Monday, June 21, 2021

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) - Confined spaces


What here we mean by a confined space? A confined Space (CS) is an enclosed or partially enclosed area/space that is big enough for a worker to enter.  It’s not intended for human occupancy and may have a restricted entrance or exit. Confined spaces can be hazardous because of oxygen deficiency or the presence of gases, such as CO2 or nitrogen. Even just putting your head inside a confined space is considered a confined space entry and can be dangerous.

Confined spaces in craft breweries and distilleries include the following:

  • Trailers used for fresh or spent grains
  • Grain bins and silos
  • water tanks, beer, yeast, and cleaning chemicals
  • Brewing industry equipment, such as mash tuns, lauter tuns, kettles, and whirlpools
  • Grain-dust collectors

Risk control

Use cleaning-in-place (CIP) systems as much as possible to avoid the need to enter a confined space. Ensure that equipment and tanks are designed and built to eliminate or minimize the need for internal manual cleaning. Use an inspection mirror to inspect inside the confined space without putting your head into its opening.
Don’t put your head near the opening of a tank or vessel unless you are certain that space has been cleaned beforehand.
Install or Post safety warning signs at the entry points of all confined spaces.
If workers are not allowed to enter a confined space, make sure the signs state that and workers know they aren’t allowed to enter.
If you need to enter a confined space, get a qualified person to help develop and implement a written confined space entry program for your workplace. Your program must include the following:
  • Assign responsibility for the administration of the program to someone who is trained to manage it.
  • Identify and make an inventory of all confined spaces areas.
  • Ensure that all workers entering a confined space are trained to do so.  This includes training in rescue procedures.
Employers must ensure there are safe work procedures for entry into and work in confined spaces. You’ll need a qualified person to assess the hazards of all confined spaces and to help you develop a confined space entry procedure. 

The procedure should address the following items:

  • Lockout material-conveyance equipment that transports material to or from the space if the material could present a hazard.
  • Ventilate the space with clean respirable air using appropriate mechanical ventilation equipment. Most deaths in confined spaces result from oxygen deficiency or exposure to toxic gases.
  • Verify precautions and test the atmosphere with appropriate gas testing equipment before entry.
  • Use standby workers to monitor the well-being of workers entering the confined space.
  • Ensure the area around fermentation tanks is free from hazardous levels of CO2.
  • Use gas-testing equipment to monitor CO2 and oxygen levels when workers are inside the tank.

Employers should also develop rescue procedures that specify the following:

  • How to summon in-house rescuers or third-party rescuers, such as the local fire department
  • Coordination of rescue activities
  • A procedure for performing the rescue
  • Rescue equipment and PPE

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