Confined Space Training - Do your staff need it?

By Steve Brand | March 21, 2018



What are confined spaces?

Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.

OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

Working in a confined space can cause injuries and even fatalities, but fortunately statistics show that these can be avoided and that the most effective way to reduce the risk of danger is comprehensive health and safety training.

It is widely acknowledged that confined space training is required in specific industries such as firefighting but it is just as important in some other less obvious sectors too. Find out if you or your staff should be more qualified in your working environment.

Mining

Research has suggested that a large number of accidents are due to cave-ins or exposure to fumes within confined mining areas. Fortunately, the number of casualties can be greatly reduced by providing miners with knowledge of risk assessments and safe practice through effective confined space training.

Freight- storage and Shipping

Individuals working in the freight and storage industry should also be aware of the potential risks related to a confined space.

Freight containers, truck tanks and ships’ holds are just a few examples of a confined space that an employee from this industry may be required to enter.

Many companies provide equipment such as atmospheric monitors and breathing apparatus, but it is pivotal that all employees know how to fit, use and maintain the devices. Lack of knowledge and not following safety procedures can be disastrous and it is therefore of great importance that workers within the freight and storage industries are trained properly.

Construction

Whether they’re working on a residential or civil construction site it is important that the workforce are aware of the risks.

Common high-risk enclosed spaces include trenches, crawl spaces and drainage or sewerage pipes and these areas often present a variety of Occupation Health and Safety (OHS) risks. These hazards range from unsafe oxygen levels to wall collapses but fortunately they can all be prevented through proper training. Confined space training enables personal to identify foreseeable hazards and eliminate or control the risks related to them.

Sewage work

As mentioned briefly above, construction workers may have to enter drainage or sewerage pipes. Similarly, individuals working full time in this industry should also be aware of the risks. Confined space entry techniques are vital if you are planning on entering sewers or tanks for cleaning or maintenance within an oxygen deficient atmosphere.

Cleaning

Inspection, sampling and cleaning operations can often be done from the outside by using appropriate equipment and tools. However, situations do arise where the person cleaning may have to enter the confined space and it is important in these circumstances that they aware of any possible dangers.

Agriculture

Confined spaces like storage units for products such as grain, water tanks and manure pits are common on farms and other agricultural workplaces.

These areas of confined space and the materials, stock or equipment used or held in them often produce significant risks. For example, grains and other organic matter may absorb oxygen within silos creating a space where breathing may be difficult. Other common risks include carbon monoxide build up, poisoning and airborne diseases or contaminants.

Food and Beverage

The food and beverage industries also have a need for confined space training. Tanks, mixing vats, silos, storage bins and industrial ventilation points are all typical within the industry and come with similar risks to that of the agriculture sector.

Moreover, these spaces are not necessarily designed for people, but they are large enough for workers to enter to perform required tasks. The employer should therefore take the steps to ensure that employees are properly trained to prevent the risk of danger.

Advice for all industries

Regardless of the industry you work in, you should be aware of the risks that may occur when working within confined space. As an employer you have a duty of care to ensure that the person working is capable and trained, and as an employee you should be confident that you have the correct knowledge to complete a task within a confined space safely.

If in doubt we suggest enrolling on a confined space awareness course, as the common saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Seahaven Maritime Academy offers Confined Space training for all levels of risk including:-

If you would like more information on our Confined Space Courses then please get in touch.

Alternatively please click on the links above to go to the Seahaven Safety Training website to see course dates for each of our respective confined space courses.

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About The Author

Steve Brand
Managing Director

Steve is a highly experienced instructor with a long and impressive track record in safety-critical working environments. Training is much more than a job for him, it is a vocation and his dedication and care for his valued students is second to none.


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