’s dedication to enforce the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and hold those who don’t follow the rules to account.”

Parrish Group NSW Pty Ltd has a right to appeal the sentence.

Workers and businesses are urged to take a zero-tolerance approach to risks of falls and injuries in workplaces and can stop accidents before they happen with the NSW Government’s free Speak Up Save Lives app.

Small business owners and sole traders are reminded they can apply for a NSW Government rebate of up to $1,000 to make their workplaces safer with $1 million recently added to the Small Business Rebate Program. Read more about the SafeWork small business rebate.

Learn more about working at heights safely.

Fall protection inspection and certification: more than just a tick-box exercise

Article for Sourceable.

Inspections can’t be missed

Regular inspections are vitally important. Not only are they a regulatory obligation, but ultimately, they help save lives. That’s why it pays to partner with professionals with the necessary experience and competency to inspect and certify your fall protection equipment. Can you afford not to?

There is a wide spectrum of potential issues that may arise when inspecting fall protection systems and PPE, all of which need to be addressed. After all, by its very nature, fall protection equipment can be exposed to the harshest conditions. It’s also important to remember that the general state of PPE and systems can often be influenced by the competency of the person that has used the system and equipment and how frequently it has been used. 

Approach to quality inspection

Some initial questions to consider when inspecting systems and PPE should include; 

  • Has the system been accurately installed within the manufacturer’s guidelines? 
  • Has it been configured properly with the right components? 
  • Are calculations that help ensure safe levels of load absorption accurate? 

If the answer to any of the above questions is “no”, then those working at height could be exposed to an unacceptable level of risk.

Some key issues that quality inspection should cover include: 

  • Inspection of all energy absorbers
  • Checking the cable for damage/signs of wear and tear
  • Any signs of corrosion
  • Re-tensioning of the cable if required
  • Inspecting lanyards and harnesses for cuts, fraying or breaks in the stitching
  • Looking for signs of damage to fittings

Potential issues

By no means does quality inspection stop there. Sometimes, upon scrutiny of the system an inspection may reveal that the system and equipment in place is not correct for the application. The original design process should have identified the key access areas needing to supported by a system and included PPE selection criteria appropriate for the type of work needed to be carried out.  

It’s imperative that the PPE used is compatible with the system in place and that in combination they create is the safest solution for the tasks required. Understanding the difference between a fall restraint system which prevents you from falling versus a fall arrest system protects you after you fall is important when determining the risk factor and how it should be addressed, so it is imperative that the PPE used by an operative is suitable for the type of system they are connecting to. Even understanding how a “fall restraint” system falls under “fall arrest” as a work position informs PPE selection. Remember, as well as inspecting and certifying it, a high-quality fall protection expert should also be able help you specify and install the right equipment at the very outset of a project.

Systems exposed to extreme weather conditions can degrade over time, and while to a certain extent this is an expectation, how quickly this occurs is dependent on the quality of the materials that constitute the fall protection equipment. Not only does this reinforce the importance of regular quality inspections and re-certification, but it should also be a timely reminder to invest in high quality equipment and solutions to mitigate accelerated environmental degradation, maintain safety standards, and ultimately reduce maintenance costs. While the initial financial outlay may potentially be higher, ultimately you will likely reap the benefits of a lower total cost of ownership.

Good preparation begins with quality training

While the responsibility for the safety for those that work at height sits with the PCBU, ultimately the operators themselves should be able to take some responsibility for their own safety. Unfortunately, despite “training”, some people still lack the appropriate knowledge, experience and/or practical training required to be able to accurately identify whether the PPE or a fall protection system is safe to use. This is a major concern, as failure to do so properly could be lethal. That’s why quality appropriate application based education and training is often the best form of first defense.

Remember the fundamentals

Having the right equipment in place and adhering to regular quality inspection and re-certification is important, but it counts for little without all required risk assessments and safety methods statements in place. Even with annual re-certification, all equipment needs to undergo rigorous pre-use checks prior to accessing the work area. Organisations with employees that work at height can employ an external company to come in and check PPE and systems. Some will train people within the company to check equipment themselves. Either way, proper checks need to have been done before use. 

