The safety of yourself and your employees should be the first priority of your business, no matter the industry. The reality of the world of work today is that some workplaces are more dangerous than others. Working in confined space can be dangerous, and it is important to only allow the most prepared and equipped workers to work in potentially dangerous circumstances. In particular, your workers should be trained and qualified to enter and work in confined spaces.
What Qualifies as a Confined Space?
So, what exactly constitutes a confined space? By definition, a confined space is an area which has limited or restricted area for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Examples of confined spaces commonly encountered by workers are:TanksVesselsStorage BinsHoppersVaultsPitsManholes
There are many jobs which require the worker to regularly enter confined spaces. They include vacuum truck operators, pump truck technicians, oilfield labourers, construction workers, electricians, scaffolders, welders, and more. While work in confined space is reguarily done, it is strictly regulated. People entering confined space must have the right training and permits.
Why is Working in Confined Space Dangerous?
Working in confined space can be dangerous for a number of reasons, many of them invisible or hard to detect. The most common reasons that working in confined spaces is dangerous are:
- Risks from noxious fumes
- Reduced Oxygen Levels
- Fire Risks
- Flooding/Drowning Risks
- Asphyxiation Risks
- Contamination risks
- Access difficulties during emergencies
Because these represent increased health and safety risks, it is essential that all workers be property trained to work in these environments. Not only is training a regulatory requirement for those working in confined spaces, working in confined spaces without proper training represents an extremely elevated level of risk which can quickly result in the injury or death or a worker.
Why Confined Space Entry Training is Important
There are a number of hands-on aspects that workers must be fully trained on before they can enter a confined space. In order for workers to be able to enter confined space:
- They must be able to recognize and identify any potential hazards that may be associated with confined space entry.
- They must be familiar with the evaluation and control procedures for the identified or potential hazards.
- They must be aware of the set-up, use and limitations of all the equipment necessary for use inside the confined space area. This equipment may include ventilation equipment, emergency equipment, hazardous energy control equipment and more.
- They must be familiar with the set-up, use and limitations of all of the personal protective equipment (like respirators and full-body harnesses) that they will need to use while they are working inside the confined space.
- They must be knowledgeable about the Confined Space Hazard Assessment Program’s safe work procedures for entering the confined spaces.
- They must be aware of the procedures to follow in the event of a potentially dangerous situation, which may be risky towards the worker or in an emergency.
- They must be familiar with the work that needs to be done in the confined space.
- They must always work in way they avoid putting their lives and the lives of others in jeopardy.
If workers are not properly trained in operating in confined spaces, they run a high risk of serious injury,
Safety is paramount in all workplaces, especially those where workers are exposed to increased risks such as those faced while working in confined spaces.