Any time somebody is working on a confined space, there are risks to life and limb. These risks have been clearly identified over time and legislation is in place across the states and territories in order to address them. While attention should always be paid to the specific laws in any jurisdiction, certain fundamentals should always be considered before work begins. What are these fundamentals?
Method of Communication
Firstly, all parties have to agree on an exact communication method. It may not always be possible to rely on verbal notification, so you may have to consider something else, like having a rope attached to the person remotely, which can be pulled in a certain way if there is a problem. You will also need to have a clear procedure in place for the observer, as far as contacting the authorities as soon as possible.
A risk assessment needs to be undertaken to identify the likelihood of any problems, so that rescue equipment can be made available. This equipment has to be inspected often so that it is always ready, and observers and rescuers need to be fully trained in how to use it when needed. It may be necessary to equip the worker going into the confined space with their own resuscitation equipment in some cases.
Any observers or rescuers standing by at the entrance to the confined space have to be not only trained, but also physically fit and able to carry out a rescue if needed. In turn, they need to be protected against similar risks that incapacitated the first worker should they have to enter, such as with a breathing apparatus.
The next thing to consider is the general operation of the business in the event of an emergency. Will it be necessary to shut down moving equipment or other processes before any rescue can take place? If so, other people responsible for those elements have to be trained and ready to do so.
It is ideal if the observers are always trained in first aid. If they are not, people who are suitably knowledgeable should be always available and ready to be called quickly.
Finally, a supervisor responsible for overall observation of the work should be trained in how to communicate with the emergency services when necessary. They should be clearly aware of the information that the services will require and ready to give that information without hesitation. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to notify the emergency services in advance, so they are aware that a particularly hazardous operation is imminent.
Much emphasis needs to be placed on training for not just those people who are entering the confined space, but all of the other people engaged in safeguarding the operation.Share