Stuck in a Tight Spot? What to know in a confined space

confined space, hercules slr, how to work in confined spaces

Most workers will have to work in a confined space at some point in their career – although common, many workers and employers don’t plan or account for common hazards found in them. 

Read on to discover commonly-found dangers in confined spaces and how to prepare for them. 

WHAT’S A CONFINED SPACE? 

A confined space is an area that:

  • Is large enough to enter and do work in;
  • Has limited entries and exits;
  • Isn’t meant for long-term human occupancy.
  • Examples: Silos’, tunnels, sewers, wells, underground utility vaults, an empty tanker trailer

WHAT’S A PERMIT-REQUIRED CONFINED SPACE (PRCS)?

Yes, it’s a confined space that you need a permit to enter – but a permit-required confined space also:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain serious safety or health hazards like:
    • Engulfment
    • Toxic Atmosphere
    • Puzzling Configuration
    • Heat or Cold Stress
    • Slipping Hazards
    • Flammable Atmosphere
    • Oxygen Deficiency

CONFINED SPACE HAZARD: 2 FACTORS THAT CREATE HAZARDS

  1.  Failure to see and control hazards associated with the confined space
    • Atmospheric hazards
    • Physical hazards
  2. Poor Emergency response time or plan
    • Many injuries or fatalities in confined spaces occur when other workers attempt to save coworkers injured in a confined space
    • Nearly 60% of worker fatalities occur when trying to save someone else from a confined space hazard 

Nearly 60% of deaths in confined spaces happen to the would-be rescuer

CONFINED SPACE: KNOW THE HAZARDS

Hazard #1: Oxygen Deficiency

Normal air has an oxygen content of 20.8-.9% – when there’s less than 19.5% available, you’re in a oxygen-deficient space. When this level decreases, even by 1-2% the effects are felt immediately. When working in a space with this level, remember to wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). 

What leads to oxygen deficiency? Inadequate ventilation, poor air quality, oxygen consumed from welding, decomposition, rust are some of the factors that cause oxygen levels to drop.

Oxygen Deficiency Levels

  • Minimum for safe entry: 19.5%
  • Impaired judgement and breathing, accelerated heartbeat: 16%
  • Faulty judgement and rapid fatigue: 14%
  • Nausea, vomiting, inability to perform simple tasks, unconsciousness: 6-10%
  • Rapid loss of consciousness, death in minutes: Less than 6%
Hazard #2: Oxygen Displacement

Oxygen displacement occurs when there’s an inert gas (it’s worth noting inert gas is different than a noble gas – an inert gas doesn’t chemically react, and a noble gas does chemically react under certain conditions. All noble gases are inert, but not all inert gases are noble).

When enough of a inert gas is in a confined space, it displaces the oxygen which makes it difficult – well, impossible to breathe. For example, nitrogen is non-toxic, colourless and odourless – but will displace the oxygen in a room.

Hazard #3: Fire & Flammable Atmosphere

Flammable atmospheres are caused by flammable liquids, gases and combustible dusts which if lit, can cause an explosion or fire. The ignition doesn’t have to be a flame – it can be something as simple as static electricity or a small spark.

Hazard #4: Physical

You can become engulfed after being trapped or enveloped by material. Electrocution can happen when electrical equipment is activated, and mechanical energy can activate and cause physical injury. 

Other physical safety hazards, although small that can still cause injury are inadequate lighting, noise, vibration and radiation. Nearby traffic, vehicles and other heavy machinery could also be a hazard. Objects and slippery areas pose falling hazards, and hot or cold temperature extremes also pose a threat. Extremely high temperatures can cause your body to undergo heat stress. 

Heat Stress Symptoms

In a confined space (and other areas) your body might not be able to cool down which can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke to occur.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Pale, clammy skin

When these symptoms occur, you should move to a cool area, raise your legs, take off any heavy clothing, drink water and apply a wet cloth to your skin. 

Heat stroke symptoms include:

  • Dry, pale skin – with no sweat
  • Hot, red skin that looks sunburnt
  • Unable to think straight, seizure, unconsciousness

When this occurs:

  • Call 911
  • Move victim to a cool area
  • Loosen or remove heavy clothing
  • Place icepacks at your armpit and groin

To protect yourself:

  • Try to work or accomplish physical parts of work during the coolest parts of the day
  • Use spot ventilation
  • Use buddy system
  • Drink cold water – try to drink around every 15 minutes and take frequent breaks
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine in high temperatures, and be mindful of medication as this can increase your risk of heat  stroke.

confined space, hercules slr, srl, self-retracting lifeline, inspections, repairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONFINED SPACE: PROCEDURES

Before you start work in a confined space, it’s essential to follow a procedure to control and/or minimize safety hazards and remain safe on the job. Follow this procedure before working in a confined space:

  • Conduct a pre-entry evaluation (like a discussion with everyone who will be working at the site);
  • Identify and eliminate potential hazards that can enter the space, both atmospheric and physical;
  • Use forced air ventilation and use lock out/tag out if necessary;
  • Complete an entry permit – Assign an entrant, attendant and supervisor and any other relevant competent person needed on the site.

