Confined Space Entry

If you’re sitting in your small office right now, looking at a stack of paper that's about to bury your desk and wondering if this falls into the category of "confined spaces”, it doesn't. Without minimizing the threat to you posed by all that piled-up paperwork, on the jobs that HK staff perform, confined spaces can be extremely dangerous areas in which to work

Extra Caution Required
In our profession, confined spaces are areas that are big enough to enter, have limited means of access and egress and are not designed for continuous occupancy. They pose some clear, increased risks. Add to these basic conditions a hazardous atmosphere, the chance of engulfment, sloping or converging walls or floor or any other hazard that can cause an injury or adverse health effect. Then you have a situation that requires extra caution and coordination to ensure employees and employers are aware and protected. If you ask our friends at OSHA and ANSI, they have quite a bit to say on the topic and if you’re suffering from insomnia, you could try reading through it. Instead, conside these highlights.

The Permission Slip
When we hear "permit," we should think "permission." Why? Someone has already assessed the space in question, determined that it falls into this category, found it to have one or more hazards and concluded that no one should enter it without taking some precautions. As you fill out a permit, you evaluate hazards and implement controls. After you do this, the entry supervisor gives permission to enter.

The Lazy Guy Outside the Hole
Attendant duties are another hot topic. Contrary to common thought, an attendant is not just another way for a contractor to bill out a few more guys on a project. The attendant has the most important job function during the entry. He must monitor the entrant's conditions, as well as conditions inside and around the space. Both figuratively and literally, no attendant means no entry.

"Looks Like Air to Me"
Atmospheric monitoring is another part of confined space entry, but just what are the monitors expecting to find? Most commonly, they check the air for oxygen levels and the presence of flammable and toxic gasses. These numbers tell you what personal protective equipment to wear or respiratory protection you might need. They might also tell you to delay an entry until conditions improve.

If all this still leaves you wondering about your office, you may want to post a permit on the door, get an air monitor and have the new guy sit right outside and attend to your well being.

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