OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

May 5, 1994

Mark A. Roberts, MD, PhD
Medical College of Wisconsin
Department of Preventive Medicine
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI. 53266

Dear Mr. Roberts:

This is in response to your letter January 7, in which you requested an evaluation of alternative procedures for the non-entry rescue provision of the 29 CFR 1910.146(k)(3) standard proposed by your client. You further requested a source of further information on the resulting health effects to entrants as a result of being rescued using non-entry techniques.

The alternate procedure proposed by your client's employee committee are basically those of an in-house rescue service. The presence of an employer's rescue service complying with paragraph [1910.146(k)(2)] is not a substitute for the non-entry rescue provision of (k)(3) of the standard.

The purpose of the non-entry rescue provision is two fold: (1) that rescue of the authorized entrant can begin immediately thus saving valuable time and (2) the procedure does not place the rescuer at risk to the hazards contained in the PRCS.

In regard to the alternate procedures described in your letter, we find definite deficiencies in the proposal. Please refer to the requirements for rescue services of 29 CFR [1910.146(k)(2)], the duties of attendants found in 1910.146(i) and the training requirements of 1910.146(g) for comparison. The significant difference between your proposal and the standard relates to rescuer's training on: the personal protective equipment they will be using for their protection while in the PRCS; all rescue equipment to be employed for rescue operations; the duties of an attendant; and acquiring the same understanding, knowledge, and skills of an authorized entrant for the PRCS to be entered with respect to its hazards and conditions.

The standard, however, does provide for those situations where the retrieval equipment would increase the overall risk of entry or would not contribute to the rescue of the entrant. The preamble of the final rule (pages 4530 & 4531) summarizes the comments received on this subject and provides guidelines which OSHA will use for evaluating an employer's determination not to use retrieval equipment.

In regard to your request for sources of scientific information relating to injuries resulting from extraction of entrants using a harness and retrieval line, the Final Rule and its references may be helpful. A copy of the Federal Register part II (Vol.58, No.9/Thursday, January 14, 1993) containing the final rule and its preamble are enclosed.


Raymond Donnelly, Director
Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance