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.

September 9, 1994

Mr. Michael Sweeney
Operations Manager
CSEEM Limited
P.O. Box 671
Williamsville, NY 14231-0671

Dear Mr. Sweeney:

This is in response to your letter of March 3, requesting interpretative guidance regarding whether your product (CSEEM System) meets the 1910.146 Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS) standard's definition of a retrieval system and requirements for and application as a non-entry rescue system not requiring the use of a tripod or similar device. You further requested guidance, on the behalf of a potential client, of whether your product meets the 1910.269 (Electrical Power Generation, transmission, and Distribution) standard's rescue equipment acquirements. Please accept our apology for the delay in this response.

Whether the CSEEM equipment would be adequate under the standard will depend on a number of factors, including the rescuing attendant's physical ability, dexterity, and stamina; the vertical depth of the permit space descent, and the relative size and weight of the entrant to the rescuing attendant. Therefore, we cannot give you a categorical answer as to whether your equipment would meet the requirements of the standard in all situations.

Also, employers are required by 1910.146(d)(9) to develop and implement procedures for rescuing entrants from permit spaces. Because of all these interrelated variables, the responsible employer will have to practice and demonstrate that the procedure, equipment and personnel are sufficient for rescue for each space where it is applied.

We also note that, from the information provided in your letter, it does not appear that the harnesses used in the CSEEM system meet the requirements of paragraph 1910.146(k)(3)(i) in that the normal attachment point of the retrieval line is at the front of the full body harness instead of the back as required.

[This document was edited on 02/15/99 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.]

Concerning the 1910.269 standard, there are no specifications for rescue equipment. The Agency decided to adopt a performance approach in paragraph (e)(3) requiring employers to provide rescue equipment to ensure safe and prompt rescue from enclosed spaces. The preamble (pg. 4367) Provides some guidance in stating ...

"The equipment must enable a rescuer to remove an injured employee from the enclosed space quickly and without injury to the rescuer or further harm to the fallen employee. A harness, a lifeline, and a self-supporting winch can normally be used in this manner."

Like the 1910.146 standard, whether your equipment would be sufficient will depend on all the factors relating to each situation.

Should you have further questions on this subject, please contact [the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850].


John B. Miles, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs