Confined Spaces - Getting In and Out Safely

Confined Spaces - Getting In and Out Safely

By Jordan Maynard

Where do we find some of the most dangerous places to work in everyday construction? I’m sure we can all agree that working in environments like vessels, manholes, silos, storage bins, tanks, pits, tunnels, pipelines, and many more areas like these can be frightening at times. Confined spaces are heavily regulated by OSHA, and rightly so, given that workers are risking their lives every time they enter one of these confined spaces. The question that arises is how can we be safest in these environments? How do we ensure that EVERY single worker that goes into the hole comes out on his own accord?

Before we dig in, let’s make sure we have a full understanding on how OSHA defines a confined space in today’s construction industry:

Confined space means:

(1) It is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter it.

(2) Has limited or restricted means for entry and exit.

(3) Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

People working in these environments are exposed to dangers such as toxicity, asphyxiation, electrocutions, and even explosions. Read more about these dangers on the OSHA website. As a contractor, you want to make sure that your crew is prepared for these different atmospheres. In fact, employers are REQUIRED to take certain steps in order to ensure compliance along with the safety of those working.

What’s the first step? It may seem obvious, but employers must IDENTIFY CONFINED SPACES! This is an incredibly important step because it prevents a worker from entering a space that may not look as if it would be a confined space. However, if not prepared and properly equipped, the worker may not see or realize that this space is lethally toxic for example. This is unfortunately the case too many times in the field. All it takes to avoid this is having an individual trained as a “Competent Person” who can accurately identify and plan for confined spaces. Read about confined spaces training on our course descriptions page. I strongly encourage you to, if you haven’t already, give us a call at (303) 537-5832 and register an individual to become that competent person!

When it comes to the individual workers, one of the most difficult things to do is detect dangerous gases inside the confined space. Equipping your employees with a gas monitor (whether it be 4, 2, or 1 gas) is essential in keeping your workers safe. It is, in many circumstances, almost impossible to tell if a confined space is toxic or if it’s an explosive atmosphere so please provide your employees with all the tools necessary to know this information before entering the environment. Colorado Safety Supply Company actually carries a 2 year disposable gas monitor that requires NO charging and NO calibration. Just bump test the unit and you are good to go!

We here at Colorado Safety Supply Company are fully dedicated to ensuring that you, as an employer, are compliant and your employees return home safely to their families each day. So please, pick up the phone and give us a call! (303) 537-5832. We are here as a resource for you as a team dedicated to making sure all is safe and well on your jobsites. Being proactive is ALWAYS better than being reactive!

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