Safety Equipment Commonly Used in Confined Spaces

Safety Equipment Commonly Used in Confined Spaces

23rd April 2020

Working in confined spaces has been a major cause of concern for decades now. These spaces have a wide variety of hazards that could result in injuries and even deaths. Employers and authorities are constantly working on ways to eliminate the need for workers to enter such spaces. This includes changing processes and implementation of new technologies that help enhance smooth and safe operations, such as using CCTVs for monitoring. 

Unfortunately, it might not be possible to completely avoid accessing confined areas in your workplace. In such a scenario, employers and safety officers have to implement ways to best protect the workers who access the areas. The following are some of the commonly used pieces of equipment in confined spaces. 

 

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Proper PPE is vital when working within a confined area. You’ll need to conduct a risk assessment to determine the nature of protection you’ll need, depending on the nature of the space and risks identified. Some of the commonly used PPE include head protection, hearing protection, gloves, eye protection, safety footwear, overalls, and specialist items like wet suits and waders.

 

  1. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

Safety officers should determine whether it’ll be necessary to provide workers entering a confined space with RPE. This should involve confirming whether the RPE will be suitable to effectively protect the worker against the likely risks they might face. There are four types of RPEs available: oxygen rebreathers, filter masks, air-line breathing apparatus, and self-contained compressed air breathing apparatus. You need to consider the effective working duration of the RPE selected to ensure sufficient protection is given during an emergency. For instance, supplying a filter mask to a worker who may encounter oxygen deficiency might be pointless.

 

  1. Gas Detectors/Monitors

Dealing with vapours and gases can become challenging, more so since they can be colourless and odourless. Which is why having gas detectors is very essential to test the area within a confined space prior to entry and during operations. The equipment should be relevant to the expected contaminants for it to be effective.

 

  1. Fall Arrest Devices and Harnesses

Fall arrest devices can keep you safe when ascending or descending safety ladders or foot irons to access confined spaces. Harnesses enable for safe and effective lowering and lifting of workers. Harnesses have varying designs. Harnesses made for confined spaces should be suitable for lowering and raising a worker, an unconscious casualty, and compatible to be connected to a fall arrest device.

 

  1. Lighting & Electrical Equipment

Most confined spaces usually hardly receive enough natural light. You may, therefore, need to install lighting systems within the area. The lighting and electrical equipment used in confined spaces should be rated and approved as explosion-proof for maximum safety when working in the areas.

 

  1. Lifelines

Lifelines come in handy to allow for the recovery of a victim should an incident occur. They also ensure efficient maintenance of contact between team members.

 

  1. Forced Venting

Forced venting facilitates effective extraction of any harmful substances inside a confined space before entry and during operations to ensure a safe atmosphere. 

The Bottom Line

Before using any equipment, ensure it’s suitable for use in a confined space. For instance, equipment being used in flammable areas should be flameproof and non-sparking. The ventilation system should also be powerful and open before anyone enters the confined space and continuously while they are inside to ensure the atmosphere is safe. The ventilation line should also be close to the working face at all times. All employees working in confined spaces should also be trained on how to respond to different emergencies.