Safety Spotlight: Confined Spaces

Confined spaces can be deadly.

Each year, a number of people are killed or seriously injured in confined spaces. This happens in a wide range of industries and includes those working in confined spaces, and those who try to rescue them.

Our hearts go out to the three workers who died last weekend while working in a confined space in Key Largo, and volunteer firefighter, Leonardo Felipe Moreno, who is in critical condition after attempting to rescue one of the workers. 

A confined space can be any enclosed area where there is risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions.

OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” to describe a confined space with one or more of the following characteristics:

  • contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area that could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
  • contains other recognized safety or health hazards, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires or heat stress

Dangers of confined spaces can include:

  • lack of oxygen
  • poisonous gases, fumes or vapors
  • liquids, solids or gases that can suddenly fill the space or release gases into it
  • fires and explosions from flammable vapors and excess oxygen
  • dust present in high concentrations
  • hot conditions leading to a dangerous increase in body temperature

Follow these rules to ensure your safety and the safety of others!

  1. Monitor the atmosphere
  2. Eliminate or control hazards
  3. Ventilate the space
  4. Use proper PPE
  5. Isolate the space
  6. Know the attendant’s role
  7. Be prepared for rescues with external equipment and a rescue crew
  8. Use good lighting and have backup lighting on-hand
  9. Plan for emergencies
  10. Keep communication constant

We Put The “P” In Power

Photo by Paul Del Favero

U.S. Submergent Technologies recently completed a job at a power plant in northeast FL. Paul Stephenson, Kyle Manchester, Michael Kisling, Marcus Purvis and Paul Del Favero of Florida Service Group removed approximately 160 yards of a fine-grained, powdery particulate material from a settling basin in submerged conditions. 

How To Tell If You Have a Sand & Grit Problem

Sand and grit is a common problem in most wastewater treatment facilities and often accumulates as a result of pipe infiltration/inflow. Since we cannot see the accumulated material without draining the tank, the problem often goes unnoticed. This can greatly increase energy costs while reducing the treatment efficiency of the wastewater system. The energy costs can be significantly increased when diffusers are partially or completely covered by sand.

How can you tell — without seeing the accumulation of sand and grit on the bottom — that it is causing problems in your wastewater treatment system? 

  • Flow increases significantly following rainfall events.
  • Higher energy costs — this is because the blowers or diffusers in your tanks need to run more to keep accumulated sand suspended so the bottom diffusers do not become covered and unusable, causing them to work overtime.
  • System test results for BOD, TSS and Nitrates will worsen due to decreased treatment volume, which can mean lower quality effluent. 

Removal of sand and grit is necessary for restoring capacity to wet infrastructures, improving treatment efficiency and reducing energy costs. 

The following graphic illustrates how sand and grit go unnoticed:

Happy New Year!

Here’s Looking at You, 2016

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday with your loved ones and all the best in 2017!

Hard Hat and a Hammer

Florida Service Group is removing material from a power plant in Florida.

SAFETY FIRST: Training Like It’s Our Job (Because It Is.)

Michael Kisling, Robert Rash, Kyle Manchester and Paul Stephenson practice administering CPR. 

We’re proud of Florida Service Group and their commitment to staying safe through additional OSHA and First Aid training. Last week, they practiced performing the critical skills needed to respond to and manage an emergency until emergency medical help arrives. 

Golf Tournament Raises Funds for Breast-Cancer Research

Kirk Roberts, Randy Cordrey, George Palenzuela and Harry Fritz

U.S. Submergent Technologies sponsored — and WON! — the first annual Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Employees Golf Challenge benefiting Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. The event raised $11,400. Way to go, guys!