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Three hazards to watch out for when working in confined spaces

by , 01 April 2015
Today we're giving you detailed informtion about the hazards your employees might confront when working in confined spaces. There are several rules that vary when working in such spaces and the risks are also much higher whenever your employees work here.

Read on to discover why...

Before we look at the different hazards, take a look at these stats to see which of the potential hazards are most common:

• Almost 65% of incidents are caused by lack of oxygen or toxic atmospheres;
• 15% Involve explosions or fire;
• 15% Involve entrapment, crushing or falling objects;
• 5% Are due to electrocution, temperature extremes or other factors.

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Here are the three hazards to watch out for when working in confined spaces

Hazard #1: Oxygen deficiency

The air you breathe normally contains about 21% oxygen. This is the optimum level for human consumption. At lower levels, you soon experience fatigue, headaches and impaired mental functioning.

At even lower levels, you could suffer physical collapse, unconsciousness, complete respiratory failure, cardiac arrest and then death.

Hazard #2: Flammable gases or explosive atmospheres

This is when there's a flammable gas or vapour and the levels are between the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) and the Upper Explosive Limit (UEL). These limits define the explosive range, which varies from one material to another.

Hazard #3: Toxic vapours

There are situations in which a gas releases toxic vapours. This usually occurs in places which aren't properly ventilated. You can also get toxic vapours from sludge or slow chemical reactions which, in time, let substantial concentrations build up.

Please note that it's important to identify which toxic atmospheres you can find in your workplace and where a vapour release, a leak or damage to a valve, can happen!

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