 More than just a tick-box exercise

Inspection and certification are critically important, but unfortunately many still see it as a compliance issue, rather than the life-saving obligation that it is. There is a clear responsibility under the WHS Act to provide a safe workplace for your people, and ensuring systems to manage high-risk activities are intact, safe and fit for purpose is clearly covered under this obligation. If you own, specify or use fall protection equipment, you have an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that inspections are carried out in an accurate and timely fashion. Ultimately, lives may depend upon it. 

Scott Barber – CEO, Australian Working at Height Association (WAHA)

Scott is a professional marketer, copywriter and safety specialist with over 20 years’ experience designing, driving and facilitating communication and education as a fundamental engagement tool.
Specialising in safety and rescue, both operationally and as a consultant, he uses his experience across multiple industries to deliver solutions targeting specific stakeholders using communication as the critical driver for change.

Guide to managing the risks of tree work

Source: Safework Australia

Safe Work Australia has published updated work health and safety guidance for tree work.

The Guide to managing the risks of tree work updates the previous Guide to managing risks of tree trimming and removal work.

The most significant changes in the guide relate to duties around managing the risk of falls when accessing trees and when to consider providing an additional backup safety line for single-rope access systems.

The guide provides practical information to assist persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to manage work health and safety (WHS) risks associated with tree trimming and removal work, including lopping, pruning, wood chipping and stump grinding.

The changes ensure consistency across Safe Work Australia’s guidance on managing the risk of falls, and the updated guide name reflects more commonly used industry terminology.

Ensure you are aware of the changes and understand your WHS duties when managing the risks associated with accessing trees.

Download and read the Guide to managing risks of tree work today.

Asbestos company fined $150k after fatal veranda fall.

Source: SafeWork South Australia

An Adelaide asbestos removal company has been fined $150,000 after one of its workers fell through the roof of a veranda to his death.

The 58-year-old man employed by Allstar Asbestos Services Pty Ltd was working on a crawl board placed over asbestos roof sheeting, which in turn was resting on timber rafters forming a veranda to a residential dwelling in March 2021.

The rafter immediately below the worker snapped, causing him to fall approximately 2.5 metres through the asbestos sheet roofing onto a concrete slab below the veranda.

He suffered a fatal brain injury.

Allstar was charged under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) following a SafeWork SA investigation.

The case was finalised in the South Australian Employment Tribunal on Friday 10 February 2023 following an early guilty plea.

It was alleged that Allstar had a health and safety duty to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers while they were at work.

The deceased worker had been employed by Allstar for almost a decade and had held a Class B Supervisor of Asbestos Removal Licence since December 2014.

A site inspection was conducted by Allstar’s sole director and one other employee at the time.

During the inspection it was identified that a crawl board should be used following concerns over the condition of some rafters above the veranda.

The concerns were further addressed by the placement of a single Acrow prop, a wooden bearer and timber prop under the fascia beam.

Neither the Acrow prop, wooden beam or timber prop were positioned under the rafter that failed, resulting in the tragic incident.

The safe work procedure undertaken by Allstar identified the use of a harness, but one was not provided to the worker for his use at the time of the incident.

In sentencing remarks delivered on Friday, Deputy President Judge Rossi recorded a conviction against Allstar and imposed an initial fine of $500,000, which was reduced to $300,000 following a 40 per cent discount for an early guilty plea.

The fine was further reduced to $150,000 after taking into account Allstar’s inability to pay the full amount due to its limited financial position.

‘The danger associated with working on the asbestos sheeting to the veranda with the minimal propping provided by Allstar was obvious,’ Deputy President Judge Rossi said.

‘At the same time, no fall arrest system was implemented even though the need for one was identified by Allstar prior to the incident.

‘There has been no satisfactory explanation as to how the contravention was allowed to occur in this case, where the risk of falling from a height and measures to address the risk

were identified by Allstar prior to the incident and yet were not satisfactorily addressed.’

Allstar was ordered to pay costs of $3,598 including a $405 Victims of Crime levy.

It has also been directed to produce an educational video outlining the fatal incident, what it has since done to minimise the risk of a recurrence and highlighting the importance of safe systems for working at heights.

