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Confined space safety awareness — Five reasons people die in confined space

Here are five reasons people die in a confined space:

  1. They don’t recognize a confined space: A confined space has limited or obstructed exits. Are not  intended to be occupied on a regular basis and may contain a hazardous atmosphere or other hazards.
  2. They trust their senses: We think that if a space looks safe, it is safe. But most hazardous atmospheres are invisible. You cannot see, taste or smell most toxic and deadly atmospheres.
  3. Complacency: Before you finish reading a simple eighteen word sentences like this one, methane gas can knock you out. Exposure to some organic vapors may not kill you until the next day.
  4. They do not stay on guard: Often, a person will forget that a hazard may develop after they have entered a space. Testing for the space must be an ongoing process, not just before someone enters.
  5. They try to rescue other people: It is human nature to help a person in trouble. But the fact is that untrained rescuers often die along with the victim they are trying to save.

A Confined Space – per OSHA – is a space that: (1) Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; and (2) Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example, tanks, silos, storage bins, vaults and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry.); and (3) Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Entry permit means the written document that controls entry into a confined space. The site employer shall inform exposed employees by posting danger signs (DANGER — PERMIT-REQUIRED CONFINED SPACE, DO NOT ENTER) of the existence and location of the danger posed.

Atmospheric readings will continually be taken to monitor the environment. Read and review all of the manufacturer’s literature on the device before calibration and use. When testing for atmospheric hazards, test first for oxygen, then for combustible gases and vapors, and then for toxic gases and vapors. An employee who enters the space shall have an opportunity to observe the pre-entry testing and request additional monitoring at any time.

Manholes and Large Transformers – Procedure for Entry:  Before any employee enters a manhole, the following action must be taken – The manhole must be monitored for a Permissible Entry Level (P.E.L.) for oxygen.  The level must be at least 19.5%, and cannot exceed 23%.  The manhole must be monitored for a Lower Explosion Level (L.E.L.).  Above 10% is unacceptable for entry.  The manhole must be monitored for Hydrogen Sulfide.  The maximum allowable for entry is 10 ppm.

In the event any personnel require assistance or rescue from the confined space, summon immediate help, do not to enter the confined space.