Be Careful in Confined Spaces
Working in a confined space is dangerous because of the risks of asphyxiation from noxious fumes or dust, reduced oxygen levels, as well as fire and flood dangers. Where can you find confined spaces? Here are a few examples: water and sewer pipes, silos, utility tunnels, pumping stations, tanks, vats, pits, kilns, wastewater wet wells, sumps, vaults, storage bins, crawl spaces under floors, manholes, meter vaults, water reservoirs, boilers, tunnels, and grit chambers.
What you need to do in order to ensure a safe work environment in confined spaces:
- To prevent injuries and deaths, inspect your worksites for confined spaces;
- Use a detailed checklist to analyze the layout, dimensions, entry and exit challenges;
- Get the equipment to test and continuously monitor the atmosphere in each confined space;
- Secure and label each space as a confined space or permit-required confined space;
- Train your employees on all procedures, hazard control, and rescue operations;
- Develop a rescue plan.
What’s Your Rescue Plan?
There are three common approaches to a rescue:
- Non-entry rescue is performed with the help of a rope or a winch without entering into the confined space.
- Entry by a trained rescue team: a lot of companies have their own teams trained in the techniques and the equipment to perform rescues.
- Entry by emergency services, such as the Fire Department, to do rescue.
Deaths often occur when untrained employees attempt to rescue an entrant without the proper equipment, and then get caught in the confined space.
After you close off the area, use a retrieval system to bring the employee out of the confined space. Authorized entrants are required to wear harnesses connected to a retrieval line. The retrieval equipment should be in place before employees enter the permit space.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the fall protection equipment. Harnesses used for fall protection most commonly are full-body style, have flat nylon webbing, and the point of attachment in the center of the back at a shoulder level. Tripods used for vertical entry most commonly are 8-foot or higher. SCBA Units (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) may be required to enter some confined spaces and to perform a rescue. Each confined space must also be evaluated to determine what other types of equipment may be necessary: communication equipment, monitoring and ventilation of space, slings, rescue baskets, ropes, victim stabilizers, and winches. After the rescue, it is important to do a post-incident analysis.
As you can see, there are numerous types of equipment available to assist with rescue. Contact us to determine which ones you need.
What Works Best in Confined Spaces?
We recommend kits that combine all-you-need devices to make any confined space entry safe, both for workers and for rescue teams. At PK Safety, we have made getting all the right confined space items easy by combining the necessities into our confined space entry system. You will get all the confined space tools you need for OSHA compliance with the following kit that includes DBI-SALA II 8300030 Winch w/ 7 ft Tripod, BW Honeywell GasAlert Max XT II, Blower/Duct Canister Combo 25 ft ED7025, and ExoFit Back D-Ring Harness 1107976.
For a more economy-minded users, PK Safety has also compiled a complete Confined Space Entry Contractor’s Kit that features OSHA-compliant products, designed for teams doing periodic, or occasional confined-space entry. This kit was featured in January 2017 issue of the “Cleaner” magazine. The kit provides all the confined-space tools needed for OSHA compliance. It includes BW Max XT II 4-Gas monitor, 8 ft. aluminum Protecta tripod, Compliant Protecta man-rated winch with 50 ft. of cable, Protecta Snatch Block Pulley Assembly 8003205, Allegro Blower/Ventilator with 25 ft. of flexible ducting, 5-Point full-body Protecta harness. It is ideal for multiple applications in tanks, manholes, and other vertical-entry work practices.
If you have questions or need help finding fall protection or rescue solutions, please feel free to call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at pksafety.com.