Confined Space Entry is a complex topic to say the least. These entries are different every time even though the same equipment is used each time. The same crew may be utilized as well, however conditions more than likely will differ on each occasion. These could include toxic fumes, gas leaks and reduced oxygen levels. These conditions are so detrimental that you could pass out at any moment. For this reason, permits are required as enforced by Confined Space Regulation.
These spaces may be large enough to enter, but that is about it. Movement is quite limited there. People can work in them but certainly not for extended periods.
There are varieties of different places that qualify as confined spaces. These would be pits, vaults, hoppers, storage bins, vessels and tanks. Hazards are different depending on the kind of space involved. You need to be aware of spaces that contain toxic or flammable vapors and gases. There may be and excess of oxygen or a decrease of oxygen, either situation is not healthy. Cramped areas could cause suffocation to happen.
One-way to avoid getting involved with these hazards is to try doing the work outside of the confined space. For practical reasons this is not always possible. The workers will have to establish facilities in which to work in and permit space entry programs are needed to regulate entrance into the confined spaces. At all danger points, an entry permit in writing is to be used. Danger signs should be visible at all entry points where the hazardous work is going to begin. These signs will indicate either that the space is off limits or entry is only permissible with a written permit.
Training is provided as part of the course. There is a variety of posts for which training is required and these include, entrant attendant or entry supervisor. Determining acceptable entry conditions, terminating entry projects as well as overseeing these are the responsibility of the entry supervisor.
Another important responsibility of the supervisor is to manage atmospheric testing. Three different types of tests exist for this kind of testing. The order in which they are done which is very specific is, determining the oxygen content, next to see if flammable gases are present and lastly to identify contaminants especially if they are toxic.
The oxygen content test is first and the level cannot be lower than nineteen and a half percent, this will prohibit the person from doing physical work, as he will not be able to breath. Conversely, an oxygen level of twenty-three and a half percent or higher could be the catalyst to cause an explosion or fire.
Secondly, the gases and vapors need to be limited to fewer than ten percent of their inflammable limit. In this environment, there are many flammable gases to be found.
Confined Space Entry work is clearly very complex and potentially harmful. The right type of person needs to be selected to do this work. He will also require comprehensive training for the job.