Working in a confined space means that the worker has just enough room to enter the space, perform their duties, and come back out again. Working in things like Tanks, Vessels, Silos, Manholes, Pipes, Pits, etc are the best-suited examples of confined environments.
As you can guess, these jobs are pretty scary, as fatal incidents often occur. However, do you know that 85% of the time, such incidents happen even in the presence of a supervisor? So if you’re running a company where your employees are supposed to work in a confined space, or if you’re a confined-space worker yourself, you need to step up for your or your employees’ safety.
Wondering how? We will make it easier for you. In the next section, we will divide this topic into 2 parts. DOs and DON’Ts while working in a confined environment. Keep reading these tips to know.
First, we will discuss the important measures that things that you should keep in mind before performing in a confined place. So, let us discuss the Dos.
Do: Ensure the Training
You must ensure that your employees get proper and quality training. Working on a site is much different than working in a controlled environment. Also, the workers selected should be physically fit.
If someone is sick or not feeling well physically, he or she must be kept away from the task for his or her well-being. Specially abled people should not be selected for the task.
Do: Know About the Hazards
Before you start in any confined space, it’s very important to know the underlying health hazards of working there.
Common problems include toxic chemical fumes, flooding, drowning, flammable air, and lack of oxygen.
So depending on the kind of work you’re assigned, you must research the job description beforehand and check if you’ll be able to do it or not. Say yes to a job only if you’re confident about yourself and your capabilities. There is no need to carry out work that you don’t feel confident about.
Do: Check Out the Space First
If you have employees who are supposed to enter the confined place and work there, you must hire and deploy a competent and professional team to enter prior to anybody else and ensure that it’s fit for work.
It’s illegal in many countries for workers to work in a narrow trench without an authorized team giving the green signal. And even if it is legal in your country, still you should follow this measure to ensure the safety of precious lives of the workers.
Talk to your local authorities and determine who can give the required permissions after confirming a healthy atmosphere and doing risk assessments per guidelines. The lives of workers are as much precious as the officials.
Do: Keep Someone Posted at the Entry
You should also deploy standby personnel at the entrance of the confined space who will be responsible for preparing and maintaining a log of all the people working inside the confined places with their names, the time of their entry, as well as their exit timings, etc.
You can even put up a tagboard at the entry point to make it easier for the person posted at the entry.
He or she needs to be in regular contact and communicate with the workers regularly and ensure that everyone working inside is getting adequate air, water, and other supplies.
Do: Have a Backup Plan
No matter how careful you and your team are, chances of a mishappening always exist. In this situation, make sure you keep your mind calm and think of a solution. You must have a backup plan or an escape plan in case of an emergency.
For example, if your workers are supposed to work in a zone of low oxygen, and one of them suddenly faints, you need to have an exit plan to evacuate that person and place someone else in their position.
Furthermore, you need to provide proper breathing supplies like an oxygen mask, tank, and safety helmets. These are some basic apparatus that you must have in your work site to avoid any kind of mishappening or loss of life.
After discussing the DOs of performing tasks in a confined place, it is time to discuss the things to prevent working in a cramped space.
Don’t: Work Without Supervision
No matter how many safety checks they have done, having a supervisor at the work site is always important. A supervisor on a work site is like a guide to a traveler.
Without a licensed supervisor, nobody should enter or exit a confined space. In addition, a supervisor will be there to take care of things in case someone falls ill or if there’s a shortage of the necessary equipment.
In many cases, the supervisor will also keep a check on the blood pressure, blood sugar, and oxygen levels of the workers. They are specially trained for the situations like these.
Don’t: Work If You are Unwell
Take a day off from work if you have a slight fever, breathing problems, or some other form of a medical emergency. Or if you are the head, provide your worker with leave until he or she recovers from the disease.
As discussed before, you or your employee must be confident about his or her condition that he or she can carry out the project without any health hazards. Even if you feel that you’re fit overall, it’s advised not to go down into a confined space and work for hours in a place with a scarcity of oxygen and water.
You never know when your symptoms might start to act up again; by then, your medical condition can worsen. Remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, even if you get your wages deducted, it’s alright to care for your body!
Don’t: Send in Workers Without Training
One of the employers’ biggest mistakes is sending untrained workers into confined spaces.
It’s crucial to make every single employee undergo confined space training to learn how to manoeuvre themselves in a tight situation.
If you ask an amateur to work in narrow places without providing them with the basics of confined space training, you can get yourself into a pickle and even cause injury to the worker in question. In training, they teach about every aspect and situation while working on the site.
Even if your workers claim to be trained, you never know how much they learned in the last course. So, it’s better to retrain them to prevent any mishappening! It’s not just about the ethic. Even from the legal point of view, you might get taken into custody for not ensuring the proper training of the workers working on the site.
Over to You…
There are various jobs out there that are risky and adventurous. These jobs are not very comfortable and safe, which is why most part of the population avoids involving in these tasks and projects. But somehow, these jobs need to be done. That is where our brave workers take control.
This work includes functioning in serious and confined places. Cleaning manholes, mining, working inside pits, etc. are some examples of these risky jobs. While performing tasks in confined spaces is dangerous, it forms an integral part of every society. So as an employer or an employee, it’s your duty to ensure safety protocols and ethical working conditions.