Deputy President Judge Rossi said although the penalty should deter a similar lapse in the future, he noted the genuine contrition, the good corporate character of Allstar, and the absence of any prior relevant conviction.

SafeWork SA Acting Executive Director Glenn Farrell said falls from heights, particularly below 3 metres, were among the most common causes of workplace injuries and deaths, all of which are preventable.

‘The lack of consideration and suitable controls to adequately prevent this tragedy is not acceptable,’ Mr Farrell said.

‘All workers and their loved ones should expect employers take reasonable steps to ensure their health and safety, and not to expose them to unnecessary and avoidable risks.’

Further links

SafeWork NSW Update Code of Practice: Confined Spaces

Source: SafeWork NSW

Confined spaces may pose a danger because they are not designed to be areas where people work. Hazards are not always obvious, may change and the risks include loss of consciousness, impairment, injury or death.

Many workplaces have confined spaces such as pits, drains and structural voids in buildings or equipment. They often have poor ventilation that can allow a hazardous atmosphere to quickly develop. The hazards are not always obvious, may change from one entry into the confined space to the next and depend on the workplace or environmental circumstances.

This code is based on a national model code of practice developed by Safe Work Australia under the harmonisation of national work health and safety legislation and has been approved under section 274 of the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Notice of that approval was published in the NSW Government Gazette referring to this code of practice as Confined spaces (page 7194) on Friday 16 December 2011. This code of practice commenced on 1 January 2012.

The 2022 Code of Practice: Confined Spaces, supersedes the 2020 publication.

This can be viewed online here.

Additional references and resources can be found in Standards:

  • AS 2865-2009 Confined Spaces
  • AS 1319-1994 Safety signs for the occupational environment
  • AS/NZS 1715: 2009 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment.

Federal Government passed the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation

At the end of November 2022, the Federal Government passed the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation (Respect@Work) Bill which aims to ensure everyone can work in safe, sexual harassment-free workplaces.

Two main functions of the new law will require employers to take measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation, and prohibits conduct that results in a hostile workplace environment on the basis of sex, and confers new regulatory powers on the Commission.

National Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said: “The Respect@Work Bill is a major achievement that fundamentally changes how Australia protects people from workplace sexual harassment.

“It changes our settings from being reactive to also being proactive, so that employers are required to take meaningful action to prevent harassment from occurring. It shifts the emphasis from a complaints-based model to one where employers must take action, and continuously assess and evaluate whether they are meeting the requirements of the duty. 

The Commission, together with the Respect@Work Council, launched a new website earlier this month,, providing comprehensive information and resources to help businesses fulfil their obligations and create respectful workplaces, free from harassment.

The positive duty was a key recommendation of the Commission’s landmark  Respect@Work Report, led by Commissioner Jenkins, published in March 2020. The Government has committed to implementing all the report’s 55 recommendations as a matter of priority. 

Commissioner Jenkins said: “Although there will be a 12-month transition period before the duty becomes enforceable, I urge all workplaces to implement change now, so that people may enjoy safer workplaces, free from sexual harassment, sooner. 

“These important reforms are timely and should be considered by state and territory governments to achieve greater harmonisation of sexual harassment legislation as part of any upcoming legislative reviews.”

Slips, Trips and Falls

Source: Safe Work Australia

Each year slips, trips and falls cause thousands of preventable injuries, with the most common being musculoskeletal injuries and fractures. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must eliminate or minimise the risks of injury as far as is reasonably practicable.

The most common ones are: 

  • musculoskeletal injuries (injuries to muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage and spinal discs)
  • cuts 
  • bruises 
  • fractures 
  • dislocations. 

More serious injuries and deaths can also happen. 

Slip, trip and fall hazards 

Some things that can cause you to slip are: 

  • the wrong footwear 
  • polished, wet or greasy floors. 

In most cases, people trip on low obstacles that are hard to spot, such as: 

  • uneven edges in flooring 
  • loose mats 
  • open drawers 
  • untidy tools, or 
  • electrical cables. 

Falls can result from a slip or trip, but many occur from low heights. For example: 

  • steps 
  • stairs 
  • kerbs, 
  • holes 
  • ditches, or 
  • wet or slippery surfaces. 

