EWMI’s field team was recently trained in confined space entry rescue methods. Training our crew is imperative for crucial time sensitive situations, where a teammate may need rescuing that is unable to be done via non-entry methods. At EWMI we know it is imperative to ensure safety within confined spaces and to always be prepared for any situation that may occur.

Confined space entry in a frac tank:

Confined spaces are common in our industry. The recognition of hazards that can emerge prior to entering the space is a critical step in preventing unsafe incidents. Injuries and fatalities can result from poor planning and not being properly prepared. It is a requirement that the atmosphere be tested prior to entry and monitored throughout the entirety of the entry. These atmospheric hazards can include oxygen-deficiency/enrichment, toxicity, and combustibility. EWMI makes it a practice to write a permit for all confined space entries.

EWMI recently added a frac tank rental and service line. Frac tanks are large heavy gauged steel tanks that hold either sludge, liquids, or a combination of the two. These tanks are beneficial for construction sites, agricultural sites, environmental remediation, oil, and gas applications as well as manufacturing facilities for temporary storage. We also perform tank cleanings where our crew decontaminates frac tanks.

Requirements for working in a confined space:

Knowing the hazards of confined spaces and what is required to work within them will prepare the team for a safe entry. EWMI treats all confined spaces as “Permit Required” to maximize health and safety precautions and practices when entering the space. These spaces can potentially be dangerous and require training in safety measures. Arming the crews with the knowledge needed for proper entry methods.

EWMI works in a variety of confined spaces including but not limited to frac tanks, vertical and horizontal tanks, underground tanks, and vaults. Our field technicians are prepared for any project-specific protocols prior to entering the field. Each job is carefully vetted prior to a job beginning along with a site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP). Once on site the permitting begins prior to beginning work.

Before entering a confined space, the confined space supervisor ensures that initial air monitoring is performed. A four-gas meter is used to measure oxygen content, lower explosive limit, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide to ensure that the space is safe for entry. There are times when EWMI uses photoionization detectors, colorimetric tubes and other tools depending on site-specific hazards and conditions. The conditions within the confined space are monitored continuously throughout work, and readings are taken every fifteen minutes and recorded on the permit.

Training day at EWMI:

The training began early in the EWMI conference room lead by our Health and Safety Director. Teams were divided and assigned specific areas of confined space safety which included definitions, hazards, levels of PPE including the types of respiratory protection. Later types of knots required for rescue were discussed and practiced. Each team was given a scenario and required to come up with plan for their mission. Prior to executing the plan, it had to be approved by the H&S Director.

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Once each team’s plan was approved the rescue drills began. A rescue drill is required at least annually by OSHA. Providing personnel, the experience of working through different scenarios to familiarize themselves with situations they could encounter during a confined space rescue. There are two types of categories involved with rescue: time sensitive (emergency) and non-time sensitive. Time sensitive rescues involve oxygen-deficient atmospheres where there is a small window of time, typically six minutes, to get someone out. An example of a non—time sensitive rescue would be when a crew member falls and injuries themselves, in this circumstance there are no atmospheric hazards.

In the warehouse a clean EWMI frac tank was staged for the teams to perform their emergency rescue scenarios. The teams previously discussed the best approach to save their teammate during the planning phase and were ready to suit up and make entry. Rescuing someone in a timely manner requires in-depth knowledge of the conditions, potential hazards, location, and configuration of the confined space, these all lend to determination of the rescue strategy.

Following proper protocols, knowing your space, knowing your hazards, training for success and being prepared will ensure that your team works safely and efficiently in any confined space emergency.