Working in confined spaces?
People like to ask "What are Confined Spaces"
Are they small spaces? Are they tight spaces?
No. Confined Spaces can be big, small, long
Then what is the definition of a Confined Space?
A confined space is one which is both enclosed, or largely enclosed, and which also has a reasonably foreseeable risk to workers of fire, explosion, loss of consciousness, asphyxiation or drowning.
In some definitions, Confined Spaces are
- no natural ventilation
- no natural lighting
- not meant or designed for occupation by people (they were designed for product, substances, etc)
- entry and access to and from the confined space is limited
What are the examples of confined spaces?
Silos, vats, drums, exchangers, sewers, tanks, vessels
Some tanks can be small and tight. Some tanks can be as large as 30m height and able to fit even a plane inside (just for illustration)
What are the hazards confined spaces?
Working in a confined space is dangerous because of the risks from noxious fumes, reduced oxygen levels, or a risk of fire.
What are the other dangers of confined spaces?
Other dangers may include flooding/drowning or asphyxiation from some other source such as dust, grain or other contaminant.
What should you have to do?
With the hierarchy of controls- the best is eliminate the need to enter confined space.
Wherever possible, you should avoid carrying out tasks in confined spaces. An example is COW (Cargo Oil Washing machines) in cargo oil tanks. So there is little need to enter a cargo oil tank.
There are other control measures like
if a confined space has noxious fumes, you should consider how these can be ventilated or removed
if there is a risk of liquids or gases flooding in, you should establish whether the valves can be locked shut
if someone is going into a confined space and there is not enough oxygen to breathe properly, you must provide breathing apparatus or ventilate the space to increase oxygen levels before entering
You should have emergency arrangements where necessary. If someone is working in a confined space, think about the following:
Can you see or feel dangerous fumes or vapours?
No some fumes and vapours are not visible or dont even have a smell.
You cannot rely on your own senses to know if its safe or not safe. This is why people use Gas Detectors when entering or working in Confined Spaces
Dos and don'ts of working in confined spaces
Be aware of the risks that may occur within a confined space
make sure the person doing the work is capable and trained in both the work and the use of any emergency equipment
work in confined spaces unless it's essential to do so
ignore the risks – just because a confined space is safe one day doesn't mean it will always be let others enter a confined space until you are sure it's safe to do so
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