Construction projects often involve working in confined spaces including: underground vaults, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, and underground utility vaults and pipelines. A confined space has limited openings for entry or exit. This can be very dangerous, especially in an emergency situation where workers need to evacuate fast.
OSHA provides rules and guidelines to inform both employers and employees on what the safest practices are for working in confined spaces. By following these rules, workers will know how to think and act fast in the event of danger. To better protect construction workers from the chance of danger arising, various confined spaces require a permit. According to OSHA, the following are examples of confined spaces that require a permit:
- May contain a hazardous or potentially hazardous atmosphere
- May contain a material which can engulf an entrant
- May contain walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
- May contain other serious physical hazards such as unguarded machines or exposed live wires
- Must be identified by the employer who must inform exposed employees of the existence and location of such spaces and their hazards
A permit helps ensure that the area is safe for workers to enter. It is extremely important that workers adhere to this and only enter once it is clear to do so. To better understand what to do on a project that involves working in a confined space, here are five steps (according to OSHA) :
1) Do not enter permit-required confined spaces without being trained and without having a permit to enter.
Workers should never enter a space that requires a permit. It is important that these confined spaces are examined, assessed, and cleared as safe to enter.
2) Review, understand and follow employer’s procedures
Before entering permit required confined spaces, be sure to review safety procedures set out by your employer. Being informed on protocols can help you make a fast decision in the event of an emergency.
3) Identify Hazards Before Entry
Before entry, test and monitor for oxygen content, flammability, toxicity or explosive hazards as necessary.
4) Wear Personal Protective Equipment
Use employer’s fall protection, rescue, air-monitoring, ventilation, lighting and communication equipment according to entry procedures. Personal protective equipment must be worn at all times and can significantly protect workers against potential hazards they may run into.
5) Maintain Communication and Contact
It is important to have consistent communication with a trained attendant. This can be conducted visually, by phone, or by two-way ration. This allows the attendant or entry supervisor to order you to evacuate and to alert the appropriately trained rescue personal.
At Frontier industrial Corp., safety is our number one priority. Working in a confined space can be a great challenge and there are many risks that come along with it. With adequate training and following OSHA guidelines, workers will be informed on how to best maximize their safety in the event hazards and dangers arise.