Safety Spotlight: Confined Spaces

US SubmergentSafety4 Comments

A red warning sign with the words "Danger, Confined Space, Enter by Permit Only"

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

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4 Comments on “Safety Spotlight: Confined Spaces”

  1. Avatar

    You make a great point that confined spaces can cause a lot of issues because there can be safety and health hazards. I appreciate that you say it is important to have a permit and that you should try to eliminate and control hazards. Also, the fact that you should have a rescue plan in place and safety training is really important because then all of the employees will know what to do in case of an emergency. If I was a business owner and had a confined space, I would make sure to do training often and make sure the training is quality.

  2. Avatar

    I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about getting a rescue service. She is thinking about getting this service in case there is an accident. It might nice to know that they are able to contain hazardous stuff.

  3. Avatar

    It’s good to know more about confined space. I had no idea that people die each year being in these spaces. That makes me think that it’s important to have training and what not on how to be safe.

  4. Avatar

    Thanks for pointing out that confined spaces can be any enclosed area where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions. I would imagine that any industrial facility would want to avoid incidents that can affect their operations. I think they should consider getting trusted responders who can provide confined space rescue in case they need professionals who can ensure alignment with regulatory standards.

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