Confined Space Hazards and How to Minimize Them – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Confined Space Hazards and How to Minimize Them


Certain industries have unique working environments called confined spaces. These spaces necessitate strict compliance with regulation standards for the health and safety of the employees. That’s why individuals who work in these spaces must receive confined space training

Confined spaces are essential to the functional operation of different industries, including construction, mining, and agriculture. However, they also come with risks of hazards that are often life-threatening. Anyone working in such spaces needs to be aware of specific industry risks. They can then utilise knowledge from their Alertforce training to navigate or even prevent potential dangers.

Confined Space Hazards

What Is a Confined Space?

A confined space is a work site that's large enough for an employee to gain entry and complete their work task. These spaces are characterized by their limited entry and exit points. They are also not designed for continuous human occupancy. Tanks, tunnels, and sewers are some examples of confined spaces. 

Confined Space Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimated that around 5,800 non-fatal incidents related to confined spaces occur annually in the U.S. The number of fatal incidents is over 1000 yearly. These figures emphasize the necessity of adhering to safety standards when working in confined spaces. Some common confined space hazards include:

Lack of Oxygen 

Confined spaces often have poor ventilation. With an extended stay in these spaces, carbon dioxide builds up, and there's a reduction in oxygen levels. This can cause dizziness and even loss of consciousness.

Toxic Substances 

Confined spaces often require working with substances that release toxic fumes. These toxic substances can be inhaled in these spaces, resulting in asphyxiation or poisoning.

Explosive Substances 

Another danger of confined spaces is that flammable gases or vapors can accumulate there, increasing the risk of explosion. Also, the presence of oxygen can ignite explosions, as oxygen supports the combustion of flammable substances.

Physical Hazards

Flooding, narrow tunnels, and slippery surfaces are common dangers in confined spaces. These physical barriers restrict access to confined spaces in emergency cases. 

Extremes of Temperature

Extreme hot or cold temperatures are a risk to workers in confined spaces. There's an increase in the risk of heat stroke or hypothermia.

How to Minimize Confined Space Hazards?

Some steps are necessary to minimise the risks associated with confined spaces:

Restricted Access and Emergency Preparedness

A permit system is necessary for confined space entry. Only properly trained workers can gain access to the site. These workers must be aware of the hazards involved and possess up-to-date knowledge of safe work practices. For emergencies, they must know first aid administration and what rescue protocols to initiate. 

Supervisors

During operations, the supervisor must remain outside the confined space. They must maintain communication with workers inside and have a thorough knowledge of rescue protocols.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Workers entering confined spaces should wear appropriate personal protective clothing (PPE). Wearing a breathing apparatus in poor ventilation can prevent respiratory difficulties and inhaling noxious fumes. Rescue tripods, harnesses, and safety goggles are also necessary, depending on the nature of the work and the confined space. 

Conclusion

Confined spaces can pose a danger to health and life. Proper safety procedures can minimize or eliminate these risks. Always conduct a risk assessment before entering a confined space to identify potential hazards. If you're unsure about the safety of a confined space, do not enter.