Confined Space Entry (CSE) is a location that is substantially enclosed although not always entirely, and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby such as a lack of oxygen. As they are dangerous, it must be noted that any entry to confined spaces must be the only and final option in order to carry out work. Confined Spaces Regulations 1997. Approved Code of Practice, Regulations and guidance is for employees that work in Confined Spaces, those who employ or train such people and those who represent them.
Confined Space Identification
HSE classify Confined Spaces as any place, including any chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, well or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk, as outlined above.
Although, most confined spaces are easy to identify, identification is sometimes required as a confined space is not necessarily enclosed on all sides. Or exclusive to a small and/or difficult to work in space – grain silos and ships’ holds, can be very large. Although, these areas may not be that difficult to get in or out of, some have several entrances/exits, where others have large openings or are apparently easy to escape from. Some confined spaces (such as those used for spray painting in car repair centres) are used regularly by people in the course of their work.
There may be instances where a space itself may not be defined as a confined space, however, while work is ongoing, and until the level of oxygen recovers (or the contaminants have dispersed by ventilating the area), it is classified as a confined space. Scenarios include welding that would consume some of the available breathable oxygen, a spray booth during paint spraying, using chemicals for cleaning purposes which can add volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or acidic gases, or an area subjected to significant rust which has reduced available oxygen to dangerous levels.
What are the Rules and Regulations for Employers?
Under the new OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards, the obligation of the employer will depend on what type of employer they are. These include the controlling contractor, the host employer, the entry employer or sub-contractor.
The controlling contractor is the main point of contact for any information about PRCS on site.
The Host employer: The employer who owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place.
Employer can’t rely solely on the emergency services for rescue. A dedicated service must be ready to act in the event of an emergency. The arrangements for emergency rescue, required under regulation 5 of the confined space regulations, must be suitable and sufficient. If necessary, equipment to enable resuscitation procedures to be carried out should be provided. The arrangements should be in place before any person enters or works in a confined space.
The Controlling contractor: The employer who has overall responsibility for construction at the worksite.
The Entry employer or Sub-Contractor: Any employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit-required confined space.
Employees have the responsibility to raise concern such as helping highlight any potential workplace risks, ensuring that health and safety controls are practical and increasing the level of commitment to working in a safe and healthy way.
The Risks and Hazards: VOCs
A confined space that contains certain hazardous conditions may be considered a permit-required confined space under the standard. Permit-required confined spaces can be immediately dangerous to operator’s lives if they are not properly identified, evaluated, tested and controlled. Permit-required confined space can a defined as a confined space where there is a risk of one (or more) of the following:
- Serious injury due to fire or explosion
- Loss of consciousness arising from increased body temperature
- Loss of consciousness or asphyxiation arising from gas, fume, vapour, or lack of oxygen
- Drowning from an increase in the level of a liquid
- Asphyxiation arising from a free-flowing solid or being unable to reach a respirable environment due to being trapped by such a free-flowing solid
These arise from the following hazards:
- Flammable substances and oxygen enrichment
- Excessive heat
- Toxic gas, fume or vapours
- Oxygen deficiency
- Ingress or pressure of liquids
- Free-flowing solid materials
- Other hazards (such as exposure to electricity, loud noise or loss of structural integrity of the space) VOCs.
Intrinsically Safe and suitable products for Confined Space Safety
These products are Certified to meet local Intrinsically Safe Standards.
The Gas-Pro portable multi gas detector offers detection of up to 5 gases in a compact and rugged solution. It has an easy-to-read top mount display making it easy to use and optimal for confined space gas detection. An optional internal pump, activated with the flow plate, takes the pain out of pre-entry testing, and allows Gas-Pro to be worn either in pumped or diffusion modes.
Gas-Pro TK offers the same gas safety benefits as the regular Gas-Pro, while offering Tank Check mode which can auto-range between %LEL and %Volume for inerting applications.
T4 portable 4-in-1 gas detector provides effective protection against 4 common gas hazards: carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, flammable gases, and oxygen depletion. The T4 multi gas detector now comes with improved detection of pentane, hexane, and other long chain hydrocarbons.
Tetra 3 portable multi gas monitor can detect and monitor the four most common gases (carbon monoxide, methane, oxygen, and hydrogen sulphide), but also an expanded range: ammonia, ozone, sulphur dioxide, H2 filtered CO (for steel plants).