Why confined space training?
Why confined space training? Taking training courses before you enter, exit or work around a confined space has many benefits—The main benefit is having the knowledge to keep yourself and others safe.
Why is training to enter a confined space so important? What’s so deadly about a confined space that’s different from other types of dangerous, hazardous workplaces?
A lot, actually.
We’ve talked about the dangers of confined spaces on the Hercules SLR blog before—But why should you train for them? You’re about to find out.
In this blog, we’ll cover:
- What is confined space training?
- Why is confined space training important?
- What are the OSHA/CCOHS standards for confined space training?
- How often is confined space training required?
- What are the four main dangers of a confined space?
- Who can enter a confined space?
- Confined spaces & restricted spaces—What’s the difference?
WHAT IS CONFINED SPACE TRAINING?
Confined space training involves teaching workers who work in or around confined spaces the hazards, risks and dangers involved with them. It’s important that even people who aren’t planning to enter the space are trained on proper confined space entry and exit, since nearly 60% of confined space deaths happen to people who try to rescue others.
What’s the difference between a hazard and a risk?
WHY IS CONFINED SPACE TRAINING IMPORTANT?
Why confined space training? Confined space training is important because it helps workers and nearby personnel manage risk associated with work in confined spaces, which in-turn, helps reduce injuries & fatalities. How can you know what to do, look for and how to rescue yourself and others if no one tells you?
This is where confined space training comes in.
Like we mention in the paragraph above, almost 60% of confined space deaths happen to people who try to rescue those who are trapped or in danger—But there are other reasons why training to work in or around a confined space is absolutely necessary.
Many hazards found in confined spaces are found in other, open work spaces, but become more dangerous, or even deadly when you encounter them in confined spaces.
This is because there’s little room for error for work in a confined space. Physical hazards are more dangerous in a confined space, materials & chemicals can interact unpredictably and of course, they’re harder to get in and out of.
Some of these include:
- Low air quality: Low, or poor air quality might happen from a toxic substance in the air (see ‘Aspyxiant hazards’ below) or from a lack of oxygen, and/or natural ventilation.
- Asphyxiant hazards: These are gases that become concentrated in a confined space and displace oxygen in the air, which leads to nausea, convulsion, coma, and eventually, this atmosphere becomes fatal. Asphyxiants are gases like argon, nitrogen and/or carbon monoxide.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals.
- Fire hazards, like chemicals that could ignite if a spark is used in the space.
- Physical hazards like noise, extreme heat or cold, radiation, vehicle & pedestrian traffic and even poor visibility.
All of these hazards are amplified when you work in a confined space. We can’t stress the speed at which these hazards become fatal. Picture this:
You’re working on a water waste lift station (which controls waste water/sewage travel). Your co-worker has descended into a confined space to diagnose an issue, but the diagnosis should have been complete long ago—As in 45 minutes ago. “I’m gonna go check on him,” your co-worker shouts to you. Before you can tell him to stop, he enters the confined space. You call 911—Neither can be revived. Your co-worker who simply went to check on someone died instantly. You will never underestimate just how fast a confined space can take a life again.
We don’t mean to be obscene, but this is a reality than unfortunately, happens more than it should, even with all the knowledge available on confined space entry & exit. Hazards found in typical workplaces become much more hazardous when they’re confined, which is just one reason why confined space training is so important.
WHAT ARE THE REGULATIONS FOR CONFINED SPACE TRAINING?
In Canada, provincial standards regarding confined space differ. Your organization may have also have requirements for confined space work specific to them, so take these as a general guideline.
There is some legislation that involves training and confined spaces in Canada—The Canadian Occupational Health & Safety Standard 11.5 on emergency procedures says:
- Where conditions in a confined space or the nature of the work to be performed in a confined space is such that the specifications set out in paragraph 1.4(1)(a) cannot be compiled with during all times that a person is in the confined space, the employer shall
a) In consultation with the work place committee or the health and safety representative, establish emergency procedures to be followed in the event of an accident or other emergency in or near the confined space, which procedures shall specify the date on which they are established and provide for the immediate evacuation of the confined space when
i) an alarm is activated, or
ii) there is any significant change in a concentration or percentage referred to in paragraph 11.4(1)(a) that would adversely affect the health or safety of a person in the confined space.
b) provide the protection equipment referred to in paragraphs 11.3(b), (c) and (d) for each person who is about to enter the confined space;
c) Ensure that a qualified person trained in the entry and emergency procedures established pursuant to paragraph 11.3(a) and paragraph (a) is
i) in attendance outside the confined space, and
ii) in communication with the person inside the confined space;
d) Provide the qualified person referred to in paragraph (c) with a suitable alarm device for summoning assistance; and
e) Ensure that two or more persons are in the immediate vicinity of the confined space to assist in the event of an accident or other emergency.
2. One of the persons referred to in paragraph (1)(e) shall
a) Is attached to a secure anchor outside the confined space,
b) be the holder of a basic first aid certificate; and
c) be provided with the protection equipment and emergency equipment referred to in paragraph 11.3(d).
3. The employer shall ensure that every person entering, exiting, or occupying a confined space referred to in subsection (1) wears an appropriate safety harness that is securely attached to a lifeline that
a) is attached to a secure anchor outside the confined space;
b) is controlled by the qualified person referred to in paragraph (1)(c);
c) protects the person from the hazard for which it is provided and does not itself create a hazard; and
d) is, where reasonably practicable, equipped with a mechanical lifting device.
HOW OFTEN IS CONFINED SPACE TRAINING NEEDED?
Anyone who is about to work in or around confined spaces should receive training—It’s often beneficial to train new employees on specific confined space entry, exit and rescue procedures for your organization even if they have training from previous work, since practices may be different.
Confined space training should also be held when policies or regulations change. Training should also be held if policies and procedures are ignored. As we know, this can be deadly.
The Canadian Occupational Health & Safety Standard 11.11 states:
- The employer shall provide every employee who is likely to enter a confined space with instruction and training in,
a) the procedures established pursuant to paragraphs 11.3(a) and 11.5(1)(a); and
b) The use of the protection equipment referred to in paragraphs 11.3(b), (c) and (d).
2. The employer shall ensure that no person enters a confined space unless the person is instructed in,
a) the procedures to be followed in accordance with paragraphs 11.3(a) and 11.5(1)(a); and
b) The use of the protection equipment referred to in paragraphs 11.3(b), (c) and (d).
WHAT ARE THE 4 MAIN DANGERS OF WORK IN A CONFINED SPACE?
We’ve covered some of the main hazards to look for in a confined space, but as we know, they are magnified in a confined space—So it’s worth going over again.
WHAT ARE SOME TYPES OF CONFINED SPACES?
It’s easy to think of confined spaces as work spaces that you descend (go down) to, but confined spaces can be nearly anywhere, above or below ground.
So, why confined space training? Because it’s likely many workers in industrial jobs will work in one of these spaces at least once.
By definition, a confined space:
- Is not meant to be occupied by humans (Especially long-term)
- Has limited entries and/or exits, or a layout that could hinder emergency responders, or movement from humans or machines.
- Represents a risk to health & safety because of:
- The design, construction, location or atmosphere of the space
- Materials or substances found/used in the space
- Any other conditions that contribute to safety risk or hazards.
Types of confined spaces include:
- Open Ditch