WHS duties  

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must always aim to eliminate the risk of slips, trips and falls, so far as is reasonably practicable. If that is not possible, you must minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable. 

You must identify hazards, and assess and control risks. Think about your: 

  • work areas 
  • work procedures 
  • tools 
  • equipment.  

Consulting with workers can help you find better and easier ways to identify and minimise risks. You should also review control measures to ensure they are working as planned.  

Workers also have duties, including taking reasonable care for their own health and safety. 

Managing risks  

The best way to manage the risk of slips, trips and falls is to eliminate hazards at the design stage of the workplace.  

If you can’t eliminate the risk, you must minimise it so far as is reasonably practicable. 

Designing safe workplaces 

In designing floors, stairs, lighting, drainage and storage: 

  • keep floors at a single level and use slip-resistant floor coverings 
  • install extra power points to avoid trip hazards from trailing cords 
  • ensure all areas are well lit, particularly stairwells 
  • have good drainage and slip resistant grates 
  • have lots of storage, so things aren’t left in walkways. 

Safe work procedures 

Work procedures can also impact on the incidence of slips, trips and falls. Have clear procedures to: 

  • remove rubbish to avoid trip hazards 
  • return tools and other items to their storage areas after use 
  • report and clean spills 

Keep the workplace clean 

All workers share responsibility for keeping the workplace clean and tidy.  

Make sure you: 

  • have adequate rubbish and recycling bins 
  • have cleaning schedules in place 
  • dry floors after cleaning 
  • don’t have cords on walkway or work area floors. 


Training helps workers become more aware of slip and trip hazards and helps to prevent injuries.  

Training should include:  

  • awareness of slip and trip hazards 
  • identifying effective control measures 
  • duties of workers. 

Using personal protective equipment (PPE) 

As a PCBU, you should only use PPE: 

  • after you have implemented all other possible control measures. 
  • as an interim measure until you can use a better control measure 
  • as a backup in addition to other control measures. 

Slip-resistant footwear 

Slip-resistant footwear is a type of PPE. 

Slip-resistant footwear should be appropriate for the work and workers must wear it properly. 

In wet conditions, the shoe sole tread should: 

  • be deep enough to help penetrate the surface water 
  • make direct contact with the floor. 

In dry conditions, the shoe sole tread: 

  • pattern should be a flat bottom construction 
  • should grip the floor with maximum contact area. 

Types of slip-resistant footwear 

Urethane and rubber soles are more slip resistant than vinyl and leather soles.  

Sole materials that have tiny cell like features are slip resistant. 

Supporting information

SafeWork NSW Building and Construction Symposium 

The NSW Government’s inaugural Safe Work NSW Building and Construction Symposium was originally scheduled to be a two day event, in Sydney. The WAHA were initially engaged for the Symposium to present on the topic of fall prevention as well as be on the primary panel for a falls from heights workshop. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the event was rescheduled twice before being downsized to a primary event in Sydney, with Regional Roadshow events held at Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Newcastle, Wollongong, Batemans Bay, Wagga Wagga, Orange, and Port Macquarie. 

The Symposium finally came together in 2022, and was held at CommBank Stadium Parramatta on the 10th May 2022. The Symposium brought together the Regulator and the building and construction industry to launch the Scaffolding Industry Safety Standard (SISS) as well as conduct workshops to address the ongoing issues around working at heights in NSW. 

Scott Barber, Deborah Chick and Ashley Campbell attended the event as SMEs to participate in the break out sessions across three sub-industry areas; residential/house construction (stream 1), multi-storey mixed use (stream 2), and infrastructure (stream 3) provided a forum to address their specific issues, improve safety standards and work with Safe Work NSW. 

Participants at the Sydney event agreed that it was a valuable opportunity to engage and consult on WHS issues and attendance resulted in a better understanding of the regulatory landscape. They also found the Scaffolding Industry Safety Standard (SIIS) session valuable as it gave them a better understanding of how to safely manage scaffolding work; and commented that the workshops being split across three sub-industry areas; residential/house construction (class 1), multi- storey mixed use (class 2), and infrastructure provided a forum to address their specific issues, improve safety standards and work with SafeWork NSW. The most popular part of the symposium was the keynote speakers, followed by the networking opportunities, the delivery of the SISS and the falls from heights workshops.

