Confined space safety can be challenging if teams are not fully prepared for potential hazards. At EWMI, we go above and beyond to ensure safety within confined spaces. To ensure safety within confined spaces, follow these rules:
- Know Your Space
- Know Your Hazards
- Train for Success
- Always be Prepared
Following these four rules can help avoid hazards and ensure safety within confined spaces.
What is a Confined Space?
Knowing your space is critical for working safely. Before delving into specific concerns of confined spaces, you must first understand what constitutes a confined space.
According to Occupational Health & Safety Magazine, a confined space is “an area that is large enough and configured such that an employee or person can bodily enter and perform some type of work; has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy”.
Confined spaces can be sewers, manholes, pipelines, wells or trenches – and most require a permit for entry due to the hazards associated with working in a confined space.
What do you Need to Work in a Confined Space?
Knowing the hazards associated with confined space, and what is required to work within them, can keep your team safe. Some confined spaces are “Permit Required”. A Permit-Required Confined Space is a space that meets the requirements of a confined space and has one or more of the following characteristics:
- Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere,
- Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant,
- Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls, or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section, or,
- Contains any other recognized health or safety hazards.
EWMI treats all confined spaces as “Permit Required” to maximize health and safety precautions and practices when entering the space.
Confined spaces exhibit dangerous potential, and Permit-Required Confined Spaces require special safety measures, precautions and consideration prior to entry by the entire team.
How can you Work Safely in Confined Spaces?
Training for success and preparation are the final steps to safeguarding any team working within a confined space. EWMI excels in confined spaces thanks to these considerations.
EWMI works in a variety of confined spaces including but not limited to frac tanks, vertical and horizontal tanks, underground tanks and vaults. EWMI has industry-leading safety protocols; confined space entry is no exception, and our safety measures are best practice in the field.
Regardless of project-specific considerations, the best way to work safe is always being prepared. At EWMI, we research site and space conditions prior to beginning work, ensuring that our Safety team is aware of all potential hazards so that proper mitigation techniques are used. EWMI completes a Confined Space Entry Permit prior to starting work which includes all pre-entry setup and monitoring. Proper documentation is prepared including a site-specific health and safety plan and safe work permits. The team is also armed with pertinent documents including SDS’s and Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets.
Before EWMI’s field team enters a confined space, the Safety Supervisor will perform air monitoring using a four-gas meter, which measures oxygen content, lower explosive limit, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide to ensure that the space is safe for entry. In addition to this monitoring, EWMI also uses photoionization detectors, colorimetric tubes and other tools depending on site-specific hazards and conditions. These conditions within the confined space are monitored continuously throughout work, and readings are taken every fifteen minutes and recorded on the permit.
In addition to these conditions during work, EWMI also utilizes a rigorous training regimen to instill safety values and knowledge of hazards prior to working. This training includes recognition of permit-required confined spaces, modes, signs and symptoms associated with the potential hazards in the space, use of confined space entry safety equipment and monitors, proper procedures for safe entry and exit and the ability to recognize and react to emergencies.
By following the rules of knowing your space, knowing your hazards, training for success and always being prepared, you can ensure that your team works safely in any confined space.