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TOPIC: Confined-spaces

A Close Look at Confined Spaces: 4 Steps to Protect Your Employees

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fatal injuries in confined spaces average out to 92 per year (almost 2 per week). Confined spaces present a unique challenge and can often be more hazardous than regular workspaces. It is important for you to take the necessary steps to provide your employees with the proper equipment, training and programs to ensure they stay safe.

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A Close Look at Confined Spaces

I’m writing about confined spaces today because they are often overlooked in the workplace from a safety standpoint… and there is an important policy change in three weeks.

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The Key to Accurate Gas Detection

Last week I focused on Confined Spaces. This week I’d like to address Gas Detection, which
is especially important in Confined Spaces.

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The Skinny on Confined Spaces

Today’s blog is on an often overlooked area of safety concern – Confined Spaces.

As you can image, there are many workplaces that are considered "confined spaces" because while they may not provide the comforts of a larger area, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs.

A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include places such as manholes, pipelines, tunnels, tanks, ducts and more.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses the term "permit-required confined space" (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

Our safety professionals often see firsthand many workplace spaces that are considered to be “confined” because they hinder the activities of employees who must enter into, work in or exit from them. Our experts often note that many employees who work in confined spaces also face increased risk of exposure to serious physical injury from hazards such as entrapment, engulfment and hazardous atmospheric conditions.

OSHA has documented that confinement itself may pose entrapment hazards and work in confined spaces may keep employees closer to hazards such as machinery components than they would be otherwise. For example, confinement, limited access and restricted airflow can result in hazardous conditions that would not normally arise in an open workplace.

OSHA’s standard for confined spaces (29 CFR 1910.146) contains the requirements for practices and procedures to protect employ-ees in general industry from the hazards of entering permit spaces.

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