What 3 Things Define a Confined Space?
Confined spaces bring along many risks and hazards, especially in the workplace.
These spaces are partially or fully enclosed with limited access, exit, or entry. Also, these spaces are not designed for permanent or continuous occupancy.
Think crawl spaces, attics, industrial machinery storage areas like tanks, underground tunnels, small rooms or silos.
These tight and often poorly ventilated spaces provide a breeding ground for dangerous fumes, gases and lack of oxygen.
Not forgetting, getting stuck or trapped can be catastrophic.
And that’s why you need to understand which areas in your workspace fit the confined spaces category so that you can have the necessary training to reduce the risks.
So, here are the three characteristics of a confined workspace in general industry.
1. Not Large Enough and Configured for Work
A large enough space does not mean a big fancy office.
It means a space big enough that workers can perform their duties safely and comfortably.
Because if the working area is confined, it could lead to workers getting stuck or injured.
As for configuring to work, it means checking the following area:
- Is there proper ventilation?
- Is the space lit well enough for workers to see without straining?
- Can workers move around easily?
If your working area does not tick all these boxes, it is on the road to being a confined space.
2. Limited or Restricted Means for Entry or Exit
Another thing to check is whether you can access the space.
Can your workers enter and exit the working space easily? Do your employees need help or struggle to get into the working space?
Spaces that may have limited or restricted means of entry or exit include small hatches, narrow stairways or even crawl spaces
These spaces can make it very risky for workers, especially in an emergency, as they can get stuck or injured.
3. Not Designed for Continuous Employee Occupancy
Finally, a space becomes confined when not designed for prolonged employee occupancy.
What do we mean by this?
Normally, we expect employees to spend more time in an office or warehouse, as these are spacious spaces where they can move around easily.
However, confined spaces are tight as well as cramped and even the employees are uncomfortable spending significant time there. Therefore, workers enter briefly to perform a specific task like maintenance
So What Is a Confined Space?
According to OSHA, a confined space should fit into all these categories. Not two.
But all three.
Therefore if you have a space that is not large enough, configured for work, has limited or restricted means for entry/exit and is not designed for continuous use, then that is a confined space.
So, with confined spaces, you must ensure your employees are properly trained before entering the area.
Also, you should follow proper safety protocols for each factor, as shown in the table below.
||What to do as an employer
|Not large enough and configured for work
||Ensure that your workers understand the importance of initiating constant communication with their colleagues outside the confined space.
These include using special codes, hand signals or providing walkie-talkies to ensure communication is not cut off due to lack of connection.
|Limited or restricted means for entry or exit
||Ensure you provide proper ventilation and lighting to these spaces.
|Not designed for continuous employee occupancy
||You need to ensure your workers wear protective gear and know what to do in an emergency.
Get Confined Space Training
As an employer, you need to invest in confined space training.
Confined spaces are very dangerous. Imagine a situation where an untrained worker decides to go access industrial machinery to carry out some maintenance.
They will not be aware that they need to wear protective gear without the proper training.
Also, without proper training, you as an employer will not understand that any part of your premises needs to be well-ventilated, have enough lighting and be free of any substances on the floor that could cause injuries.
But not all training is helpful.
Therefore you need experts like us to train you in all things confined spaces.
At Clockwork, we are highly equipped to offer workplace training as we have specialized knowledge and experience.
We also recommend the best protective gear you need in your workplace that helps reduce risks, thus saving you on costs (to treat any injuries or loss of property) in the long run.
Contact us today to access hands-on training available at your workplace that will help your workers develop the skills and techniques they need to stay safe in confined spaces.