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Confined spaces are largely enclosed areas which are not necessarily designed for people where workers can enter and perform certain jobs. Confined spaces have restricted means of entry or exit, with high risk to workers of explosion, fire, asphyxiation, loss of consciousness or drowning. Confined spaces may include vessels, tanks, storage bins, silos, vaults, hoppers, pits, tunnels, manholes, duct work, equipment housings, and pipelines. OSHA describes permit-required confined spaces to have one or more of the following characteristics: spaces that contain potential hazardous materials and atmosphere, presence of materials with potential to entrant or engulf, have floors that sloping downward or inward or walls converging inwards, areas that can asphyxiate or trap an entrant, and areas with other health hazards such as exposed wires, heat stress, and unguarded machinery.
Some of the hazards found in confined spaces may include toxic atmosphere, oxygen deficiency, oxygen enrichment, flammable or explosive atmospheres, flowing liquid or free-flowing solids, and excessive heat. An area is considered to have a toxic atmosphere because of different hazardous substances caused by disturbance of sludge or other deposits, leftovers from previous storage or processing, presence of flames or fire within the space, seepage from improperly isolated plant, or formation during work operation that are carried out in space. A toxic atmosphere may cause acute and chronic effects, as well as unconsciousness, impairment of judgement and death. Oxygen deficiency can be caused by absorption of air on steel surfaces, air gas displacement, and chemical reactions such as burning or rusting of chemicals. On the other hand, oxygen enrichment or excessive amount of oxygen is brought about by combustible materials, resulting in increased risk of fire or explosion. A flammable atmosphere may cause explosion, which results in hot gas expulsion and structure disintegration. Presence of flowing liquids in a confined space may cause suffocation, drowning, burns and other injuries, while solids in powder can be distributed in a confined space causing asphyxiation.
The elements you need to consider for a safe system of working in a confined space include permit-to-work procedure, training, competence, supervision and suitability, gas purging and ventilation, dangerous residues, respiratory protective equipment, mechanical, electrical and process isolation, monitoring and testing of the atmosphere, safe use of equipment, communications, access and egress, explosive or flammable atmospheres and presence of combustible materials. Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a document containing important information about the potential hazards (fire, reactivity, environmental and health) and how to be able to work safely with the chemical product. It is important to have a focal point for development of complete program to prevent health and safety issues.Finding Ways To Keep Up With Options