Many occupations and industries require individuals to work in a confined space. Confined space access equipment is designed to reduce the risk of injury or accident for individuals undertaking the work in a potentially hazardous environment. When working in a confined space, it is crucial to know what equipment is required for confined space work and how to stay safe should an incident occur.
A confined space is a fully or partially enclosed space that:
Areas in which confined space access equipment is used include:
Confined space work requires specialist equipment as these areas pose dangers to those working within them. The hazards present vary in each confined space but often relate to poor ventilation and poor atmospheric conditions. As a result, risks of working in a confined space include:
What types of PPE will you need if you work in a confined space? Well, in conditions where ventilation and air quality cannot be guaranteed, appropriate confined space access equipment such as air supplied respiratory equipment must be used. In addition, other PPE such as gloves, goggles and overalls are needed if the confined spaces contain any dangerous chemicals or substances.
When entering a confined space, harnesses and winches are attached to workers to ensure safe entry and exit. This equipment reduces the risk of falling when entering or exiting the confined space and guarantees that individuals can safely exit an area when their work is finished or during an emergency.
When working in confined spaces, an outside observer must actively monitor the individuals inside the space. The trained observer should be monitoring and supervising those within the confined space from a safe area. If a situation should occur, this individual will initiate emergency procedures and instruct on the suitable actions to ensure the health and safety of all involved.
All equipment used to ensure the health and safety of workers on-site should be appropriately tested and tagged during Confined Space Equipment Inspections. Testing and tagging guarantees correct operation and calibration of equipment. This ensures that equipment is adequately maintained and routinely checked, guaranteeing it is safe to use on-site and functions as desired.
To ensure adequate monitoring and communication for confined space work, suitable communication protocols should be in place and appropriate equipment used. Suitable communication procedures include hand and rope signals, while appropriate equipment would-be two-way radios, close circuit television and mobile phones.
Confined space access equipment is vital within the confined space itself and around the entry and exit points to ensure everyone stays safe. Appropriate signage should clearly communicate any hazards in the area and safety requirements for any individual present. Signs are also necessary to prevent unauthorised individuals from entering a space. Additionally, security devices, including barriers and locks should be installed to secure the area.
When an emergency arises, it is vital that all members are trained in emergency procedures and that the necessary equipment is on hand.
There should be an adequate number of workers with first aid training to assist with any medical requirements and a suitable first aid kit available in an accessible location on site. Additionally, emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers should be on hand and the details of the closest hospital should be known.
For confined space work, there is a number of specialist equipment developed to suit the situation and requirements of confined space emergencies. This equipment includes:
Self-retracting lifelines can be anchored to a tripod or wall to ensure a safe descent or ascent to and from a confined space.
Stretchers allow emergency responders to secure and evacuate an injured worker in a safe position. For confined space access, stretchers can be orientated both horizontally and vertically.
Tripods are used to secure winches and retrieval systems. They are set up above the confined space entry and made of strong durable material. Tripods are essential in rescue kits and situations for controlling the ascent or descent of an individual.
Confined space retrieval systems utilise tripods, ropes, fall arrest kits and rope rescue systems to provide safe entry, exit and retrieval from a confined space. A great example is the MSA Kit Confined Space Rope Rescue System which includes:
If you would like additional information on the requirements for confined space access equipment or help with confined space equipment inspections, contact Newcastle Safety Servicing today on (02) 4960 1372 or submit an enquiry through our website.