You can read the full report of the SafeWork NSW Building and Construction Safety Symposium Evaluation online here.

Regarding the falls from heights workshops, each stream brainstormed ideas for potential regulatory options to solve this “wicked problem” – the most common cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites, with this statistic echoed throughout the whole of Australia where an average 12.2% of all workplace fatalities for the last five years running occur from a fall from height. A significant number of suggestions were recorded across all workshops in the afternoon, including: 

Regulatory change: increased penalties, demerit point system, specific Safe Work NSW led Working at Heights Forum, permit and licencing systems introduced; 

Communication: building greater awareness and risks including guidance material, changing messaging regarding accountability and duties of leaders; 

Training: specific training for Working at Heights specific to sub-sector and skills, White Card changes/inclusion of work at height, greater oversight of Registered Training Organisation (RTO) providers; and, 

Licensing: High Risk Work Licence (HRWL) e.g., <4m and >4m, sub-competencies as per trade (formwork, scaffold), validity period. 

A separate regulatory options paper will be prepared by Safe Work NSW for further consultation. 

Overall, the Symposium was a successful way to engage with the building and construction industry, with it recommended to be delivered every two years with smaller stream specific forums in between, to engage with industry and discuss solutions for priority issues, addressing specific harms in the targeted locations and sub-sectors across the state. 

SafeWork NSW will be meeting in February 2023 to further discuss the opportunity and logistics of bringing a working at height qualification over into the High Risk Work License, and the WAHA will be involved in this meeting. We look forward to following this project closely.

$2m fine reinforces SafeWork NSW Scaff Safe Message

Source: SafeWork NSW & Lets Talk About Safety

A Sydney scaffolding company has been fined $2 million by the NSW District Court, the highest penalty ever recorded for a SafeWork NSW offence.

Head of SafeWork NSW Natasha Mann said the fine serves as a reminder to construction businesses throughout NSW about the importance of work site safety as no amount of money will ever compensate for a life lost.

“On 1 April 2019, a steel modular scaffold collapsed at a construction site in Macquarie Park Sydney, crushing two workers. Tragically an 18-year-old worker was killed, and another suffered life-changing injuries,” Ms Mann said.

“Synergy Scaffolding Services Pty Ltd plead guilty to a Category 1 offence* under section 31/19(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in the NSW District Court.

“As part of the plea, Synergy accepted there was no vertical bracing for the scaffolding where there should have been, as per Australian Standards.

“Synergy also failed to advise the principal contractor that the loads placed on the scaffold exceeded the amount of weight the scaffold could safely hold, with the scaffold overloaded at the time of the incident.

“In sentencing, the judge noted the collapse of the scaffold was caused by a culmination of events and the case should serve as a telling reminder that unsafe acts on a building site can and do lead to catastrophic consequences.”

Ms Mann said Operation Scaff Safe 2022 is currently underway.

“It is a six-month campaign with Inspectors out in-force across NSW checking scaffolding installations on construction sites. In particular, they will be looking to see that installations are applying the new Scaffold Industry Safety Standard (PDF, 11195.23 KB) which was published in March of this year.

“Scaffolding requires constant attention and coordination. The Industry Standard sets out practical guidance that can be used by principal contractors and scaffolders to effectively manage safety risks through all phases of a construction project.

“Inspectors can issue on-the-spot fines for non-compliance. Individuals may be fined up to $720 and businesses up to $3,600,” she said.

In the past two years SafeWork NSW have implemented several programs to improve safety for workers in the construction industry including:

  • The establishment of a Family and Injured Worker Support Group to provide advice and feedback to SafeWork NSW for families and injured workers impacted by a workplace tragedy.
  • The development of a Young Worker eToolkit, for employees and workers, containing tips and training materials about work safety rights and responsibilities.
  • The Speak Up Save Lives app which allows people to anonymously report unsafe work practices directly to SafeWork NSW.
  • Annual SafeWork NSW Building and Construction Symposium events that brings builders, industry, and government together to improve safety for workers.

