Essential Safety Practices for Working in Confined Spaces

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There are unique hazards and challenges when it comes to working in confined spaces and this requires careful planning and preparation. You need to adhere to safety protocols so that the health and wellbeing of workers can be protected.

A thorough risk assessment has to be carried out

So that potential hazards can be identified. Once the particular hazards have been identified, appropriate control measures can be put in place. You have to first determine which areas of the working site qualify as a confined space. Some of the hazards that you will face are atmospheric hazards, biological hazards and physical hazards. The existing control measures should be assessed for their effectiveness and you need to check whether additional precautions are needed to mitigate the particular risks identified. The workers should have confined space entry training which will include comprehensive training in recognising hazards, safety procures and emergency response. The workers should be taught how to enter and exit the confined spaces safely. This will include the use of personal protective equipment. The workers should have the training to use atmospheric monitoring equipment such as gas detectors so that they can detect hazardous gases and monitor their levels. The level of oxygen in the confined space should be assessed as well.

There should be comprehensive instruction provided

On emergency response protocols such as procedures for evacuating the area, techniques for rescuing workers and providing first aid or CPR. The workers should also be proficient when it comes to operating specialised equipment needed to enter a confined space such as hoists, ventilation systems and retrieval devices. The workers should have the right certification and authorisation to perform their duties. The access to confined spaces should be managed by having strict entry control procedures in place. There has to be a permit-to-work system where formal authorisation is needed before entering the confined space. This permit will include control measures, specific hazards and emergency procedures for the entry. There has to be an entry supervisor that will oversee the confined space operations such as carrying out atmospheric monitoring, pre-entry checks and emergency response. There should be proper barricades that will mark the confined space along with warning signs to prevent unauthorised personnel from entering the space. There should be lockout/tagout procedures so that energy sources can be controlled. This will prevent accidentally activating machinery or equipment within the confined space during entry.

The atmospheric conditions inside the confined space should be monitored consistently

There has to be baseline testing of these conditions before entering so that a reference for comparison can be established. The gas detecting and monitoring equipment should be regularly calibrated and maintained so that you can ensure the accuracy of the readings. Ventilation is important so that air quality can be improved within the confined space. There can be mechanical ventilation so that fresh air can be circulated within the space while removing hazardous gases. Before entering the space, the area has to be purged and ventilated so that any residual gases or contaminants are removed.

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