For the safety of everyone in your workplace, any confined spaces on the premises must be identified, catalogued and analyzed. There are inherent risks and hazards associated with confined spaces, and if you haven’t given yours enough thought, it could lead to a disaster scenario down the road.
As you consider your confined spaces, keep the following points in mind to keep your staff and business safe.
You and your staff need to know your spaces well
You should, at a minimum, know where your confined spaces are and what type of hazards they pose. All of your employees should have this knowledge as well, even if they don’t ever plan on entering one. Any staff member who is going to enter a confined space should know the space’s details in full, and they should also know how to safely enter and exit it. Never allow untrained staff to enter a confined space, and set up a system that limits access to the space to the proper personnel only.
If you’ve never had your spaces evaluated for hazards by trained professionals, now is the time to do so. It’s essential these spaces are tested and evaluated by trained workers so you and your employees have a clear idea of all the potential hazards it poses now and could pose in the future, particularly in the midst of a confined space rescue operation.
You must keep exits and entrances clear
The exit and entry path to a confined space has to be kept clear at all times. This sounds simple, but it can be tough when items of machinery need to enter the space for work reasons. This is why all staff working in or near the space should know just how to enter and exit in a safe manner where there is more restricted or limited access.
In addition to having clear entry and exit paths, you must set rules and regulations for anyone entering that space. This includes time schedules for safe entry in spaces that have periods where entry would be dangerous due to the conditions inside.
You need a confined space rescue plan
Having a confined space emergency endangers not only the worker who needs help; those coming to their rescue can be in danger if they are not properly trained for rescues as well. Therefore, you need to have an experienced confined space rescue team at the ready for any emergencies that may arise. Everyone on the ground in your business should also know whom to contact in an emergency and how. When a worker is in trouble, just a brief delay in response could have devastating consequences for that worker.
If you don’t have a trained rescue team in your workplace, you can hire an outside firm to provide you with emergency confined space rescue services. You can also reach out to an experienced rescue service provider to arrange for safety training for your staff. Even if you have had training in the past, this is something that should be done regularly to keep your workers up to date and refreshed in their knowledge.