There is a lot to consider when working or managing confined spaces. Do you know where the confined spaces are? What are the dangers in those spaces? How can you control those hazards to allow work to be done safely? Who will be able to do the work and how much training do they need? Do you need specialized equipment? Will you need respiratory protection or breathing apparatus? How will you determine if the atmosphere is safe?
There are many people involved in planning work within confined spaces.Those roles could include; workers involved in conducting hazard identification and risk assessments; those who will enter space; the person on duty who will monitor the workers while they are in the space; the competent person who will have overall responsibility for all aspects of the entry; the issuer of the permit; those responsible for isolating plants and equipment, including potential stored energy sources; workers responsible for testing atmospheres; those involved in the supply of equipment to be used in confined space work and any worker who may be involved in conducting confined space rescues.
Since work in confined spaces can be quite complicated and contain many different hazards, it is essential that all those who may be involved in any of the work-related aspects have adequate training for their role. This training can range from a confined space awareness course to safely entering and working within confined spaces, testing atmospheres for gases, operating breathing apparatus, or performing confined space rescue.
- Do your research: Before doing any work, you will need to establish whether a space meets the definition of a confined space. Regulations, standards, and code of practice provide clear definitions of what constitutes a confined space.
- Prepare: implement control measures to reduce risks. Develop a confined space management plan and work procedures to be followed by all workers who will be involved in the job.
- Enter and work in the enclosed space – Work in accordance with issued permits and specific work procedures related to the task or site.
- Rescue plan: any work that involves entering a confined space is dangerous and we must have an effective plan for the rescue of workers.
Analyzing each point a little more:
Once you have evaluated the space and the work to be done, you can identify hazards, assess risks, and develop control measures. All of this will be part of the confined space management plan and will form the basis for developing more specific work procedures. Proper planning is essential to working safely in confined spaces.
2. Get ready
This should include ventilating the space, testing oxygen levels and potential hazards in the atmosphere, isolating the hazards, completing permits, and gathering the necessary equipment to access and perform the work.
In addition, prior to commencing work, the competent person must also ensure that the workers who will be involved in the work have the current appropriate training to enter confined spaces and are competent and fit to perform the required tasks.
3. Enter and work in the confined space.
An effective communication system must be in place that allows communication between the workers in the space and the person on hold who continuously monitors the workers. The person on hold must continuously monitor the workers in the space and have the ability to sound the alarm in an emergency, and if possible initiate rescue procedures.
Continuous monitoring of the atmosphere should also be done while working in space. Work in confined spaces may also require specialized tools and equipment, such as being intrinsically safe so as not to provide an ignition source, or the use of respirators specific to the hazards detected.
4. Rescue plan
Any work involving confined space entry must have a rescue plan that has been developed, tested to show that it will be effective, rehearsed to ensure that the people who can perform the task are competent and confident to perform the role, and implemented in confined space. management plan. Workers must be trained to ensure that they are competent in all the required elements that may be encountered with their particular type of confined space work, and the competent person must ensure that those workers are fit for the duties that may be required of them. perform.
How can we determine our reduced space requirements on our site? What training will be required? Who will need to be trained? What equipment will you need to obtain? How could we provide a rescue for our workers?