The Authorized Entrant will:

  • Know hazards that will face workers during entry;
  • Wear proper PPE;
  • Maintain communication with the attendant;
  • Know the signs of overexposure/heat stress and stroke;
  • Evacuate the confined space when ordered to or when over-exposed to hazard(s).

The Authorized Attendant will:

  • Keep their position outside the entrance at all time;
  • Know the signs and symptoms of overexposure;
  • Prevent unauthorized people from entering the space;
  • Maintain communication with entrants;
  • Begin the emergency response/rescue plan if needed;
  • Complete an evaluation of the entrance before they start work;
  • Make sure personnel know the hazards;
  • Implement any necessary control measures, for example – ventilation;
  • Complete any permits that are necessary to enter the space;
  • Complete any tests needed to enter the confined space safely.

REMEMBER TO use retrieval equipment to remove yourself or the entrant from the confined pace.

Ensuring you have the necessary PPE for emergency rescue situations is the most important step of working in a confined space.

As we mentioned, almost 60% of confined space deaths happen to someone trying to rescue a coworker – It’s natural to want to save a life, but it’s important to not take two lives in the process. This is why confined space planning is essential to completing work efficiently and safely.


Choosing and having the proper PPE for the job is essential to staying safe amidst hazards in a confined space. This may include self-retracting lifelines, anchorages or body harness’ – click the link below to find out more about Hercules SLR’s fall protection services. 

Fall Protection

Check out our blogs to learn more about fall protection and staying safe at heights: 

Sources: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health - https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprograms/confinedspace_intro.html 

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.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.

PPE Fall Protection in North America

Abseiling

PPE Fall Protection: the early lanyard

PPE Fall Protection devices were used in the early 20th Century by many professionals, although they used rope lanyards made of natural fibers, such as manila hemp, and simple body belts with no shock-absorbing properties. Clarence W. Rose–who early in his career was a window washer–became a pioneer in fall protection when he started the Rose Mfg. Co. in 1934 and began producing safety belts and lanyards for window washers. On Nov. 24, 1959, Rose was awarded a patent for an easy-to-use cable connector for safety belts that also had some shock-absorbing properties (U.S. Patent 2,914,139). Listed in the patent was a statement that the connector could, among other things, “be adapted to slip somewhat responsive to a sudden jerk as when the safety rope checks the fall of a wearer and thereby eases the shock to the wearer incurred by checking the fall.”

PPE Fall Protection
Madison Avenue Window Cleaner

PPE Fall Protection: shock-absorption major leap forward

Joseph Feldstein, manager of Technical Services at MSA, which purchased the Rose Mfg. Co. in 1996, said the idea of a shock absorber was a major step forward in protecting against the large braking forces generated in arresting falls, especially during Rose’s time.

“If you can imagine, workers with a simple belt and lanyard arrangement that was common up until that point would be exposed to a fall that could not only damage them internally because of the forces exerted to the soft tissues of the abdomen around the belt, but also you could generate such forces that you could separate the lanyard,” he said.

Rose continued to develop his shock-absorbing concept and was awarded several patents for newer and better shock absorbers. Ultimately, his designs influenced the creation of the modern-day shock absorber. Rose also received many other patents related in some way to preventing or protecting workers from falls. An example is the patent for an early “Ladder Climber” harness system (U.S. Patent 2,886,227) that contains two hook lanyards that are both attached to a harness. While ascending or descending, a worker grasps one hook in each hand and secures them over alternating ladder rungs.

Decades later, the industry would see the emergence of locking snap hook connectors and full-body harnesses, both gaining much more acceptance in the 1980s. In 1990, OSHA enacted regulation 1910.66. Craig Firl, product marketing manager in Hardgoods for Capital Safety-USA, said appendix C in this regulation was the key to getting several areas of fall protection technology up to date.

“Even though that particular standard at that time allowed for non-locking-type hooks to be used in a fall protection-type system, they recommended the locking type to be used because they were safer hooks and more compatible,” Firl said.

PPE Fall Protection: more hardware than ever

Feldstein agreed, adding that the acceptance of the locking snap hook led to the creation of a whole new series of connecting anchorage systems: straps, D-rings, and more. “And that’s continued to evolve to its current state, where we now have personalized anchorage connectors for almost every application, whether it’s building construction or general industry,” he said. Even though body belts were still allowed, Feldstein said appendix C acknowledged that OSHA recognized full-body harnesses as a major innovation in fall arrest. “Belts are still permissible in positioning, but in a fall, you definitely want to be protected by a full-body harness. It distributes the load across your chest and the bony mass of your hip, where your body is most capable of absorbing a blow, and it protects the soft tissue of the abdomen,” Feldstein said.

