Workers’ safety is the topmost priority in the construction industry. Those working in confined spaces can attest just how risky it is if atmospheric testing is not performed and if it does not meet OSHA General Industry standards. The confined space air monitoring equipment used onsite should also comply with Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations.
Why Is It Necessary to Test the Atmosphere in a Confined Space?
As per the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.146 (c) subsection (C), the internal atmosphere of an enclosed space should be tested using calibrated direct reading equipment. This ensures that the confined space meets industry standards for oxygen content, flammable gases and vapors as well as possible toxic contaminants in the air. It will not just happen at one time but should be done in a continuous manner with real-time engine monitoring especially if you have workers inhabiting a confined space.
But first, what is atmospheric testing and why do you need it for workers in confined spaces?
There are two reasons why atmospheric testing is required:
- To evaluate hazards of the permit space. To complete this, you need confined space air monitoring equipment to pinpoint and evaluate hazardous atmospheres. At this point, the test will help identify what chemical hazards are potentially present in space’s atmosphere. The steps that your company should follow along with the conditions you need to meet should also be identified. This will help ensure that the conditions in the atmosphere are safe for your worker to enter the space.
- To verify that the entry conditions to enter that space is acceptable. This is done to ensure that whatever chemical hazards present in the confined space are below the levels required for safe entry. The test will also meet the conditions stipulated on the permit. Before your workers enter the space, the atmosphere needs to be tested using a calibrated direct-reading equipment that will test these conditions as follows and in order:
- The level or content of oxygen
- The level of flammable gases and vapors in the air
- What air contaminants or potential toxins present in the space
What Common Risks You Should Be Aware of in a Confined Space?
Since confined spaces refer to enclosed spaces such as container, pit, any vessel, bund, cellar, chamber or similar areas, working in such conditions is prone to harm, accident or injury. With the help of confined space air monitoring equipment, other risks may also be avoided like the following:
- electrical hazards
- bacterial or biological issues
- heat stress
- possible contact with rotating parts, and
- other incidents due to limited visibility
Workers in such areas may experience oxygen deficiency, inhale toxic gases, suffer from fire or explosion and have restricted entry and exit routes. To prevent gas leaks problems, make sure to have an emission monitoring system in place. There is air quality equipment that has direct reading and these are useful in detecting any emissions like gas leaks.
For workers in a mine, it is important to have mining safety technology to ensure that the area remains compliant with industry standards. When dealing with combustion in enclosed industrial spaces, having continuous emission monitoring is important to keep your workers safe.
Need help Assessing Your Confined Space?
If you are an employer, you need to identify all confined spaces and prevent unauthorized persons from accessing them. With the help of experts, develop and maintain a written space program along with appointing competent persons for any hazard assessment. Find a company to help train your staff and provide you with the right equipment, too.
All of these will ensure that your workers know exactly what is required when it comes to confined space and emergency procedures. They themselves should be able to identify existing and potential hazards and effectively control them. The use of recommended protective equipment like PPE, gas detection and ventilation is also a must for workers in confined spaces. Check out other articles on our blog to learn more.