Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS) entry requires specialized equipment. That equipment needs to be on-site and close at hand in case of an emergency. Creating checklists of all the items that need to be included for workers to enter confined spaces can be as lifesaving as the equipment they itemize.
Don’t trust your entry team’s lives to your memory of all the pieces of PPE required for entry. A simple checklist can create the types of routine surrounding PRCS entry that will avoid dangerous or unprepared work in these highly regulated areas.
Use the equipment checklist for periodic inspection of the items when they are not being used by workers. Essential safety equipment must be checked by on-site personnel to make sure it is functioning properly. Broken, frayed, uncharged or un-calibrated equipment can actually cause an accident when all other procedures in the confined space entry have been executed correctly.
Depending on your confined space, some, if not all, of the following equipment should be on site and recently inspected:
- Direct-reading gas monitors that provide real-time read out of gas levels including oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide and lower explosive levels.
- Batteries much be checked
- May need bump testing or calibration
- Safety harnesses, lifelines and rescue y-lanyards
- Must not have been involved in serious falls
- Must be checked for cuts, tears, and abrasions
- Communications equipment
- Batteries must be checked
- Electric equipment specified as intrinsically safe
- Non-sparking tools
- Tools made of metals such as brass, bronze, Monel metal (copper-nickel alloy), copper-aluminum alloys (aluminum bronze), or copper-beryllium alloys (beryllium bronze)
- If the confined space atmosphere is monitored, ventilation is ongoing, and LEL readings remain below 10% then non-sparking tools may not be needed, depending on the decision of the entry supervisor
Simply creating a checklist is clearly not enough. The supervisor, entry team and others on the job site must be aware of its existence and understand that no entry is possible without fulfilling all necessary items. Obviously items that don’t work or can’t pass inspection can’t be crossed off your PRCS checklist.