Two years after 1910.66 arrived, the ANSI committee released standard Z359.1, the key fall protection standard in use today. Most notably, it required the use of full-body harnesses and self-locking snap hooks. Firl said this voluntary compliance standard put pressure on OSHA to recognize that its existing standard needed updating and encouraged the completion of another fall protection standard for the construction industry, Subpart M, in 1995. According to this standard, as of Jan. 1, 1998, the use of body belts and non-locking snap hooks was prohibited.

During the ’80s, Self-Retracting Lanyards (SRLs) gained in development and use. They had been developed in the 1950s for offshore oil production in the North Sea but quickly became a common component in fall protection systems worldwide. Feldstein said SRLs became so valuable because they allowed workers to be protected along a much greater length of travel, increasing productivity without sacrificing safety. He described a scenario for rail car workers:

“Workers could be protected from the ground level and all the way up to the top of the rail car while they were working along the train’s length because the SRL could be mounted mobilely overhead. So that afforded a new type of protection for all types of workers in transportation, everything from rail cars, truck load-outs, and air craft maintenance.”

Regarding fall protection’s future, Firl and Feldstein said they believe comfort will continue to advance. Firl also foresees advances into niche markets with specialized materials and components, similar to the vacuum anchors’ progression into the airline industry for maintenance work on aircraft, whose surfaces can’t be penetrated with traditional-type anchors.
“In the past, a harness was a harness. It didn’t really matter if it was for construction, or utility work, or warehousing, it was a harness,” he said. “Now, you’re starting to see more specialized gear. . .  As an example, in the utility segment, you would see extensively the use of flame-resistant materials . . . because they’re concerned about heat resistance; they’re concerned about being able to resist arc flash and so forth.”

At Hercules SLR we stock MSA, 3M and Honeywell Miller PPE and fall protection products, to provide you with an extensive, high quality range of PPE Fall Protection products. Our in-house experts will advise you on what equipment best suits your project. When it comes time for your yearly inspections and service, our technicians can inspect, repair and certify your gear. For more information on our Fall Protection products and Services, please call: 1-877-461-4876.

References
https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2007/01/01/PPEvolution.aspx?Page=4

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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.

Hercules SLR: DBI-SALA® ExoFit STRATA™ Body Harness

3m-dbi-sala-safety-harness-fall-protection-fall-arrest

Body Harness: Why are they so Uncomfortable?

Comfort is one of the main reasons workers don’t wear proper fall-protection equipment, or a body harness. Yet falls are the leading cause of death in construction, and compliance with safety standards is a major issue, according to OSHA.

DBI-SALA® ExoFit STRATA™ Body Harness: Comfortable, Cool & Light to Wear 

3M Personal Safety Division and Capital Safety, two world industry leaders in personal protective equipment and fall protection products have designed a solution for the discomfort—the DBI-Sala ExoFit Strata body harness.

“The safest harness is the one workers actually wear. Since launching the harness in the fall of 2015, hundreds of workers have made the switch to ExoFit STRATA,” says Tim Thompson, soft goods manager at Capital Safety. “Workers and managers alike have caught on to the overall benefit of utilizing equipment that compliments workers while on the job, and leaves them feeling comfortable even after they end a shift.”

Features

In July 2015, Capital Safety parented with ergonomics specialists from the Sweere Center for Clinical Biomechanics and Applied Ergonomics at Northwestern Health Sciences University to look at the need for new innovation from harness development. Their research looked at the most common complaints from workers—the load on the back and shoulders, limited range of motion and body temperature. The ExoFit STRATA™ Body Harness was created  in response to these complaints. exofit-strata-body-harness

The ExoFit STRATA features solution-based elements, including a first-of-its-kind LIFTech™ Load Distribution System. LIFTech takes the weight off a worker’s shoulders and redistributes it down to the hips, which reduces force on the shoulders up to 85%. PolarMesh™ padding keeps users’ backs cooler with greater air flow. A Revolver™ Vertical Torso Adjuster and Tri-Lock Revolver™ Connectors, which offer added security around the legs, allow wearers to adjust their harness to the perfect fit. An EZ-Link™ Quick SRL Adapter helps workers efficiently attach their personal SRL, which reduces the time it takes to connect and disconnect by up to 80 percent. Tech-Lite™ Aluminum D-Rings allow for optimal reliability without adding significant weight to the harness.

Find body harnesses and more fall protection equipment at Hercules SLR.

Original article: http://www.capitalsafety.com/caadmin/Pages/DBI-SALA-ExoFit-STRATA-Harness-Helps-Workers-Lighten-Up.aspx

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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.