The Dangers of Confined Spaces.
The risks aren’t always obvious.
The Dangers of Confined Spaces.
Confined Spaces – Things everyone should know.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a “permit-required confined space” as an area containing the following characteristics:
- Has potential to contain hazardous atmosphere.
- Contains material that risks engulfing an entrant.
- Includes walls converging inward or floors sloping downward and taper into a smaller area that could potentially trap an entrant.
- Contains other unrecognized safety hazard including exposed live wires and unguarded machinery.
OSHA strictly enforces permit requirements to ensure the safety of workers entering a confined space. Prior to operation and entrance, companies operating a confined space must secure the necessary permits. However, about 1.6 million workers enter a confined space each year. One of the most terrifying parts about confined spaces is that often, the risk can invisible to their victims. This is one of the reasons why 60% of confined space fatalities are would-be rescuers. The video at the top of this page is the scary example of how easily it happens.
What to Consider Before Entering a Confined Space
- Know what you are getting into. Literally. Do you know all the risks that could be at play in this area? Have you received a permit to do this task? Are you aware of the safety precautions prior to your entry? Knowledge is the best weapon when it comes to staying safe. Make sure you and your team are fully aware of the situation and have tested everything you can, first hand.
- Get the details on what is inside the confined space. Prior to entering a confined space, it is important for you to understand what is going on in there so you can be fully prepared. Another crucial detail is the atmosphere of the space. Has the atmosphere been tested for combustible gases, oxygen or toxins? Will the atmosphere stay the same for the entire duration of your stay or does it change from time to time? Oxygen level is important in a confined space. Ensure that proper testing is done at the time of the confined space work. Make sure that there are detectors to monitor oxygen level as well as carbon monoxide and other toxic gases. Otherwise, equip yourself with oxygen tanks and other devices to fight suffocation and loss of oxygen.
- Understand how you need to get in and get out. Do you know how to safely get inside the space? Do you know how to safely and easily get out when needed?Entry and exit plans are two important routines a worker needs to bear in mind before getting in a confined space. Most confined spaces may require a harness before you get in otherwise; you may suffer a painful fall and injure yourself. An exit plan needs to consider an alternative escape route in case of emergency. If an alternative route is not available, make sure your rescue teams are aware of the steps needed to enter and exit the location.
- See to it that there is proper lighting. Are there lights to guide your path when you enter? How are the lights installed? Is there enough light to enable you to work properly? . It must be properly installed in needed spaces and must not hinder an entrant.
- Consider means to communicate. How will you communicate to the people outside? Are there signals or frequencies that can reach anyone easily? Contact to the outside is vital to secure productivity and safety inside. When something unusual and suspicious is happening inside the confined space, the worker can inform people outside. At the same time, any signs of danger can alert people inside the confined space to exit the premises immediately. More importantly, never allow a worker to enter a confined space without a spotter and a rescue team on standby.