Confined Space: Deadly If Not Prepared

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | April 2010 Vol. 65 No. 4

“These systems,” Lastinger says, “are available from numerous manufacturers, and range from systems designed to be used daily for lowering and raising entrants into the confined space to others that are basically fall protection, with an emergency retrieval feature, for people who typically enter and exit a confined space using a ladder or some other means.”

Accidents happen
Even through proven safety procedures are in place, employers have trained personnel and provided the necessary safety equipment, accidents can still result in death. After years of rescue work, Lastinger is familiar with the causes of confined space accidents.

“Complacency often is a cause,” he says. “And, too often, familiarity with the job is to blame. Experienced workers get so comfortable with what they do that they get careless and take shortcuts to save time. They may decide some safety procedures are unnecessary -- they’ve skipped them many times with no incidents, they tell themselves. That can be a fatal mistake.”

Failure to monitor the atmosphere and properly ventilate the confined space invites disaster.

Some bosses and crew members may decide safety “takes too much time” and don’t understand the need and importance of some procedures. Other times employers don’t monitor work sites to ensure safety procedures are followed.

Lack of training and inexperience may result in crew members not understanding the hazards of confined space. Improper training can result in personnel not comprehending how to correctly use safety equipment. Training conducted in a language workers do not understand is ineffective.

With all the risks inherent with working in confined spaces, Lastinger says it can be successfully performed by following sound safety practices, including utilizing the entry permits, performing atmospheric monitoring, installing ventilation and using all required safety equipment every time a worker enters a permitted space.

“You may only get one chance to get it right, so do it right the first time,” he concludes.

RescuePros, (863) 581-7749,

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