confined space

Emphasis on Confined Space

Emphasis on Confined Space

confined spaceConfined space can be deadly.  Overcome by gases, vapors, fumes, engulfed by material, or caught in moving machinery, workers may find they have nowhere to go without proper entry procedures.  Adding to this potential tragedy, most fatalities occur to ill-prepared rescuers.

A confined space is large enough for an employee to enter and perform work.  It has limited openings to enter and exit.  It is not designed for continuous occupancy.  A permit-required confined space has these limitations AND added dangers such as hazardous atmospheres, material engulfment, inwardly converging or sloped walls, or other serious safety and health hazards.

Confined space examples include water and sewer pipes, silos, utility tunnels, pumping stations, storage bins, crawl spaces under floors, manholes, meter vaults, water reservoirs, boilers, tunnels, holding tanks, vats, tanks, pits, kilns, wastewater wetwells, sumps, vaults, and grit chambers.

To prevent injuries and deaths, survey your worksites for confined spaces.  Use a detailed checklist to analyze the layout, dimensions, entry/exit challenges, and atmospheric conditions for EACH space.  Secure and label each space as a confined space or permit-required confined space.

Create a written confined space program listing these spaces.  Detail who will enter confined spaces, how they will enter, and what work they will conduct. Get the equipment to test and monitor the atmosphere in each of your confined spaces.  Identify how many attendants need to be outside each confined space during an entry.

Develop a rescue procedure including the number of people, the personal protective equipment, and rescue devices needed for each confined space.  Rescue must be IMMEDIATELY available onsite during a confined space entry.  DON’T rely on outside emergency responders for rescue; use a rescue plan.  Rescue delays can result in multiple deaths.

Finally, train your employees and supervisors on all of these procedures, hazard control, and rescue operations.  Planning and training can prevent confined space tragedy.