A confined space, by definition, is an enclosed area that was not designed for human entrance. Due to its very nature, it is risky to go inside a confined place. It can prove to be fatal if adequate precautions are not taken. Australian regulation only allows a person with a license in confined space training to enter a confined space.
Confined spaces include manholes, pipelines, tanks, vessels, storage bins, and other areas with low oxygen concentration and narrow entrances and exits. A confined site can contain hazardous gas, deep water to engulf a person, toxic elements that can asphyxiate an entrant.
Needless to say, proper guidelines must be followed while entering an area like this. Here we have listed five safety guidelines to follow while carrying out risky works.
Use external methods: –
Before entering a confined space, double-check whether it is absolutely necessary. If the work can be done another way, it is advisable not to enter the confined place. Better work planning can obliterate the necessity to enter a hazardous site.
You can clear a blockage by using remotely operated vibrators or air washers. You can use remote control vibrators to inspect vessels inside the place. Furthermore, modern equipment allows you to monitor cleaning operations inside the confined space.
If it’s unavoidable to enter a confined place, you must first run a safety check on the place by a professional expert. A detailed report should identify the conditions under which someone will be going down there. It must also include safety precautions and emergency evacuation plans.
A professional expert means a competent person who is above 18 years old and trained in these procedures. That person must be a registered safety officer with a proper license. Additionally, the officer must also possess a minimum of a year of work experience after receiving the registration.
Remove any potentially hazardous material from the confined space and its surrounding. Clean the pipelines properly to ensure that dangerous gas, vapor, fume, or dust cannot enter the confined place while your workers are inside.
If you use steam cooling to clean the space of sludges and other deposits, allow enough time for cooling. Cut off the power supplies of equipment and machines that might cause any damage inside the confined place.
The people entering the confined space must be trained in proper protocols. Proper drill under an expert will ensure that your employees know what to do in case of an emergency. A supervising officer must inspect whether the guidelines and protocols are correctly followed.
The person entering the space must be a certified worker fulfilling all the guidelines for entering a confined space. They must be fit to wear the breathing apparatus and have sufficient experience to carry on such kind of work. You need to confirm that they don’t have any medical condition which might prove fatal once they go inside.
A sound evacuation should be in place for your workers’ safety. What does a proper evacuation plan look like? Your workers inside the confined space must be wearing a safety hook attached with a rope outside. The other person holding the free end must be physically strong enough to pull him out. The Australian government confined space guide requires the evacuator to remain out of the enclosed place throughout the work schedule.
Carefully check if the entrance is big enough for your workers to go inside with the breathing apparatus and if it is large enough to allow your workers to get out quickly in case of an emergency. If the entrance is narrow, instead of using the self-contained kit, it is advisable to use the air-line breathing apparatus.
The latter is an absolute necessity if they need to stay for longer hours as carrying heavy breathing equipment is tiresome and might cause respiratory problems. But, while using an air-line breathing system, you also need to keep a backup line in case the primary one fails.
Workers in the water and sewer treatment plants and mining operations frequently need to enter inside confined areas. If your job requires you to perform such tasks, we hope that our detailed tips have given you an idea of what needs to be done.