Working in Confined Spaces

Working in a confined space is a unique and serious hazard. There is no halfway problem: Either there is or isn’t a problem. By one definition, a confined space is one that is large enough and arranged so that an employee can fully enter and work, has limited or restricted entry or exit and which is not primarily designed for human occupancy. Insert company policy. 

Primary Hazards:
– Oxygen deficiency.
– Exposure to toxic substances.
– Combustible or Explosive.

Safety Procedures:
– Test for oxygen deficiency.
– Sample for combustible gases. (Most combustible gas meters will not work in oxygen
deficient atmospheres.)
– Continually monitor for toxic substances (i.e., gases) as work progresses.

Making a Confined Space Workable:
– If space is unable to be vented, be use to provide proper respiration equipment.
– If space can be vented, continually flush out the space with fresh air.
– Be aware that spark producing equipment should never be used to flush out confined spaces.

Basic Rescue Procedures:
– Never rush to the aid of a fellow employee in a confined space.
– Always be sure that someone watches work in a confined space outside of the space.
– All workers in a confined space must work with a lifeline attached outside of the space.
– All rescuers must be competent in the use of rescue equipment and self-contained breathing units.

Remember: Confined spaces need not be dangerous places to work if the basic precautions are routinely followed. Remember that it is a rare circumstance that a single fatality occurs in a confined space; usually there are multiple fatalities.