A worker can see a confined space without knowing that such a place is a confined space. The main issue is what qualifies to be a confined space.
OSHA of the USA occupational safety and health administration define a confined space as an environment that meets each of the following three conditions.
- It is large enough to allow an employee to enter and perform work
- It has limited or restricted means for entry, exit or both.
- It is not for continuous human occupancy.
These three conditions will guide you on how to know if a space is a confined space.
However, there are confined spaces that do not require permits to work for you to access them. Some require a permit to work. Those that need a permit to work are called permit spaces (Permit required confined spaces).
What is a permit space?
A permit space is a confined space that requires a permit to work for you to work in such an area. A Permit space has one or more of the following characteristics as listed below. Those characteristics are equally the hazards involved in a permit space. Knowing these hazards can help you to identify what a permit space is.
There are two types of hazards involved in a permit space.
- Hazardous atmosphere
- Physical hazards.
These two hazards are what qualifies a space to be a permit space.
There is a presence of a hazardous atmosphere in such a space. It affects the air in the permit space and causes the death of entrants when entrants don’t obey precautions.
Hazardous atmosphere include
1. Corrosive atmosphere.
These are from manufacturing, biological and chemical processes. They can cause cancer under prolonged exposure.
2. Flammable atmosphere.
The flammable atmosphere includes explosive gases, liquids, vapours, mist, fibres, and dust. The gases are butane, propane and methane.
3. Oxygen displacement.
The place harbours oxygen displacement. Inert gases such as nitrogen, helium, argon and carbon (iv)oxide displace oxygen in the permit space.
4. Oxygen deficiency.
There is the presence of less oxygen in such permit spaces. Oxygen deficiency below 19.5 per cent is very harmful to the body. And it affects the heart rate, muscle coordination and even breathing. No woman being can survive in an oxygen-deficient environment.
5. Oxygen enrichment.
Oxygen enrichment occurs when you have high Oxygen concentration from some activities in the permit spaces like welding. And also from improper use of all surgeons supplied for breathing while in a confined space. A high amount of oxygen can result in fire or explosion.
6. Toxic dust, fumes and others
These are from manufacturing processes or stored materials. They can pose a threat to life and can cause irreversible adverse effects. It is advised not to assume that a permit space is safe to enter. Always carry out adequate examinations and tests before accessing any permit space.
Physical hazards can come in different forms. They can cause immediate danger to the entrants.
The physical hazards are
1. Access problems.
The entrant will find it difficult to enter or exit the space.
Our skin and eye absorb chemicals. Some chemicals can be corrosive, so it is expedient that the workers wear protective gear such as hand gloves overall and safety boots during its handling.
3. Falling objects.
There can be objects falling into space.
4. Poor illumination.
Poor illumination can occur in a permit space. It will make it difficult for workers to enter, work and even exit the permit space.
5. Material causing entrapment.
Materials that can entrap a worker exists in such an area. Such materials include loose materials and the sudden release of liquid into space.
Noise hazards exist in the space. High noise arising from work activities can impair hearing and cause hearing disability in the future. More so, my permit space can easily amplify noise due to its nature.
Wedding activities can give rise to radiation in a term in space. Other sources may include X-rays, isotopes and lasers.
6. Slippery surfaces.
Spills, condensation and leaks make the surface to be slippery. And can lead to the fall of persons.
7. Extreme temperature.
The permit space can offer varying temperatures. It could be extremely hot or cold if you’re working in hot or cold weather. The two extreme temperatures make the work hard to accomplish.
Permit space is a confined space prone to two types of hazards-physical hazards and a hazardous atmosphere. They are dangerous and can cause harm to persons and even death. No one should assume a permit-required space is safe to enter. Always engage the services of a competent person before you do so.
- What are your rights to compensation when you have an injury at work?
- Must do things you need to know before you enrol for ISO 45001:2018 STANDARD lead auditor course.
- Everything you need to know about a fire extinguisher ball
- 7 ways to improve employee safety at your facility
- What is HSE-Health, Safety and Environment?
Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.