Confined Space Emergencies Do’s and Don’ts

Confined spaces can be dangerous places. The brief review below will give “Authorized Attendants” a quick refresher on how to stay safe during a confined space emergency. Never allow workers to attempt an entry rescue unless they are specially trained, properly equipped, and authorized to do so.

What You Should Do in a Confined Space Emergency?

  1. In a confined space emergency, the first thing you should do is report the situation immediately to the entry supervisor, who will notify the emergency rescue team.
  2. If the entrants can perform a self-rescue safely, keep in contact with them throughout the entire procedure, and assist them in any way possible without actually entering the space.
  3. If a non-entry rescue is required and you are trained, equipped, and authorized to perform a non-entry rescue, proceed with this procedure, keeping in constant contact with entrants.
  4. If the space must be entered to rescue entrants, keep in contact with entrants, if possible, let them know that help is on the way, and wait for the rescue team to arrive.

What You Should NOT Do in a Confined Space Emergency?

  1. Do not leave your post at the entry point to the confined space until the rescue team arrives.
  2. Do not allow anyone except the designated rescue team to enter a confined space in an emergency.

Why does it Matters?

  1. Every year, confined space emergencies lead to many injuries and numerous fatalities.
  2. Accidents and deaths may be caused by atmospheres in the confined space that are flammable, toxic, or corrosive.

Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered “Confined” because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit them.

A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and it is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines.

OSHA uses the term “Permit-Required Confined Space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

Confined space hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for “General Industry”, “Construction” and “Shipyard Employment”.

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