WHAT QUALIFIES AS A CONFINED SPACE?
A confined space is an enclosed area that has limited access used to enter and exit in order to perform work. Because of limited means of entry and exit, hazards may become present and can be harmful or even fatal for individuals who enter them. Confined spaces are typically designed for purposes such as storage, maintenance, or inspection, and can be found in various environments, including industrial facilities, construction sites, agriculture, and more. Common examples of confined spaces are silos, storage bins, vaults, cold storage, ship holds, manholes, tanks, attics, crawl spaces, tunnels, and certain types of equipment or machinery.
Confined spaces may have inadequate ventilation, which can lead to the accumulation of hazardous gasses, fumes, or airborne contaminants. Confined spaces can contain various hazards such as toxic gasses, flammable materials, engulfment risks, or physical hazards. These hazards can pose significant dangers to anyone inside the space.
With confined space, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires an evaluation of the workspace to determine if risks are present that could result in serious health issues or even death. If those conditions are present, it is considered a permit-required confined space. A permit-required confined space is anything that contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere, contains material with the potential to engulf someone entering the space, has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated, or contains any other safety or health concerns. OSHA requires these specific guidelines and regulations for working in confined spaces to protect the safety and health of workers.
It’s important to be made aware of the specific characteristics and hazards associated with confined spaces and to follow safety protocols, which may include permits, training, and equipment when entering or working in such areas to prevent accidents and ensure the well-being of individuals involved.
WHAT ARE THE SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR ENTERING A CONFINED SPACE?
Entering a confined space can be hazardous, especially when adding abrasive blasting. Limited entry means limited ability for ventilation. If a hazardous gas is present, the impact can be quick and the ability to escape the toxic environment can be delayed or difficult. The blasting process itself can also contribute to contaminants entering the air and poisoning the atmosphere within the space.
The challenges of mobility when blasting in a confined space can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to overcome getting in the space and being able to move around, but many times you also have additional equipment that creates waste from residue removal or as a byproduct of the blasting and then has to be removed using restricted means. It's crucial to follow specific safety procedures to protect the health and safety of individuals involved.
The exact procedures may vary depending on the location, type of confined space, and applicable regulations, but the following graphic below shows the most common steps and guidelines for entering a confined space safely.
Atmospheric hazards are the primary cause of unfavorable outcomes due to working in confined spaces. Harmful gasses can be colorless and odorless without instrument testing. Monitoring oxygen levels is also important and should be completed before entry. Blast hoods are required for all blasters as part of their PPE and are used as a safety precaution.
Once the confined space has been evaluated for risk, it’s important to isolate the space to prevent controllable hazards. Power to any equipment associated with the confined space must be disabled. This method is referred to as lockout/tagout.
Once in a confined space, you have to be able to see what you are doing. Natural light is not always available due to restricted openings so it’s important to have a portable light solution that is “hands-free” so that workers are still able to operate equipment and perform work. Lack of lighting and improper processes in confined spaces can create fear and put individuals in heightened emotional states.
Ensuring that emergency services, such as rescue teams, are readily available if needed is also important. Even with training and precautions, you will find it to be best practice to make the local fire department aware of any job performed in a confined space and that they have a safety extraction team. It’s important to always check and adhere to the specific regulations and guidelines of your region, as they may have additional requirements or variations in procedures for confined space entry. Safety is paramount when working in confined spaces, and a comprehensive approach is essential to mitigate risks effectively.
Confined space can be scary and intimidating, but putting proper safety controls in place can reduce risks and enable quick action to minimize disastrous situations.
Confined spaces often have strict safety and regulatory requirements. We can perform our services in compliance with these regulations to help our clients maintain a safe working environment. We have the equipment and expertise to ensure that the confined space is properly prepared for any work that needs to be conducted.
Many confined spaces require protective coatings to prevent corrosion and maintain structural integrity. We can efficiently remove old coatings and apply new ones, ensuring that surfaces are adequately protected against environmental conditions.
Regular inspections of confined spaces are crucial for safety and compliance. Our services can help ensure that surfaces are clean and free of contaminants, making it easier for inspectors to assess the condition of the space and identify any potential issues. Our expertise in abrasive blasting and industrial cleaning can save time and resources in confined space maintenance. Our techniques are highly efficient and can prepare surfaces quickly and effectively.
By removing rust, corrosion, and other surface contaminants, Blast It Clean helps prevent the deterioration of equipment and structures within confined spaces. This proactive approach can extend the lifespan of assets and reduce maintenance costs. We know that time is money and we can tailor our services to the specific needs of each confined space. Whether it's removing hazardous materials, cleaning tanks, or preparing surfaces for inspections, we can provide custom solutions to meet the unique challenges of each space.
In an emergency or unexpected situation within a confined space, we can provide quick and effective cleaning and surface preparation services to address the issue promptly. We are experienced in managing and disposing of waste materials in an environmentally responsible manner, ensuring that hazardous materials or waste generated during the cleaning process are handled in compliance with environmental regulations.
Working with an industrial cleaning and abrasive blasting company like Blast It Clean can help facility operators and owners ensure that their confined spaces are safe, well-maintained, and compliant with relevant regulations and industry standards. It can also streamline maintenance efforts and extend the life of critical assets. So, when you partner with us, you're not just getting a service – you're gaining a reliable partner who's there to make your confined spaces safer, cleaner, and more efficient. If you have a confined space that needs a team of professionals, call Blast It Clean. We've got your back!