Find scaffolding safety resources and further information at SafeWork NSW.

Synergy Scaffolding Services has the right to appeal the penalty.

* Category 1 is the most serious category of offence provided for in the Work Health and Safety Act. The offence is committed when a person with a health and safety duty engages in conduct that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury, without a reasonable excuse and is reckless as to that risk.

In addition to the work undertaken by SafeWork NSW in the last two years, the family of the 18-year-old worker who tragically lost his life, have actively been working within the industry to Stop; Speak Up and Save Lives.

Christopher Cassaniti had only just celebrated  his 18th Birthday with family and friends on the Saturday. He had just purchased his first car and picked it up on the Friday before. He was a young man with dreams and goals that were never fulfilled. His death shook the family and the industry to its core and left a legacy behind, so since his death, his mother Patrizia Cassaniti has turned her anger to something positive and has been advocating safety in his honour with a mission to make sure that no Australian worker should ever go to work and die. She has been making her presence known at major industry events and with media outlets, sharing her story about ‘WHAT TRAGEDY LOOKS LIKE’ and what happens when complacency overrides what we know is Safe to do in the first place and disaster hits.

Patrizia Cassaniti attended the SafeWork NSW – Building and Construction Safety Symposium earlier this year, during which the aforementioned SafeWork Scaffolding Industry Safety Standard was released.

The scaffold was a wedge-lock type birdcage scaffold, originally used as a bridge between a personnel and materials hoist and the building under construction. At the time of collapse the hoist had been removed and the scaffold was being used to store material and to complete the remaining façade work on the exterior of the building.

The subsequent investigation by SafeWork NSW identified issues with the planning, design, management and modification of the scaffold, as well as a lack of clarity regarding its duty rating. It also identified a need for clear written guidance regarding:

  • Management of contractors
  • Management of scaffolding work
  • Management of erected scaffolds, particularly on-going modification
  • Training and qualification of workers
  • Role of engineers, sign-offs and verifications

The prosecution resulted in a WHS Project Order made under Section 238 of the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011, to develop a Scaffolding Industry Safety Standard to provide this guidance: which you can view online here.

Is Your Confined Space Rescue Plan Up To Scratch?

It is still a common, albeit not acceptable, occurrence to walk into a workplace within Australia and review a confined space entry permit, only to find that the ‘rescue plan’ only states ‘Call 000’.

This so-called ‘rescue plan’ does not meet the Australian regulatory requirements and does not adequately account for any unique considerations the confined space presents, let alone safely plan for the rescue of injured personnel.

Confined space emergencies often occur when confined space entry control measures fail, or control measures are not adhered to. A failure in confined space entry control measures can lead to a fatality, or multiple fatalities if teams are not trained well and a robust SWMS is in place.

Sadly, data shows us that approximately 50% of confined space fatalities are ‘would-be’ rescuers who endeavour to rescue persons from confined space emergencies, often without the appropriate training, equipment and experience required.

1. When was the last time you reviewed the confined space rescue capability at your workplace?

Do you have a documented and rehearsed rescue plan, with adequately trained rescue personnel and the capability to rescue an injured person from a confined space if an emergency occurs?

PCBUs must ensure that adequate emergency procedures are in place for all confined space entries, and that these emergency procedures are documented and regularly rehearsed. For your organisation to have a well-developed confined space rescue capability, you should have the following three key measures in place:

  • A confined space rescue plan is completed for every confined space entry that occurs.
  • Confined space rescue training is undertaken by relevant personnel based on the site-specific hazards and risks.
  • Confined space rescue exercises form part of the overall emergency management and emergency preparedness strategy for your workplace.

2. A confined space rescue plan is completed for every confined space entry that occurs

All confined space entries are different, and each requires a documented emergency response plan that covers the types of emergencies that may occur and the specific rescue procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency. The rescue plan should be written by a competent person who analyses the confined space work, the types of emergencies that are foreseeable and the emergency rescue procedures to be implemented.

