On-Site Rescue


What are some examples of a confined space?

Examples include: sewers, pits, tanks, vaults, manholes, wells, silos, trenches, bins, storage, boilers and shafts.

I am an employer and my workplace has a confined space. I contract out work to be done in the confined space. Do these provisions apply to me?

Yes. Contracting out work for services makes you an employer, as defined under the OHSA. The general duties of the employer under the OHSA would apply, regardless of the situation. Therefore you have to ensure that workers who you have hired comply with the confined spaces provisions. Refer to the multiple employer section when there are workers of more than one employer required to work in the same confined space.

Does the legislation allow us to contract out our rescue provider?

Yes, however rescue personnel must be available for immediate implementation, which requires them to be on scene for the duration of the entry.

May we use 9-1-1 emergency services as our "on-site" rescue?

No, call 9-1-1 is not considered an "on-site" rescue procedure that is available for "immediate implementation." A separate, trained rescue team will be required as detailed in your Confined Space Plan.

Is an external rescue system adequate for my confined space?

This depends on the space itself. If the entry is a direct line of sight in the vertical direction, a simple retrieval system may be adequate. If the person must travel horizontally in the space or there are any obstacles that would make external retrieval impossible, the team must be prepared to enter.

Is an attendant the same as a rescue team?

No, the attendant has specific responsibilities as outlined in the regulations. During a rescue the attendant must remain outside the space. The rescue team is separate from any other work being done at the space, they are to be in "ready" status to enact a rescue.

Can the rescue team monitor multiple sites at one time?

Yes, providing the sites are close enough to implement the rescue immediately.


The definition of 'confined space' is consistent across all regulations. "confined space" means a fully or partially enclosed space.

  • That is not both designed and constructed for continuous human occupancy, and
  • In which atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents or because of work that is done in it.

If you have a space that is fully or partially enclosed, the two conditions - (a) and (b) above - must both apply before the space can be considered a "confined space".

(Ministry of Labour - September, 2006)


The confined space provisions have been amended to ensure that workers entering, working in or working near confined spaces are protected.

The employer is responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations are complied with in the workplace. The employer must ensure that workers are protected, whether or not the confined space provisions apply.

Contravention of any of the requirements of the OHSA and its regulations is an offence which carries a maximum fine of $25,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than twelve months, or both, for a person. The maximum fine for a corporation is $500,000 per offence.