When working in places with potential confined space hazards, any hazards need to be recognized, documented, and managed. In confined spaces, it’s necessary to consider both the hazards that you could expect to find in any other workspace, as well as those that are specific to working in confined spaces or may present a more significant hazard. It’s of vital importance to know about the types of hazards that are present in a confined space, particularly if an entry permit is required.
Some of the confined space hazards that you should know are covered below.
Risk of Fire or Explosion
Fire safety is always a consideration for employers. In confined spaces, it’s even more important to take the risk of fire into account due to the possibility of limited access and exit points. A flammable atmosphere can present a risk for both fire and explosion. It might be a result of flammable liquids or gases in the confined space, as well as combustible dust that might be present in the atmosphere. If an explosion occurs, it could affect the structural integrity of the space.
A number of physical hazards could present risks in confined spaces. Excessive heat and cold are two of the conditions that might cause problems. Working in an enclosed space can increase the risk of heatstroke and other problems related to higher temperatures. Wearing personal protective equipment or a lack of ventilation could also make these issues worse. Other physical hazards to consider include noise, vibration, inadequate lighting, and electrical hazards.
Chemical exposure in confined spaces is also a hazard to take into account. Chemicals may be hazardous due to skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation. These hazards can exist in many working environments but can be even more important to consider in confined spaces.
A toxic atmosphere might occur as the result of hazardous substances being present in the confined space. This is due to fire, the disturbance of various deposits or substances that are released when work is carried out. Toxins can also remain from previous processes or storage. Substances might also release from under scale and in brickwork when work is carried out. These potential causes of a toxic atmosphere should be carefully managed to prevent consequences that can range from impaired judgment, unconsciousness, or even death.
Lack Of or Excess Oxygen
If oxygen levels in a confined space are too low or too high, it could present problems. Oxygen deficiency could occur in a confined space due to displacement by another gas, chemical reactions or biological processes, or absorption of air into steel surfaces. A lack of oxygen reduces air quality, making it more difficult for workers to breathe. On the other hand, an excess of oxygen can increase the risk of fire or explosion when there are combustible materials present. Materials that are not ordinarily combustible in standard conditions could become so when there is more oxygen in the atmosphere.
The movement of liquids, free-flowing solids, or other shifting materials can be a hazard in confined spaces. This issue could lead to drowning, suffocation, entrapment, burns, or a variety of other injuries. Barrier failure might result in flooding or the flow of liquids. The shifting or collapse of bulk materials could also cause problems. Powder solids are another material that could move, leading to the creation of a toxic atmosphere and perhaps an increased risk of fire or explosion. Ensuring stable structures and secure storage of materials can help to manage this risk. It’s also important to have a confined space rescue plan to ensure any necessary rescues will be carried out appropriately.
It’s important to be aware of the risk of safety hazards in confined spaces. For example, every business needs to consider the risk of slips and falls. Other hazards to consider are equipment with moving parts, entanglement, structural hazards, and safety issues that arise as the result of both structural environmental dangers.
Engaging a team for technical rescue is a must for employers that have workers in confined spaces. One of the most important things for managing hazards in confined spaces is to have the correct plans in place to deal with emergencies.