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Friday, May 1, 2020

Risk Assessment for Working in Confined Space

What does confined space mean?

Any enclosure type of place or object that has very limited access and egress and less quantity of oxygen in it called the confined space, e.g. water tanks, big vessel, containers, pit, chamber creates conditions that give rise to a likelihood of an accident, harm or injury of such a nature as to require comprehensive emergency action due to flammable or explosive atmospheres, harmful gas, fume or vapour, free-flowing solid or an increasing level of liquid, excess of oxygen and excessively high temperature and the lack or reasonably foreseeable lack of oxygen
What are the possible key features which represent a confined space?

The main attributes of confined space include:

Space must be considerably fringe
There must be a risk of at least one or more hazards described above taking place within the designated space The risk of severe human  injuries or ill health from the hazard must be created by the rectitude of the enclosed nature of that space. The possible potential injury must be very serious and be such as to need emergency action and plan to rescue the person involved immediately.

What are the hazards related to confined spaces?

Most of the hazards correlated to confined spaces include:

Toxic Atmosphere.

A toxic atmosphere may create several acute ill health effects, including impairment of unconsciousness and or death. The question of why a toxic atmosphere may occur is possible due to the presence of hazardous substances and or chemicals. And again the question of why do these substances may be present in the Confined Space? And the answer could be for various reasons such as remaining from previous processing or storage, arising from the disturbance of sludge and other deposits, the presence of a fire or flames within the space, seepage from the improperly isolated adjoining plant, formation during the work processes carried out in the space and finally, being released from under scale and in brickwork as a result of the work process.

Oxygen Deficiency

The second reason could be the deficiency of Oxygen that can be lacking a confined space for the multiple reasons, and some of them could be displacement of air by another gas and or gases, several biological processes or chemical reactions (such as rotting of organic matter, rusting of metals, burning, etc.), absorption of air onto steel surfaces, especially where these are damp

Oxygen Enrichment

Another cause is the excess of oxygen, in the presence of combustible materials, results in an increased risk of fire and explosion. Some materials, which do not burn in air, may burn actively or even spontaneously in an enriched oxygen atmosphere.

Free Flowing Solids

Liquids and or solids can easily flow into the confined space causing drowning, suffocation, burns and other injuries. 

Excessive Heat

The enclosed nature of a confined space can enhance the risk of heatstroke from heat stress if such hazardous conditions are hotter. The risk may be provoked by the wearing of personal protective equipment or by lack of ventilation system.

What are the legal requirements for confined space entry?

Each state or country has its occupational Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Confined Spaces) Regulations, rules cover all work about confined spaces. Being a health and safety practitioner, one should abide by and follow all such regulations to avoid any legal or severe consequences.
What must we look for in a confined space for carrying out risk assessment?
While carrying out a risk assessment it is very important to ensure that all risks associated with the hazards mentioned here are evaluated and controlled e.g., Oxygen deficiency or enrichment, residues, structure or layout and contamination.
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