A confined work space is defined across three different criteria: 1) An area large enough to fully enter or perform certain jobs, 2) it has limited or restricted means of entry or exit, and 3) it is not designed for continuous occupancy. Some examples of a confined space may include tanks, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, pipelines, boilers, furnaces, compactors, sewers, attic spaces and elevator pits. Statistics shows that an average of 90 people die each year while working in confined spaces in the United States alone. The following are some tips to ensure safety while working in a confined space.
There must be suitable ventilation within the workplace. If there is restricted or no air supply, you may have to use breathing apparatus to ensure breathing safety.
- Emergency Procedures
Always have a proper rescue plan with the right equipment and procedures before the work begins. This may include communication, rescue, shut down, first-aid, drills, and emergency services.
- Outside attendant
Make sure there is an outside attendant that you keep in contact with at all times and who is there, ready and able to monitor safety conditions and be there to assist if needed.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Make sure all workers have suitable PPE to get the job done safely. This may include making sure employees have: head, hand and foot protection, eye and hearing protection, waterproof and thermal clothing, respirators and breathing apparatus, appropriate safety harnesses, and provide rescue and resuscitation equipment.
You need to isolate utilities to allow your employees to work safely. This may include local gas, water, and electricity.
- Cleaning and cooling before entry
The space should be adequately purged before the entry of workers to ensure that no sludge or other deposits could give off hazardous gas, vapor, dust or fumes during work.
- Test the Air
Check the air to make sure it is free of any toxins by using a gas detector. Continuous air monitoring is recommended as conditions may change in the course of work.
- Use special tools and lighting
Be sure to have enough lighting to ensure you can see exactly what you are doing. Protected lighting is essential when it comes to an area where flammable gases and explosives are likely.
At Frontier Industrial Corp. we always put the safety of our employees first and make sure that they are properly trained when it comes to entering and working in a confined space. More information is available on the following websites: