Confined spaces are a tight fit, but it is possible to work safely in confined spaces in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. You’ll need to be more cautious about PPE use, cleaning, and social distancing guidelines, but plenty of caution is crucial for any worksite even when there isn’t a pandemic. What’s important is making sure that contact with contaminated surfaces and people is minimal. When it comes to coronavirus safety, there are three areas that you can look at.
If you don’t already have best practices and confined space plans in place to limit worker exposure to coronavirus, you should implement them as soon as you can. OSHA recommends that employers thoroughly assess their worksites for exposure hazards and comply with CDC or state health department guidelines on social distancing strategies. While it’s not always possible to stay 6 feet apart in confined spaces, 2 to 3 feet may still be helpful, especially with improved confined space ventilation, social distancing elsewhere, and work substitutions. Limit the number of workers in confined spaces when you can, and consider taking worker temperatures with contact-free thermometers, asking if they have symptoms, or having them take a COVID-19 test.
When disinfecting surfaces in your workplace, the EPA recommends using chemicals that are effective against SARS-CoV-2 (however, they don’t endorse chemicals: they can approve a manufacturer’s EPA registration, which means that the chemical is safe if used as directed). Because every worksite and confined space is different, you might need different chemicals than someone else. Ensure that any chemicals you use to clean your space are used as recommended, won’t create a hazardous atmosphere, and are disposed of properly after use.
PPE is a barrier against respiratory droplets, but it isn’t as effective without other practices in place and should be used in combination with other safety controls. Disposable gloves, masks or other face coverings, safety glasses, face shields, and other coronavirus PPE are all effective protection alongside anything else workers will need for the job, like coveralls or other PPE. Ensure that everyone on-site is educated about how to inspect, use, clean, and dispose of PPE.
PK Safety PPE and Advice
We’ve been in the business of worker safety for decades, and we’re here to make sure that you and your employees are as safe as possible from COVID-19. Our plan for keeping our workers safe while we serve yours can be read on our blog. You can get in touch online or by phone at 800.829.9580 with your safety and equipment questions.