6 Confined space hazards that can pose a problem to the entrants.
Confined space hazards pose many problems and can even result in an accident for workers when those hazards are not managed properly.
In our workplace, there are a lot of confined space entry jobs, and all of them have one form of confined space hazards or the other, so it is pertinent that adequate measures are put in place to control the hazards.
What is a confined space?
Many areas can be considered confined spaces in the workplace; as we all know, confined spaces are not designed for people to have a permanent stay, but they are large enough to allow people to enter and perform their jobs.
The list of confined spaces are tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, pipelines, ductwork, etc.
Even though people are allowed to work in confined spaces, they have limited or restricted means of entry and exit and are not designed for continuous occupancy.
OSHA definition of Confined Space.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA USA uses the term “permit-required confined space” for confined spaces, and they describe it as confined space with one or more of the following characteristics below.
- It contains or has the potential to prevent a hazardous atmosphere.
- Contains material with the potential to engulf an entrant.
- It has a wall that converges inwards or floors that slope downwards, which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant or contain a recognized safety or health hazard.
However, in this article, we will highlight the significant confined space hazards that are seen in the workplace.
1. Oxygen deficiency.
There is always an oxygen deficiency in the confined space. This oxygen deficiency could result from air displacement by another gas, such as carbon IV oxide.
The various biological processes or chemical reactions, such as burning rusting of metals, can give rise to oxygen deficiency.
In addition, air absorption onto steel surfaces can result in oxygen deficiency in confined spaces.
2. Toxic atmosphere.
A toxic atmosphere is one of the hazards prevalent in the confined space inside a confined space. Because it is toxic, it can lead to various health effects, such as unconsciousness, impairment of judgment, and even death.
3. Oxygen enrichment.
Enrichment in a confined space can result in fire and explosion due to oxygen enrichment in the presence of combustible materials.
4. Explosive atmospheres.
These are from flammable liquids, gases, or combustible dust from the confined space. And they present a risk of fire or explosion just the same way oxygen enrichment does.
5. Excessive heat.
Most times, this poses significant harm to workers working inside a confined space. That is always met with excessive heat due to the enclosed nature of the limited space. This heat could lead to heat stress or heat stroke for the entrants. Sometimes, lack of ventilation and using PPE could increase the risk of this Hazard.
6. Free-flowing liquids or solids.
These are liquids and solids that find their way inside the confined space, and they can pose a series of dangers, such as drowning, suffocation, body injury, and burn.
Confined Space Hazard Control Measures.
The first step in putting control measures to confine space hazards is to identify the prevalent hazards in that confined space. Identification of these hazards will help to prevent injuries and even fatalities. The OSHA US has put in place various control measures against permits requiring confined space hazards, and putting them into action will prevent these hazards from causing harm to persons at work.
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