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Fall Protection and Confined Space Entry Requirements

Fall protection and confined space entry

Working in a confined space presents multiple health and safety risks for workers, so they need to ensure fall protection and confined space entry protocols are in place before entering such spaces. A confined space is an area that has limited means of entering and exiting, is not constructed for continuous human occupation, is large enough for an individual to enter and perform the required work, and has the potential for the presence of significant hazards.

Before working in a confined space, your employees must assess and identify potential hazards to determine the precautions they need to take for their safety. For full compliance with the applicable Federal and State Regulations, such as the OSHA standard for confined spaces, you must rely on the experience of safety and health professionals. 

You need to follow specific procedures for confined space entry before you let your workers enter such areas, especially when there are foreseeable risks of severe injuries. 

Here’s everything you need to know about confined space fall protection and other requirements for safety:

Fall Protection Equipment for Confined Spaces

Workers will need necessary entry and retrieval equipment to safely enter and exit confined spaces. Appropriate retrieval systems for workers and equipment include full-body harnesses, tripods or davit systems, and related connecting devices. 

This equipment is required to lower workers into confined spaces while ensuring seamless fall protection and confined space entry. In addition, retrieval equipment controls the descent rate and keeps accidental falls at bay. Workers must also use hoists to raise and lower tools and equipment. 

Hoists & Lifelines

Every worker who enters a confined space should wear a full-body harness and keep a lifeline attached to the harness, even in horizontal entries. The lifeline will come in handy during a confined space rescue when an entrant might become unresponsive. Likewise, the workers outside the space can use the lifeline to haul the entrant out of the confined space without entering the area themselves. 

If a worker needs to be extracted from a confined space via non-entry rescue, the workers outside the area will need lifting equipment to raise the entrant out of the work area. Hoists have a mechanical advantage of 25:1 as it is challenging for an average person to pull an individual out of a deep manhole without any mechanical equipment. 

Equipment for Davit Arms & Tripods

Davit arms and tripods need to be equipped with two mechanical tools for confined space entry – a self-retracting lanyard (SRL) with emergency rescue ability for backup fall protection and a hoist for raising and lowering personnel and materials. 

The SRL will remain connected to the worker entering the confined space, enabling them to move freely within the area. It doesn’t require a topside worker to constantly retract/payout the cable line on a hoist as the worker moves inside the confined space. If the entrant needs rescuing, the topside worker will activate the SRL emergency feature and retrieve the entrant through a non-entry rescue.

Workers can use many harnesses with retrieval equipment. In addition, they can use back, shoulder, or chest loops/D-rings for attaching the retrieval line. A spreader bar is an appropriate tool for emergencies when lowering and lifting workers in confined spaces with exceptionally tight openings. 

Equipment Inspection and Relevant Training

Before entering a confined space work area, workers should inspect all equipment. Devices that show signs of damage or failure to pass the inspection should not be used. Moreover, all personnel involved in confined space entries and relevant work, such as entrants, supervisors, attendants, rescue personnel, etc., should be well-trained to prevent accidents and risks. They must have a complete understanding of their duties. To ensure job site safety, people authorizing confined space entry should also have comprehensive knowledge of the space’s contents and possible hazards. 

DCS provides companies with the necessary safety rescue equipment and planning documentation to fulfill regulatory requirements associated with confined space rescue services. So if you want to ensure fall protection and confined space entry success, get in touch with us today!