As you know, you have a duty to provide a safe work environment for your employees. This includes employees who work in confined spaces.
To protect your workers, you must be aware of the following hazards…
Watch out for these potential hazards if your employees work in confined spaces
Hazard #1: Oxygen deficiency
According to the Health&Safety Advisor, the air we breathe normally contains about 21% oxygen. This is the optimum level for human performance. At lower levels, we soon experience fatigue, headaches and impaired mental functioning.
At even lower levels, we could collapse, lose consciousness and suffer respiratory failure, cardiac arrest and then death.
Hazard #2: Flammable gases or explosive atmospheres
This is when a flammable gas or vapour is present in quantities 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
Toxic vapours could result from known materials in work areas that are inadequately ventilated by natural or mechanical means.
Toxic vapours may also arise from sludge or scales or slow chemical reactions which, in time, allow significant concentrations to build up.
Is there a way to eliminate hazards associated with working in confined spaces?
Yes, there is.
Simply conduct a risk assessment and provide a control measure for each and every hazard.
Essentially, your goal is to reduce the hazard to a level where there's no longer a danger to your workers. If you can't do this, your workers must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. You must provide any PPE they need.