A confined space is large enough for a worker to enter and work in but has a narrow and restricted entry and exit point. It is not meant to be occupied continuously and most of the time there are no people inside a confined space. Tunnels, wells, manholes, cold storages, ship holds, sub cellars, tanks, culverts, silos, vaults, and open ditches are examples of confined spaces.
Workers work inside confined spaces in many industries, namely construction, mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation and storage, and food and beverage industries.
Confined spaces may contain hazards such as an explosive or flammable atmosphere, harmful fumes, gases, and vapours. Such spaces may also contain free-flowing solids, or liquids may continuously flow into and drain from them. They may also have excessively high concentrations of oxygen or high temperature.
Because a confined space is enclosed, working inside it is hazardous. Unless workers are equipped with the correct PPE that helps them enter, safely work inside, and exit, they may suffer injury and/or death if something goes wrong whilst in the confined space.
Confined Space Hazards in the Construction Industry
In the construction industry for example workers often work inside confined spaces like manholes, tanks, crawl spaces, trenches, and drainage pipes. Because these spaces are not meant to be occupied continuously, should an emergency arise, exiting them safely will prove difficult.
Workers inside such confined spaces face life-threatening hazards from toxic substances and explosions. Also, without proper PPE, they may be electrocuted or suffer asphyxiation.
To safely enter, work inside, and exit such spaces workers must be equipped with suitable PPE and be supported by a well-trained work crew outside the space.
Confined Space Hazards in the Mining Industry
Workers in confined spaces such as mines face hazards that can only be mitigated using suitable PPE and measures that ensure safe entry and exit.
Inside mines workers face hazards from flammable, explosive, combustible agents. The atmosphere inside mines may also be hazardous. A mine where oxygen content in the atmosphere is less than 19.5% or greater than 20% by volume is hazardous to occupy.
Other hazards such as the accumulation of contaminants in the atmosphere such as gases, vapours, dust or mists, and fumes can lead to acute health problems and pose a danger to workers’ lives. The aforementioned hazards may also make it harder for workers to exit confined spaces unaided.
Confined Spaces Hazards in the Oil and Gas Industry
Workers in the oil and gas industry continually work in confined spaces. They enter confined spaces for maintenance and inspections. They face hazards such as toxic gases and vapours, flammable gases and vapours, and exposure to oxygen-deficient or oxygen-rich atmospheres.
They also face hazards such as loud noise and low visibility.
Again, proper training and use of PPE equipment is essential in maintaining safety in this environment.
Proper use of PPE in confined spaces
PPE makes working in confined spaces safe. There are variety of products that can assist in making these environments a safer place to work in.
Safety spectacles, helmets, facemasks, safety workwear, earplugs, earmuffs, safety shoes, and safety gloves are essential PPE that workers wear when working in confined spaces.
Confined space entry equipment like tripods help workers enter and exit confined spaces safely, and reduce the risk of injury and fatality.
Equipping workers with PPE however, isn’t enough – they must be trained to use the equipment effectively and correctly. Without training, teams working in confined spaces will come to harm.
KARAM Industries manufactures PPE that meets stringent global standards thereby equipping workers with PPE that ensures they remain safe inside confined spaces.
Driven by the zeal to keep workers safe, KARAM Industries employs a large research and development team which is constantly striving to improve on already stringent manufacturing processes, to ensure the quality of every unit produced.
They are also continuously innovating, to make working in confined spaces safer than ever.
Article supplied by Karam Africa – www.karamafrica.com