Limited access, cramped quarters, and hazardous materials – there is quite a bit at risk when it comes to working in most industrial environments. Sure, OSHA has their eye out. But at the end of the day, safety on the job site or facility is your responsibility. This means training, establishing protocols, and making sure your team has the proper tools and equipment to do their job safely.
Understanding Confined Spaces and Their Hazards
Confined spaces are always a hazard. The way in or out is usually a tight squeeze, and poor ventilation always presents potential breathing challenges. If you’re working with silos, vats, or utility tunnels, here are a few things you should worry about:
- Asphyxiation: Lack of oxygen or toxic gases can cause asphyxiation. Inhalation of toxic gas can lead to lung disease on a good day or death on a bad one.
- Entrapment: Narrow openings in confined spaces can trap workers if they are not careful.
- Exposure to Harmful Substances: It’s not just about breathing. Contact with the skin or eyes can be just as problematic.
Of course, there are ways to keep your employees safe in these conditions. At the most basic, essential level, you should:
- Conduct a Thorough Risk Assessment: Identify hazards, evaluate atmospheric conditions, and determine necessary safety measures.
- Create a Permit-Based Entry System: This will ensure that only authorized and properly trained personnel have access to hazardous spaces. The permit should detail safety precautions, rescue procedures, and the designated work duration.
- Ensure Proper Ventilation: Open a window. Or use air hoses to bring in fresh air or release toxic gases. Portable ventilation systems can also work alongside continuous air monitoring.
- Perform Continuous Air Monitoring: Keep a close eye on atmospheric conditions within the confined space. Your device should quickly alert your employees to sudden changes in air quality so they can get clear of the area.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Provide workers with appropriate PPE, such as gas detectors, harnesses, respiratory protection, and helmets.
- Train and Educate: Many hazardous gases are invisible, and you may not know how dangerous they are until it is too late. This is why all personnel involved in confined space entry should be trained in risks and correct procedures. Workers should be knowledgeable about safety equipment usage and rescue protocols.
- Create Rescue Plans and Stock Equipment: Develop well-defined rescue plans for emergencies. Ensure that rescue equipment, such as hoists, lifelines, and stretchers, is readily available and easily accessible.
Motus Group is proud to maintain a high standard of safety for every project we work on and every job site we visit. While we inspect sites to ensure they are within emission regulations, we also keep an eye out for potential safety hazards and bring them to our clients’ attention. Give us a call today to find out how we can support your facility – from repairs to retrofits and more.