According to data collected by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program, fatal injuries in confined spaces average 92 fatalities per year - almost two per week!
The causes of most confined space entry incidents are employer and worker failure to recognize and control the hazards associated with confined spaces. Pre-planning for confined space entry should include all parties involved and should serve the purpose of reviewing entry procedures as well as covering specific hazards inherent to the spaces being entered.
Confined spaces can be deadly because of the potential for engulfment, oxygen deficiency, oxygen enrichment, flammable gases or vapors, combustible dusts, toxic substances and other physical hazards. Other possible hazards include electrical equipment, mechanical equipment, poor visibility, biohazards, claustrophobia, noise, radiation and temperature.
Preventing Occupational Fatalities in Confined Spaces requires:
Worker Training - Recognition of what constitutes a confined space and the hazards that may be encountered there are a must. This training should stress that death to the worker is the likely outcome if proper precautions are not taken before an entry is made.
Confined Space Testing - Must be done by a qualified person before an entry to determine whether the confined space atmosphere is safe for entry. Tests should be made for oxygen level, flammability, and known or suspected toxic substances.
Continuous Monitoring - Should be undertaken not only from the entry, but also from inside where the work is being conducted to determine whether the space has changed due to the work performed.
Confined space entry is a common work practice within the work we do at Wachs. It is not only in our best interest, but our clients’ interest as well, to ensure the work goes right.
Review our procedure prior to beginning work and follow it, not just for the letter of the law but for the wellbeing of your Team.
For more vital information on this topic, please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!
Our prayers are with the families and team members of those killed and injured in the PCA explosion. A follow-up can be found here: Derider Facility Explosion