A confined space is an extremely dangerous place to be in. If simply put, a confined space is an area where the openings for entry and exit are limited. This includes various places like tanks, manholes, pipelines, silos, vessels, etc. Owing to the limited number of entry and exit points, a confined space is really a hazardous space. But still, many workers are bound to get into these confined spaces and risk their life.
As per a recent survey, as many as 2.1 million workers enter into permitted confined spaces annually for something or the other. Although entry into a confined space is allowed through a legal permit only, still a lot of workers end up losing their life because they are not properly trained for the same.
So, what are the 5 must take safety precautions for entering a confined space?
1. Do a risk assessment beforehand
First things first - if you are entering into a confined zone for the first time, make sure to do a full-blown risk assessment of the place first. Check the entry and exit points, the depth of the place, and other hazards that may be present there. Basically, get yourself familiar with the place.
It helps you to ensure what tools and safety measures you must keep in handy at the time of predicament. If you enter the place without properly being ready beforehand, you are risking your life big time!
2. Check the ventilation
An absolute necessity of a safety precaution before stepping into a confined space. Do not forget to check if the confined space has enough ventilation in it or not. You may need to add a few temporary ventilation if the place requires it.
If the area is naturally located in a place where the scope for ventilation of any kind is zero, you will need to carry a breathing apparatus with you to make sure you do not get choked up and protect yourself from toxic gases.
3. Get a backup of rescuers
Another important precaution to abide by before entering a confined space. Make sure you have a team of rescuers with you before stepping into some manhole or vessel. Although confined space training is important for any person working there, so chances are that the person entering must be properly trained too.
But, just in case of a calamity, it is always suggested to be backed-up by a team of professionally trained rescuers. It makes double sure of the fact that your life is not put under the risk of uncertainty at any cost.
4. Personal Protective Equipments (PEP)
A very important checkbox to mark-off before stepping your feet into a confined space. Make sure to carry a personal protective equipment kit with you before entering.
The kit must necessarily include all the tools and protective equipment you may need. This includes an eye protection gear of some kind - like a pair of glasses, a breathing apparatus, an ear protection tool, head and hand protection equipment, harnesses and ropes, etc. Be fully prepared with these items in your personal protective equipment kit.
5. Quick emergency precautions
Last but never least, one must always be ready ahead with a set of quick emergency procedures while entering a confined space.
This involves having an effective means of communication like a mobile phone, setting up lighting facilities because these activities are mostly carried out in the dark, setting up alarms, and being prepared to notify the authorities concerned in case of an issue. These are some of the preliminaries that must be taken care of if one is entering a confined space.
Over to you...
Entering into a confined space means risking your life if you are not well-prepared beforehand. Due to obvious reasons like limited entry and exit and few ventilations, a confined space needs to be accessed by those only who are properly trained and are not claustrophobic.
Here, we cited the 5 most crucial safety precautions one must take before entering a confined space. For more, you are suggested to check out the HSE guidelines. The more prepared you are, the lesser the risks will be.