The dangers of working in a confined space knowing about the dangers of confined spaces can make entries and exits safer. While some confined space dangers can be obvious–such as becoming trapped–other potential perils aren’t as obvious.
Atmospheric hazards in play
Low oxygen, noxious gases and other problems can plague the air and atmosphere of a closed space. Even a previously habitable area can become inhabitable once something unexpected has occurred, and the use of some tools and processes can create noxious gases that simply aren’t able to escape. Flammable gases can also escape into such a space, making the use of typical tools downright deadly.
Engulfment and entrapment
In enclosed spaces, engulfment is when someone is captured by a flowable solid substance or liquid and is at risk of aspirating that liquid or substance. This can suffocate a person by filling or plugging their respiratory system, or the substance can exert such force on a person that they are suffocated, crushed, strangled or constricted. An engulfment risk should be isolated or eliminated before a person enters a space, but if it arises, having a rescue team experienced in this area and on standby is necessary.
With potential entrapment in an area, there is an internal design that could asphyxiate or trap someone entering it, such as a floor that is sloping down to taper into a smaller cross-section or walls that converge inward. Additionally, entrapment may occur when there is a mechanical hazard–such as an auger–that could incapacitate or seriously injure a person in the enclosed space. As with engulfment, any potential entrapment situation should be isolated or eliminated before anyone enters the area, and you should have a team in place that is able to deal with such a scenario should it arise.
Heat stress among workers
In confined spaces, temperatures can soar for a variety of reasons. Limited movement of the air, high levels of humidity and the general temperature of the space can all add up to an emergency. People in intense heat can quickly become weak, sick and pass out. In these types of cases, quick and safe extraction is needed so the affected worker can be brought into cooler air and receive prompt medical care.
Fall hazards in the space
Even the most vetted enclosed space could have an undetected fall hazard, or something unexpected could cause a fall. As with other hazards, prompt action can make all the difference in the outcome when someone falls in an enclosed space.
With all the inherent dangers of working in an enclosed space, safety has to be given the utmost priority. Have an experienced rescue team ready to handle rescues from confined spaces no matter what type of situation is at hand to ensure the safety of everyone entering the enclosed area at all times. If you have not yet chosen your dedicated rescue team, it’s time to start looking for an experienced provider who can handle your company’s safety needs.