NEWS: planning is essential in confined spaces

confined-space-training-news

Confined spaces—we’ve discussed the dangers of working in confined spaces, confined space training and the importance of choosing the right fall protection equipment on our blog before.

On Tuesday, November 20 in Uruguay, two shoreshide dock workers died and two were hospitalized after being exposed to a fumigant. Currently, the Uruguayan Navy is unsure which chemical caused the fatalities and injuries—however, it’s believed to be caused by the treatment phosphine, a fumigation gas used to control pests in agricultural and wood product cargoes. Phosphine is denser than air and can settle into low-lying pockets, reports the Maritime Executive.

Investigators say two dock workers from an independent company entered a freighter from Panama when they lost consciousness and collapsed—a crewmember say the dock workers struggle and entered the space wearing a face mask, but removed it while trying to rescue the workers. He also collapsed and is in the hospital in an induced coma. A third member of the company is also in hospital with injuries, reports the Maritime Executive.

According to the president of the Uruguayan Transport Union, Cesar Bernal, dock workers were not aware half of the ship’s cargo was treated with a fumigant. They followed their normal procedure for entering the space in the freighter, and were affected immediately by the fumes.

The industrial trades will benefit from improved communication regarding hazardous fumes, and more effective training regarding fall arrest and confined space entry and exit training. Something like an SRL (self-retracting lifeline) may help in a situation like this, where a worker can easily lift himself from a dangerous space. The National Institute for Occupational Health & Safety reports that 60% of confined space fatalities in coastal accidents are rescuers.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) recommends that employers develop a confined space hazard assessment and control program—especially since most workers in the industrial trades will work in a confined space at least once during their career. This program should be specific to the work being done, and employers may need to implement more than one program.

confined-space-training
A technician working offshore.

CCOHS recommends your plan include the following:

  • Description of roles and responsibilities of each person or party (e.g., employer, supervisor, workers, attendants, and emergency response team);
  • Advice on how to identify confined spaces;
  • Identification and assessment of all potential hazards that may exist at the beginning of the work as well as those that may develop because of the work activities;
  • A plan to eliminate or control all identified hazards;
  • Written work procedures;
  • Confined Space training program for all the workers that will enter confined spaces;
  • An entry permit system for each entry into a confined space;
  • Development of an emergency plan complete with training and equipment in case an unforeseen situation occurs;
  • An emergency response system;
  • Reporting and investigating incidents related to work in confined spaces;
  • Record and documentation control;
  • Program review whenever there is a change in circumstances or at least annually, to identify program weaknesses and make any necessary changes to the program.

Confined Space Training

Unfortunately, many injuries and fatalities are easy to prevent if the proper safety measures and plans are put into place. Give you and your employees the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in confined spaces. Browse information on our Confined Space Entry & Attendant, and more safety courses here.

 

References here: 
- https://maritime-executive.com/article/two-uruguayan-dockers-dead-in-confined-space-accident
- https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprograms/confinedspace_program.html

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Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

Confined Spaces: Hercules’ Safety Tips

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What is a Confined Space?

Confined spaces are present in nearly every industrial trade, and most workers will encounter at least one confined space during their career.

The OSHA states that nearly 90 deaths occur per year, across a range of industries involving confined spaces. Almost 2/3 of these fatalities are caused during an attempt to rescue someone in a confined space—having an efficient, established retrieval plan in place is essential to preventing death and injury.

A confined space is defined as a entirely or considerably enclosed space, where dangerous conditions are present due to lack of oxygen or hazardous substances.

What else constitutes a confined space? A space which is large enough for a person to enter or exit, has limited or restricted exits and isn’t designed for extended human occupancy. A confined space may have more than one opening, however—if a worker must climb through various obstacles to access the opening, this may be considered a confined space as well.

Confined spaces also may temporarily appear on a work site through construction, fabrication or modification. Tunnels, manholes and silos are all examples of confined spaces.

What is a Permit-Required Confined Space?

Not only are permit-required confined spaces difficult to enter, they present serious hazards like inadequate ventilation or noxious air. These include:

  • Hazardous atmosphere or potential for one;
  • Material, like grain that could engulf an individual;
  • Walls converging inwards, or floors sloping downward and tapering into a smaller area that could trap or asphyxiate an individual;
  • Any other recognized hazards, like unguarded machinery, heat stress, or a fall hazard.

These confined spaces present a great threat as they’re more likely to cause fatalities—a quick and simple exit, or rescue must be possible for workers in confined spaces. The safest rescue strategies involve no additional employees entering the space—retrieval equipment should be used unless unsafe to do so.

Confined Space Training

 

What Makes Confined Spaces Dangerous, Anyway?

Not only are confined spaces difficult to enter, exit and navigate, they present a series of other dangerous threats many workers may overlook. Dangers commonly present themselves when welding, painting, flame cutting or using chemicals in a confined space. Other risks include:

  • Lack of oxygen;
  • Poisonous gas, fume or vapour;
  • Liquids and solids suddenly filling the confined space, gas releasing in the space when disturbed;
  • Fire and explosions;
  • Residues left behind that give off gas, fume or vapour;
  • Hot working conditions;
  • Falling objects;
  • Moving parts of equipment or machinery;
  • Electrical shock resulting from defective extension cords, welding cables, etc.;
  • Poor visibility;
  • Materials travelling through piping like gases, hot substances or water.

Fall-Prevention Training is Essential for Safety in Confined Spaces confined-spaces-fall-prevention

As previously mentioned, having an established and efficient rescue plan for workers’ in confined spaces is essential. Fall protection, or prevention training is another not only important, but essential step to ensure safety.

There are five main steps to consider when safeguarding a confined space:

  1. Guard the entrance: A guardrail, barrier or another temporary cover must be in place to prevent entry (i.e. an accidental fall) into the space.
  2. Wear fall-protection gear: All workers, even those not working in the space should have proper fall-protection gear. Dangerous factors may affect nearby workers, like fumes. Equipment like Restraint Lanyards that stop an appropriate distance from the confined space should be used by other workers.
  3. Make sure vertical access is safe: Typically, a ladder or a davit arm with a winching mechanism is used to safely access the confined space.
  4. Use fall-arrest equipment: The main components of fall protection for a confined space are an anchorage, body support and a connector. Workers should have a backup for their primary entry and exit source. If using a ladder for example, the worker should also have a retractable lifeline and a winching mechanism, or may have a safety harness with a retractable winching mechanism to lower, and raise workers into the confined space. Equipment will depend on a vertical or horizontal entry.
  5. Training: If a workers is unfamiliar with fall-protection equipment, the term itself or has no recorded instances of fall-protection or prevention training, the employee must be trained to inspect and use fall-protection equipment and know general information regarding fall-protection.

Find fall-arrest equipment, and more safety solutions for working in confined spaces at Hercules SLR. Click here to read more on how to select the best fall-protection equipment for confined spaces.

Original Article: http://www.capitalsafety.com/en-us/Documents/New-OSHA-Rescue-Requirements-for-Confined-Space-Retrieval-Firl-Argudin-OHS-November-2015.pdf

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Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.