Confined space entry without injury; tips for keeping workers and rescuers safe.
Confined space work dominates many physical professions, particularly construction and mining. These industries have a high number of regulatory guidelines to follow in order to help keep their workers safe, and entering a confined space is no exception to this. In order to safely enter and exit a confined space, employers should educate their workers on how to conduct their work safely. They should also work to improve the conditions in an effort to make a rescue easier in the event that one is needed.
Assess the Situation
Before entering a confined space, the situation should be thoroughly assessed, determining what equipment should be used for entry, and what measures will be needed if a rescue operation has to be initiated. This forward-thinking approach makes a dramatic difference in the level of safety involved in confined space work.
Once the situation has been assessed, written procedures should be established. Establishing these procedures and ensuring that they are followed is imperative for safety in confined space work. Whether the work is daily, weekly, monthly, annually or even less frequent, having written guidelines for entry will help protect workers whenever entry must occur.
Proper Safety Equipment
Obtaining and properly fitting the necessary safety equipment prior to the first entry of a confined space is essential. The proper equipment makes entry and exit significantly easier, and also provides safety measures that will allow an individual to be removed from the situation quickly if needed.
Knowledge of Potential Hazards
Knowing what, if any, potential hazards may exist in the confined space will help workers and rescuers prepare themselves for entry. If there are gas lines or other potential hazards close to the space that may cause leakage, fumes, or even flooding of the confined space, the individuals entering should be aware of such hazards prior to entry. This allows them to thoroughly prepare and take the necessary equipment with them in the event of a rescue situation.
Training for anyone involved in entering the confined space should be conducted regularly, and should involve them walking through the entry process following all steps of the written procedures that have been created for this particular confined space entry. It is important that training is refreshed on a regular basis so that when something negative occurs, people know how to properly react. Walking through the processes and performing them on a routine basis will help to facilitate this.
What sets the professionals in entry of confined spaces apart from those who wind up injured — or worse — is preparation and training. Professionals know that training makes the difference between an injury-free day and one where a rescue is needed. Providing proper training and having everything from entry procedures to exit procedures and what to do if a worker becomes unresponsive in a confined space make a significant impact on whether or not a work site remains injury and accident-free.