Getting trapped in a confined space comes with multiple risks that can leave a lasting impact. Even if you come out of them without any physical injuries, confined spaces can still hurt your mental health and leave you to deal with the consequences for years to come. If you ever get trapped in a confined space, the sooner someone can arrange for you to be rescued, the better. Unfortunately, this isn’t always so clear-cut. In many cases, you might be unaware that you are trapped in a confined space. This article reviews what a confined space is and provides confined space examples so that you can take quick action if you ever get stuck in a similar situation.
What Is a Confined Space?
We can define a confined space as an enclosed space that is hard to access. A confined space can exist below or above the ground. Despite what the name suggests, a confined space isn’t necessarily entirely enclosed. Instead, it may only partly enclosed or enclosed to the extent that it increases the risk of getting stuck within said space.
For the most part, confined spaces pose risks for the following reasons:
- The level of access to these spaces is restricted, and it is hard to enter or exit.
- You can have difficulty communicating since any individuals present on the outside may not be able to determine what’s going on and see the people inside.
- There can be issues in ventilation. You may find it difficult to breathe and eventually run out of fresh oxygen, which can seriously compromise your health.
- If there is a leak or some other kind of incident that forces water inside, these spaces can fill up quickly and increase your drowning risks.
These factors make it difficult to escape a confined space. Given these risks, you also need a qualified professional to come and rescue.
For the most part, these spaces are not supposed to be occupied by people. However, maintenance and repair teams may need to access these spaces to clean up, renovate, or repair any damage.
Companies commonly use a confined space permit to work when accessing these spaces. However, given the dangers present, the work can still be hazardous, and it is essential to have a rescue team on standby to resolve any issues that may occur.
20 Confined Space Examples To Keep an Eye On
As mentioned earlier, there may be situations where you are not aware of whether something qualifies as a confined space. To help you out, here are 20 examples of confined space to remember:
A manhole is typically an average-sized opening leading to a confined space. Working in a manhole can expose you to a number of potential dangers that can lead to a serious accident. Some common examples include slips and falls, oxygen depletion, fire or explosion, gas poisoning, drowning, heat stress, exposure to fumes, vapor, and gas, leading to asphyxiation.
2. Storage Tanks and Vats
A storage tank or a vat container is used for holding liquids and gases. There are several hazards associated with these types of confined spaces. More often than not, any potential hazards are also a result of the materials stored inside the storage tank or container. These materials may be toxic, explosive, or flammable.
Sewers are underground tunnel systems and pipes that carry waste matter, drainage water, and other hazardous substances that can pose a health risk.
Trenches are included as confined space examples that are above the ground. You usually dig them to conduct short-term work. However, they tend to be enclosed and have restricted access, thereby posing several risks.
Excavations are carried out to gain temporary access to things below the ground. They may also be made for construction purposes. Excavations tend to be unstable and are prone to collapsing or flooding.
Pits are hollow indentations made into the ground. There are various types of pits that you can consider. They are usually open at the surface, but extracting people from them can be difficult.
7. Lifts and Access Shafts
These confined spaces consist of a vertical shaft that can extend both above and below the ground. It qualifies as a confined space due to the limited access and difficulty exiting. They present a high risk of slips/falls and other injuries.
Getting trapped in a tunnel can pose various dangers since you might find it difficult to find your way back to the surface. There is also the possibility of floods, cave-ins, and other dangers.
Pipes are narrow spaces used to move gases and liquids from one area to the next. They tend to run both horizontally and vertically.
A chamber is a small room that can be partially or fully sealed and enclosed. Due to the limited access, they often serve as a confined space that is difficult to escape.
Ducts, conduits, pipe systems, and passages are narrow spaces used to transmit heat and air for ventilation, heating, and air conditioning.
A silo is a partially or fully enclosed structure that is used to store materials in bulk amounts. Common examples include grain, cement, sawdust, silage, etc.
Boilers and boiler rooms are used for large-scale industrial applications. These confined spaces pose a variety of risks, and it is necessary to take precautions when venturing inside for maintenance and repair purposes.
A flue is a pipe, a duct, or an opening present at the top of the chimney. It is used to convey exhaust gases released by a furnace, boiler, water heater, fireplace, or generator and release them into the environment.
A vault is an underground storage area that is enclosed to limit access. You can normally enter it using a maintenance hole.
A well is a type of vertical excavation created in the ground to gain access to liquid resources. A water well is the most common example of this type of confined space.
A hopper is a large container shaped in the form of a pyramid or a cone. It is utilized in industrial processes for holding particulate matter or things like gravel, dust, seeds, etc. It can also dispense these materials outward using a chute.
18. Vessels and Voids
These confined spaces usually work as containers to hold something, or they may be completely empty spaces that surround other structures. You may need to access them for maintenance and other work during construction.
19. Unventilated Rooms and Areas In a Building
These confined spaces tend to exist below ground level. However, they may also be found on the upper floors.
20. Cargo Holds Within Ships
The cargo hold is a part of a ship where goods are stored. They tend to be enclosed spaces and have a hatch at the top to restrict access.
Are you planning to carry out maintenance or repair work in any of the confined space examples mentioned above? If so, get in touch with DCS Rescue to have a reliable technical rescue team on standby and ensure the safety of your team. Contact us today to learn more!