Just about every industry has some kind of tight space that can be termed "confined" due to its size and/or shape, thereby hindering the work of anyone called upon to enter, work in, and leave it. For the purpose of rulemaking, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration refers to such an area as a "confined space."
Take a gander underneath that umbrella term, and it’s easy to see that confined spaces come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and locations. They often present not just one but a combination of challenging conditions, such as limited movement, hazardous air and a risk of engulfment.
OSHA identifies more than 20 major sectors of industry and labor with various types of confined spaces. Such spaces include:
Just because some confined spaces aren't necessarily designed for easy access doesn’t necessarily mean workers are not expected to enter them, periodically or routinely, in order to perform their jobs. Keeping a work site safe, in and around such conditions, means having correct and up-to-date information about each confined space.
Part of that process involves having a comprehensive plan to address the uncertainties of rescue in confined spaces. That means providing the proper training and equipment so personnel can perform the assigned rescue task for a safe and effective rescue.
A robust confined space safety program should focus on a central goal: protecting workers' safety and health. A written program should include the practices used to remove or control hazards and to ensure safe operations. In addition to preventative measures, the program should discuss air quality monitoring, exit and entry methods, and fall protection/rescue systems.
At Workplace Health & Safety Co., we can help with all those aspects and more. So if you find yourself with questions about confined spaces, reach out to us. We can help in a tight spot.