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A construction worker’s cries ring out from an inlet pipeline in the treatment plant. Fortunately, maintenance & operations workers know what to do. When asked what prompted them to execute the right strategies in the heat of the moment, workers credit professionalism, speedy thinking, & confined space training. Without the proper training, people working in confined spaces are exposed to the lots of dangers & risks that present themselves under these conditions. Quality training could mean the difference between life & death when it comes to working in confined areas.

When an emergency situation occurs in a confined work area at a construction site, many workers naturally let their emotional response take over. Acting on impulse, they may make an improper decision that could have extreme consequences. Workers who have received Confined Space Training, however, are equipped with the proper strategies to execute in an emergency and don’t have to think two times before acting. Even when the adrenaline is high, trained workers can make fast decisions about the proper way to help the person in danger.

Just what are the hazards of working in small, enclosed areas?

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) standards, a confined space is that “has limited or restricted means for entry or exit” & “is not designed for continuous worker occupancy.” With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the potential hazards that might be faced in enclosed spaces.

It is impossible to smell oxygen or some poisonous gases, so the human nose is not a reliable source of indication of secure or insecure atmospheres.

Atmospheric hazards are the most common dangers of working in confined spaces. Carbon monoxide, for example, is invisible. Not only is it colourless & odourless, but it is tasteless & virtually undetectable. A lack of oxygen is an immense threat to those working in confined spaces and can incapacitate a worker immediately. The air present in spaces should be constantly monitored for oxygen and contaminants using the appropriate equipment. These include high quality has detectors that meet the required sampling level for your environment.

There is also the looming possibility of being engulfed or entrapped by a cave-in of soil or other various materials.

In order to feel adequately prepared to help yourself or others in an emergency situation, you must be fully aware of the details regarding the confined areas in your workspace. Make sure that you understand all of the potential dangers & how to resolve each one in the event that they occur. It’s also important to be aware of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s safety standards, & incorporate processes to meet those standards in your everyday work. Make sure that you have the proper documentation & training needed to work in these dangerous areas.

Key Things To Consider:

Communication:

Communication among co-workers or among rescue teams needs to be constant throughout the entire process. Rescue procedures should include hard-line communication equipment that will continue to work inside a variety of metal containers and at great depths where wireless equivalents would become unreliable.

Confined Space Safety Tips:

  • Make sure that the confined space is well lit and also ventilated properly.
  • The ventilation line must be closest to the working area.
  • All equipment used should be appropriate for the type of enclosed space you’re working in; equipment being used in flammable areas should be non-spark generating and fireproof.
  • Entrances and exits should be large enough to facilitate free access including any clothing or rescue equipment required in an emergency.
  • Confirm that any leading structures to the confined spaces, for example, walkways and ladders, are secure.
  • Exhaust gasses from machines must be vented directly out of the space.
  • In the event you are using cloudy chemicals for example solvents, Material Safety Information Sheets (MSDS) should be referred for their safe use.

Although the safest way to perform work in an enclosed space is to work on it from outside the immediate area, this is not always feasible. There are occasions when a worker must go into the enclosed space and get the job done. Having extensive training in confined spaces is the best gizmo that can benefit everyone at the worksite.

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