Confined Space Training
First lets find out if you are dealing with a "Confined Space" or "Confined Spaces"
In order for a work area to be defined as a confined space it must meet all three of the following criteria:
1) Confined Space or confined spaces are not meant or intended for Continuous Human Occupancy. This means that the confined space was designed to hold something other than people. Examples include tanks, cargo oil tank, cargo hold, double bottom tanks, diesel oil tanks, cofferdams, pump rooms, vessels, silos, pipelines and manholes. These confined spaces are not meant for continuous human occupancy - although people may enter to perform work in certain situations.
2) Confined Spaces have limited openings for entry and exit.
A confined space may be difficult to enter and perform repair work, or general maintenance. If something goes wrong while you are inside a confined space, escape/rescue may be difficult. Although some confined spaces have more than 1 entry or exit or escape point, that does not mean that is not a confined space. If the confined space has limited ways to get in and out, it could be a confined space.
2) The Space is not Intended for Continuous Human Occupancy. This means that the space was designed to hold something other than people. Examples include tanks and manholes.
3) Confined spaces have no natural ventilation and no natural lighting.
Confined Space requires Confined Space Entry Permits
What are confined space entry permits?
A confined space entry permit is a written safety checklist that is completed before you can enter into the confined space. A confined space entry permit ensures that all the hazards are removed from the confined space before you enter.
Confined space permits ask questions such as:
What is the purpose of entry into the confined space?
How much time will be spent working inside the confined space?
Who are the people authorized to enter the confined space?
Who will be the attendant that stays outside the confined space?
What are the atmospheric conditions in the confined space?
What are the methods of communication between people inside the confined space and people outside the space?
What kinds of equipment are being provided and used for safe entry?
Are there any additional safety checklists that need to be completed, such as a welding or burning permits?
How have you have eliminated the hazards before you enter the confined space ( lockout/tagout, forced air ventilation, etc.)?
Approved Confined Space Entry Permits are to be displayed on the outside the confined space while you are completing work inside the space. Once the confined space work is completed and the confined space is sealed, the confined space entry permit should be canceled and forwarded to the right persons.
What are the hazards in a confined space?
All hazards found in a regular workspace can also be found in a confined space. However, they can be even more hazardous in a confined space than in a regular worksite.
Hazards in confined spaces can include:
Atmospheric Hazards- lack of oxygen, presence of flammable vapors and presence of toxic vapors.
As confined spaces are not meant for continuous human occupancy and are designed primarily for other purposes, there may be an insufficient amount of oxygen for the worker to breathe. The atmosphere may also contain a toxic substance that could make the worker ill or even cause the worker to lose consciousness. This is made worse by the fact that there is no natural ventilation. Low oxygen levels (19.5 percent or less) can cause symptoms such as rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, clumsiness, emotional upset, and fatigue. As less oxygen becomes available, nausea and vomiting, collapse, convulsions, coma and death can occur. Unconsciousness or death could result within minutes following exposure to a simple asphyxiant.
There may be asphyxiants include argon, nitrogen, or carbon monoxide.
Chemical exposures due to skin contact or ingestion as well as inhalation of 'bad' air.
Within a confined space there could be explosive/flammable atmosphere due to flammable liquids and gases and combustible dusts which if ignited would lead to fire or explosion.
Process-related hazards such as residual chemicals, release of contents of a supply line.
Confined spaces also contain Physical Hazards
Physical hazards include noise, heat/cold, radiation, vibration, electrical, and inadequate lighting, mechanical hazards, engulfment, entrapment, slips, falls.
Confined spaces could also contain Biological Hazards
Biological hazards can be viruses, bacteria from fecal matter and sludge, fungi,or moulds.
Why is working in a confined space more hazardous than working in other workspaces?
Many factors need to be evaluated when looking for hazards in a confined space. There is smaller margin for error. An error in identifying or evaluating potential hazards can have more serious consequences.
The entrance/exit of the confined space may not not allow the worker to get out in time.
Self-rescue from a confined space by the worker is more difficult.
Rescue of the victim is more difficult in a confined space.
The interior configuration of the confined space often does not allow easy movement of people or equipment within it.
Confined spaces have no natural ventilation
Confined spaces may not allow easy movement of air.
Confined space conditions can change very quickly.
The space outside the confined space can impact on the conditions inside the confined space and vice versa.
Work activities inside a confined space may introduce hazards that were not present initially.
Lack of communication between the workers in the space, the attendant and the emergency response team.
Confined Space Training
It is mandatory that all personnel involved in Confined Space works must be adequately trained. In Singapore workers entering a confined space are known as entrants must attend the Perform Work in Confined Space Operation. The same for workers being assigned as Attendants or Watchmen, they too have to attend the Perform Work in Confined Space Operations. Supervisors must attend the Supervise Work in Confined Space Operation.
Details of the PWICSO Course
SSG WSQ Perform Work in Confined Space Operation (PWICSO)
This PWICSO course was formerly called Safety Orientation Course for Workers - Manhole SOCManhole or Manhole SOC. The SSG WSQ Perform Work in Confined Space Operation (PWICSO) is one of the core units in all process sectors of Process Industry.
People who should attend PWICSO are
Confined Space Entrant (includes manholes, tanks, vessels, etc)
Confined Space Attendant (includes manholes, tanks, vessels etc)
PWICSO Assumed Skills and Knowledge
PWICSO Learners will be able to listen, read, speak and write English at a proficiency level equivalent to the Employability Skills System (ESS) Level 2.
Course Outline for Perform Work in Confined Space Operations
for the SSG WSQ Perform Work in Confined Space Operation are
PWICSO Identify duties and responsibilities of all personnel involved in confined space work under the WSH Legislations and Code of Practice.
PWICSO Identify confined space hazards
PWICSO Use Gas Detection Instruments for atmospheric monitoring
PWICSO Comply with Permit-to-Work system and safe work procedures when working in confined space
PWICSO Participate in an Emergency for confined space
Find out more here