Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere

A confined space in the workplace is defined as being a space that is large enough for an employee to enter, but with restricted means of entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Types of confined spaces include tunnels, boilers, manholes, pits, tanks, pipelines, etc. The conditions of confined spaces categorize them as hazardous and may be associated with causing serious injury or death to workers if proper safety precautions are not taken. Which is why this is not ordinary safety training, and you must hire a professional to train employees on confined space safety.

Confined space training will teach your team how to identify confined spaces, follow protocol, and how and when to use all safety equipment. Employees must never, ever go into a confined space, permit or non-permit, before receiving proper training. First Response provides actual hands-on experience in a mobile simulator to put your employees directly into those dangerous situations, without the risk. It’s important to maintain composure, professionalism, and seamless prevention procedures in these situations, and what better way than with hands-on exercises.

Determining Permit Space Entry

A professional, confined space safety trainer will know how to determine if a space is a permit-required confined space. Permit spaces have a long list of things that could cause immediate danger on anyone inside, and this must be determined before anyone enters, or in some cases, even goes near the confined space.

As defined by OSHA, a permit-required confined space will have one or more of the following;

  • contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant
  • has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
  • contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress

The confined safety trainer will show employees how and where to spot these hazards in confined spaces. A non-permit confined space does not have those extra dangers like potential hazardous atmosphere or potential to be engulfed by material within the space.

Determining Dangers that can Lead to a Collapse

A confined spaces safety specialist is going to know how to spot slants, angles, and lose ceilings that have the potential to collapse. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reviewed hundreds of unfortunate confined space deaths, and out of 670 confined space deaths, the most common types of hazards were atmospheric conditions and loose material.

Though asphyxiation remains one of the top risks and reasons of death, a collapse endangers all involved from workers trapped beyond the collapse, to the injured worker, and rescue workers. Fully assessing the confined spaces and knowing how to spot a dangerous location within the space are crucial to maintaining an accident-free zone.

Knowing the Importance of Atmospheric Testing

Confined space training discusses the importance of atmosphere testing and how it will reveal what equipment will be necessary to work safely in that hazardous environment. In a confined space incident in 2010, perilous mistakes were made by not tasting the atmosphere that affected both the confined space worker and the rescuers that came. Firefighter rescue came to the scene of a worker lying at the bottom of a deep manhole, assuming he had fallen by accident, they began lowering themselves down the manhole to rescue. It turns out the low 2% oxygen levels had initially made the worker pass out and fall headfirst down the hole, due to him not testing the air beforehand. Because this knowledge was also not known to rescuers, they passed out on their way down, and they required rescue themselves.

The NIOSH in their investigation of confined space-related deaths found that 60% of these fatal accidents are of the rescue workers. Taking these precautions and helping managers receive training to properly identify, protect, and execute these types of atmospheric conditions is what a professional confined space safety trainer can do.

Proper Securing Techniques

A large part of safety training for confined spaces is knowing how to enter and exit the area safely. Many confined spaces may have only the one entrance and exit, and knowing how to utilize that safely can be a difference between life and death. Confined space training will include efficient monitoring of the confined space and proper ventilation techniques. Both of which involve making sure employees know how to identify danger before they enter, while they are inside, and while they are exiting the confined space. Properly securing the space, and themselves if they are repelling or climbing must be taught by someone who knows how these insecure areas work, and what to do when they fail.

How to Compose Oneself in an Emergency

A major part of the safety training includes teaching managers and their employees techniques on how to avert panic and maintain composure in an emergency. Knowing what to do and how to do it when faced with a situation will help save you from serious injury and may even save your life. In a small space, panic can set in, and it can be difficult to remember how to react in this time safely. Workers should leave the training feeling confident that when faced with an emergency, they know how to breathe, concentrate, and let their training take over.

It is very important to receive confined space training from an accredited, professional team of trainers who know everything there is to know about working in a confined space. The First Response confined space training includes four hours of classroom time, followed by a one-hour hands-on training experience. The classes can be done year-round, and will leave you and your team with OSHA certified training. Let us be the ones to give you the training you need to perform to the best of your abilities, and as safely as possible.

Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere

Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere

Follow these simple, common sense rules and it’s extremely unlikely that your entry into a confined space will result in injury or death. But break them, and it’s only a matter of time before you get someone killed or injured.

These general rules are the distilled wisdom of confined space operations, consolidated from many sources, and with the exception of the first rule, they are not in any particular order.

1. Monitor the atmosphere

Atmospheric monitoring is the first and most critical rule, as most fatalities in confined spaces are the result of atmospheric problems. Remember, your nose is not a gas detector — some hazards have characteristic odors and others do not. Even when you can detect the presence of a hazard, you cannot determine the extent of that hazard. Some materials may even deaden your sense of smell after short exposure, which can deceive you into thinking the problem has gone away, when in fact your ability to smell it is all that went away. The only reliable method for accurate detection of atmospheric problems is instrument monitoring. Basic confined space atmospheric monitoring should routinely include oxygen concentration and flammable gases and vapors. OSHA regulations require the oxygen concentration to be between 19.5 and 23.5 percent and flammable vapors or gases to be below ten percent of the lower explosive limit (LEL).