By having an effective confined space rescue plan in place (which should be attached to the confined space entry permit at the confined space entry location), you can ensure that if an emergency occurs, a safe and effective emergency response can be undertaken that has been documented. This prevents rescues that could expose rescuers to hazards that they are not aware of from being undertaken without proper planning.

Generally, a confined space rescue plan should cover at least the following:

  • Activation of the rescue plan (who will activate the emergency response and who will attend, and who will contact emergency services).
  • PPE required by the rescue team prior to entry (eg, SCBA, retrieval equipment, medical response, etc).
  • Rescue method (non-entry rescue such as a tripod and winch, or an entry-rescue that may require rescue personnel to wear breathing apparatus and other PPE).
  • Pre-positioned rescue and first aid equipment required, inspection of equipment, and location of equipment and anchor points, etc (eg, tripods, harnesses, stretchers, rope rescue equipment, breathing apparatus equipment, gas detectors, communication equipment etc). Note: Consideration should be given to locating this equipment at the confined space entry and pre-rigging equipment where practicable.
  • How the casualty will be extracted from the incident to medical assistance and who will provide the medical assistance.
  • Does the complexity of the rescue plan require the confined space entrants to wear specific PPE such as a confined space harness throughout the work, or do workers need to remain attached to ropes or winch lines as an additional safety consideration?
  • Specific hazards and control measures that must be known and understood by the rescue team prior to entry, such as isolations. The rescue team must also review the confined space entry permit prior to entry.

Note: If the assessed work within the confined space changes, or if items of rescue equipment noted within the rescue plan are not available on the day of the work, then the confined space work should cease until a new rescue plan is completed.

3. Confined space rescue training is undertaken by the relevant personnel based on the site-specific hazards and risks

The selection of the type of confined space rescue training to be carried out must be based on the types of confined space rescue scenarios that your personnel may be required to respond to. Expert advice should be sought to ensure that the confined space training is based on the types of rescues that must be undertaken and the equipment available.

Confined space rescue courses are normally 3–5 days in duration (depending on the modules covered) and normally comprise the following subjects:

  • Confined space hazards and control measures.
  • Confined space rescue systems (rigging rope rescue systems, use of tripods and davits, stretcher usage, anchor points and re-directions etc).
  • Rescue team duties, rescue size-up and planning (team leader, safety officer, rescue team members).
  • First aid and patient packaging knowledge and skills.
  • Breathing apparatus usage in emergency response environments (self-contained breathing apparatus and/or airline breathing apparatus operations in areas of restricted movement).
  • Gas detection knowledge and skills.
  • Various practical rescue scenarios based on the specific hazards of the workplace.

Confined space training should involve an emphasis on practical rescue skills, rigging skills and patient packaging skills. Multiple scenarios should be run so that rescue team members can apply their skills and knowledge to varied scenarios, and participate in the various rescue team member roles. At the conclusion of the course, participants should be able to respond to reasonably foreseeable confined space rescue situations on-site, develop a rescue plan and complete a rescue of injured personnel within a confined space environment. Training should be refreshed at least annually to retain core skills.

4. Confined space rescue exercises form part of the overall emergency management and emergency preparedness strategy for your workplace

For confined space rescue teams to conduct safe rescues of injured patients from a confined space, exercises must occur regularly. Confined space rescue exercises give rescue teams the ability to hone their knowledge, skills and experience in a variety of circumstances. Rescue scenarios should mirror real-world, site-specific scenarios that may occur at your workplace and make use of actual workplace confined spaces wherever practicable.

Where possible, have confined space rescue exercises supervised by a confined space rescue trainer who can provide practical guidance and feedback to improve the performance of the rescue team. Plan out the exercises a year ahead, involve your safety team and have the goal of increasing the complexity of the rescue exercise on each occasion to develop the rescue team’s skills.


Confined space rescues are a very technical form of rescue that often involves setting up complex rope rescue systems, utilising breathing apparatus equipment and gas detection equipment. To ensure that you have a tried and tested capability to rescue injured personnel from confined space emergencies, ensure that you put in confined space rescue plans, conduct appropriate confined space rescue training and regularly carry out confined space emergency response exercises.

Article by Scott Barber – CEO, Australian Working at Height Association (WAHA)