Article provided by the CWEA Safety Committee
By Michael S. Estep
Confined Space work is inherently dangerous. There is nothing normal or routine about confined space work. It has many dangers that are often unseen and hidden. Often this work is approached in a very relaxed and careless manner. Dangers are lurking everywhere but are often not evaluated and prepared for.
Dangers in confined space work come in many forms and to the untrained worker many small dangers can potentially cause injury or death. Proper preparation, evaluation and training are the keys to surviving work in these “Dangerous Places”.
Failing to plan for a rescue situation is one of the most critical and important steps in confined space work. Often forgotten and overlooked. This lack of a rescue plan is dangerous and places the lives of workers in jeopardy. One of the most important components of confined space work is often forgotten about or not planned for.
One of the most important questions asked prior to any confined space work is “How are we going to get the worker or workers out?” Giving thought to rescue is critical and important to the safety of all who perform confined space work. It is not only planning and having a rescue plan but assuring that the plan is effective and going to work.
Not having an effective rescue plan is just as hazardous as not having any rescue plan. Proper procedures, equipment and training are an integral part of the effective rescue plan. Developing the plan prior to entry and continuing to evaluate the plan as the work progresses. Effective rescue plans have multiple components to assure the ability to recover in the event that the primary plan does not work. Anticipation of failure and planning for that failure is a key structure to and overall effective rescue plan.
Employers need to be diligent in assessing hazards in confined space work. They need to develop procedures for safe work in confined spaces, provide proper training, and provide proper equipment. Essential to any confined space entry is the necessary and required procedures, equipment and training to assure an effective rescue plan and operation.
If you want to stay alive you need to be able to get out of the dark!
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