But regulatory limits provide only minimal protection. Best practices dictate that any variation from normal (20.9 percent oxygen and 0 percent LEL) should be investigated and corrected prior to entering the space.

Toxic monitoring requires an evaluation of potential atmospheric contaminants before you even determine how the monitoring will be performed. Simply put, this means you must establish what you need to look for in order to determine what equipment to use. The following digital instruments are available for common toxic contaminants:

  • Electrochemical sensors measure carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, chlorine, and several other materials.
  • Infrared sensors measure carbon dioxide and several other materials.
  • Photo ionization and flame ionization detectors will measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the parts per million (ppm) level. This may be required if solvent vapors are present. These vapors will exceed the limits for inhalation long before they will be detected with most LEL meters.
  • Colorimetric tubes can be used to determine if a toxic contaminant is present in situations where no digital instrument is available.

A thorough assessment of the atmospheric conditions in the space must be completed before entering the space, and should be continued during the entire entry.

2. Eliminate or control hazards

All hazards identified during the hazard assessment must be eliminated or controlled prior to entering the space.Elimination, the preferred method for dealing with hazards, means that a hazard has been handled in a way that it cannot possibly have an impact on the operation. For example, a properly installed blank eliminates the hazard of material being introduced through a pipe.

Control implies that the measures in place contain a hazard. If these measures were to fail, the hazard could have an impact on the operation. Ventilation (see below) is an example of a control, because if the ventilation setup quits, the atmospheric hazard may return.

3. Ventilate the space

Your approach to atmospheric problems should be to correct the condition prior to entry, and ventilation and related activities are the best options for correcting these problems.Forced-air ventilation is generally the most effective approach for confined space entry operations. This technique dilutes and displaces the atmospheric contaminants in the space. Exhaust ventilation works best when a single-point source, such as welding, is the cause of the atmospheric contaminant.

Introduced air must be fresh. Use caution to avoid introducing hazards such as having the inlet of the ventilation setup too near the exhaust of a vehicle. Sufficient volume for the size of the space must be used. The length of duct and the number of bends in the duct can significantly reduce airflow and must be considered.

4. Use proper personal protective equipment

Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) should be the last line of defense. Elimination and control of hazards should be done whenever possible. PPE is essential when the hazards present cannot be eliminated or controlled through other means. PPE that meets the specific hazard must be readily available to the work crew. And personnel must be trained and competent in the proper use of the equipment. It is equally important that supervisors insist on proper use.

5. Isolate the space

Isolation of the space should eliminate the opportunity for introducing additional hazards through external connections. This includes lockout of all powered devices associated with the space, such as electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, and gaseous agent fire control systems. Piping isolation may be completed with blanks, by disconnecting piping, or with a double block-and-bleed arrangement. A single valve is not adequate isolation.

6. Know the attendant’s role

An outside attendant must be present to monitor the safety of the entry operation, to help during an emergency, and to call for assistance from outside if that becomes necessary. The attendant’s role is primarily to help ensure that problems do not escalate to the point where rescue is needed. If an entrant does get injured or overcome, the attendant is to call for help and use external retrieval if available. This attendant must never enter the space during emergencies — multiple fatality incidents in confined spaces usually result from people attempting rescue.

7. Be prepared for rescues

Any equipment required for rescue must be available to those who are designated to use it. External retrieval equipment that may be used by the attendant must be in place when appropriate. More advanced rescue equipment for entry-type rescues must be available to the designated rescue crew.You must ensure that the rescue crew is properly equipped to handle rescue for the particular situation. For example, if the rescue crew for your facility has self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and your spaces do not have large enough openings for the SCBA to pass through, the rescue crew will not be able to perform effectively. In this case, they should be equipped with airline breathing apparatus with escape cylinders.

8. Use good lighting

Lighting is important for two primary reasons: You cannot safely perform in environments where you cannot see adequately, and lighting failure can cause fear. Anyone who is uncomfortable inside a well-lit confined space may become afraid if the lighting fails, and fear can cause people to behave irrationally and injure themselves or others.The entrant should always have at least one backup source of lighting, so if cord lights are used, the entrant should also carry a flashlight.

9. Plan for emergencies

You must assume you will have emergencies. While your efforts to prevent them need to be constant, odds are good that you will have to deal with at least a minor emergency if you engage in confined space entry over a long enough period.Emergencies may not even have anything to do with the confined space, but if the entrant is in the space at the time of the emergency, prompt and effective action is required. If your entry crew is prepared for this emergency, it may be handled without a problem. If preparations are not adequate, the emergency may easily turn into a fatal incident.

10. Emphasize constant communication

Effective communications are critical to safe operation and are the string that ties all the other activities together. Communication must be maintained between entrants and the attendant. The attendant must also be able to contact the entry supervisor and call for emergency help.None of these steps is complex or difficult, but they still provide the layout for a basic, safe approach to confined space entry. Be aware that the next time you read about a confined space fatality, at least one of these general rules was probably violated. And do your best to ensure that I won’t ever read about one of your entries.

This article is from ishn.com
Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere