Confined Spaces CBT Script Welcome / Splash Screen Welcome to the Florida Department of Transportation’s computer-based training series on OSHA Construction Awareness Training. This is Chapter 15, Confined Spaces. To begin, select the start button or press Shift+N on your keyboard. Welcome A Help button is located at the top of each page in this course. Selecting this button will bring up a PDF file with information on how to navigate and use this course. You may select the Help button now if you would like to review this useful information before you begin the course. Introduction Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered to be “confined” because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter into, work in or exit from them. OSHA uses the term "confined space" to describe such spaces. In addition, there are many instances where employees who work in confined spaces also face increased risk of exposure to serious hazards such as entrapment, engulfment and hazardous atmospheric conditions. Working in confined spaces can keep employees closer to dangers such as asphyxiating atmospheres or the moving parts of machinery than is normally desirable. Construction workers (in process vessels or buildings), road crews (in excavations or tunnels), fire fighters (who can breathe toxic fumes created as the components of a building burn), policemen, sanitation workers (in sewers, for instance) and others can easily find themselves in dangerous confined-space. OSHA uses the term "permit-required confined space" (permit space) to describe those spaces that both meet the definition of "confined space" and pose health or safety hazards. OSHA requires workers to have a permit to enter these spaces. Confined spaces in the construction industry are addressed separately in Standard 29 CFR 1926. More information about correlating documents for the construction sector may be found at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/construction.html. Definition: What Is a Confined Space? A confined space is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work, is not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee, and has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit. On a Florida highway construction site, the most likely types of confined spaces will be those encountered during excavation or demolition during the building or repair of roads, or during repair or construction of sewer lines. 1
A permit-required confined space has one or more of these characteristics: • • •
Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere Contains a material with the potential to engulf someone who enters the space Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross section Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards
OSHA Standard for Confined Spaces Employers must evaluate their workplaces to determine if spaces are permit spaces. If a workplace contains permit spaces, the employer must inform exposed employees of their existence, location and the hazards they pose by posting danger signs or using an equally effective means. If employees are not to enter and work in permit spaces, employers must take effective measures to prevent them from entering these spaces. If employees are expected to enter permit spaces, the employer must develop a written permit space program and make it available to employees or their representatives. CASE STUDY Other than the more obvious, simplistic answers involving getting a muscle cramp or haning a limited range of motion, there are serious safety issues to consider when entering a confined space. A largely enclosed area most likely presents a limited number of options for entering and exiting, and the ease of doing so may be compromised by narrow passages, greater-than-usual depths, etc. And of course it is easier for hazardous fumes or gases to build up to toxic levels than it would be in open air. The following story illustrates by one of the many unfortunate scenarios highway workers and their associates can face on a job. In the process of constructing an interstate highway, a contractor had to build several thousand feet of new sanitary sewer line that would tie into an existing line. The existing line had to be kept in service during construction, so a bypass line was built around the connection point of the new and existing lines. When sewage from the bypass line seeped into the new line and accumulated over time, a gasoline engine – driven pump was brought in to remove it – with tragic consequenses. The engine required laborers to enter the new line through a manhole, walk 1200 feet to the pump, fuel the engine, start it and then exit. On the day of the accident, the manhole the workers uses was covered and framed over in order to have concrete poured the following day. So a forman and a worker (his son) entered at the point of construction instead – 3000 feet from the pump. The foreman stopped to examine something while the worker proceeded to the pump. The worker tried to start it, said “I feel dizzy,” and collapsed.
By the time the foreman reached him, he was unresponsive. After failing to carry the worker out, the foreman propped him up out of the water and went for help. He walked, crawled, and stumbled 3000 feet to the outside to report a worker down near the pump. Seven workers went into the pipe in an attempt to remove the downed worker. At the same time, a state inspector got into his truck, drove to the manhole, ripped up the frame and covering, and entered the sewer. He proceeded to the area where the worker had been reported down and he, too, was overcome. Both the laborer and the state inspector died. Subsequent autopsy indicated cause of death to be carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. As a result of the rescue effort, 30 firement and 8 construction workers were treated for CO intoxication and or exhaustion. A scenario such as this offers invaluable lessons for management, inspectors, laborers, and rescue personnel, albeit at a high price. Examining recommendations gleaned after the fact in this case presents pertinent lessons for inspectors and workers. Lesson 1: Both fatal victims lacked experience in working in confined spaces. Solution: If you are expected, as part of your job, to work in confined spaces, you should be given appropriate training. Insist that you have it before you enter a confined space. Lesson 2: A gasoline-powered pump was installed in a confined space known to have almost no ventilation. Neither workers nor the pump could have operated efficiently in the sewer; the pump should have been located outside the sewer with a hose running to the sewage, or an electric motor-driven pump should have been considered. Solution: If you are expected to enter a confined space where machinery is in use, make sure you understand the basics about the equipment and the limitations of the space (is there adequate ventilation? Is there enough room to navigate around the equipment without danger?) Lesson 3: Workers were permitted to enter an untested atmosphere of a confined space. At no time was the atmosphere in the pipe tested prior to entry, nor was there mechanical ventilation to remove air contaminants. Solution: The atmosphere should have been tested by a qualified person prior to entry by workers. Always ask if the atmosphere is safe to breath without PPE and whether it has been tested. Ask to see the test results if you have doubts. Lesson 4: The established corporate safety procedures for work in confined spaces were not implemented. Solution: Make sure that management, including local supervisors, has complied with approved corporate policy and procedures for confined space entry as well as other 3
rules and regulations approved by the corporate policy and procedures for confined space entry as well as other rules and regulations approved by the corporate president. The policy and procedure should include entry into confined spaces for workers and rescue efforts. Ask to see a written confined-space work permit. Lesson 5: Workers were not able to adequately assess their risk of personal injury from the tasks they were required to perform, much less the additional hazards associated with rescue efforts. Solution: Management should have a safe job procedure for all routine tasks, starting with high-risk tasks, and should specifically establish a policy and procedure regarding rescue efforts. If you are uncertain about entering a space, ask what the policy is. Lesson 6: The foreman heard the worker attempt to start the pump four times and then say “I feel dizzy.” The foreman ordered the worker out of the pipe. The worker started to leave, dropping his flashlight and stumbling in his unsuccessful attempt. By the time the foreman reached the worker, the worker was down and unresponsive. Solution: If you suddenly don’t feel well in a confined space – nausea, fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness or headache – alert someone immediately and get out! Yell for help if you become disoriented, weak or confused. Lesson 7: The firemen who arrived at the scene were equipped with 30-minute selfcontained breathing apparatus and were told the victims were approximately 150 feet into the sewer. They were actually 500-600 feet away. The firemen gave the inspector, who was still breathing, one air canister, and used buddy breathing to exit. However, because of misinformation they almost ran out of air. Solution: Even rescue professionals are at risk in a situation that goes awry. Don’t jump into a rescue situation! You could lose your life and/or cost another rescuer their lives. Written Programs Any employer who allows employee entry into a permit space must develop and implement a written program for the space. Among other things, the OSHA standard requires the employer’s written program to: • • • •
Implement necessary measures to prevent unauthorized entry Identify and evaluate permit space hazards before allowing employee entry Test atmospheric conditions in the permit space before entry operations and monitor the space during entry Establish and implement the means, procedures and practices to eliminate or control hazards necessary for safe permit space entry operations 4
Among other things, the OSHA standard requires the employer’s written program to (continued): •
Provide and maintain, at no cost to the employee, personal protective equipment and any other equipment necessary for safe entry and require employees to use it Ensure that at least one trained attendant is stationed outside the permit space for the duration of entry operations Implement appropriate procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services and preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting rescue
Implement the procedures that any attendant who is required to monitor multiple spaces will follow during an emergency in one or more of those spaces. Written Programs Confined Space Hazards There are essentially two types of confined spaces: • •
Spaces with open tops and a depth that will restrict the natural movement of air Enclosed spaces with very limited openings for entry/exit
In either of these cases, the space may contain mechanical equipment with moving parts. Degreasers, pits, and certain types of storage tanks may be classified as opentopped confined spaces that usually contain no moving parts. However, gases that are heavier than air (butane, propane, and other hydrocarbons) remain in depressions and will flow to low points, where they are difficult to remove. Opentopped water tanks that appear harmless may develop toxic atmospheres such as hydrogen sulfide from the vaporization of contaminated water. Therefore, these gases (heavier than air) are a primary concern when entry into such a confined space is being planned. Confined Space Hazards Confined spaces such as sewers, casings, tanks, silos, and vaults usually have limited access. The problems arising in these areas are similar to those that occur in open-topped confined spaces, but the limited access increases the risk of injury. Gases that are heavier than air (such as carbon dioxide) may lie in a tank or vault for hours or even days after the containers have been opened. Because some gases are odorless, this hazard may be overlooked – with fatal results. Gases that are lighter than air may also be trapped within an enclosed type confined space, especially those with access from the bottom or side. 5
The most hazardous kind of confined space is the type that combines limited access and mechanical devices. All the hazards of open-top and limited-access confined spaces may be present together with the additional hazard of moving parts. Controlling Hazards The employer’s written program should establish the means, procedures and practices to eliminate or control hazards necessary for safe permit space entry operations. These may include: • Specifying acceptable entry conditions • Isolating the permit space • Providing barriers • Verifying acceptable entry conditions • Purging, making inert, flushing or ventilating the permit space Equipment for Safe Entry In addition to personal protective equipment, other equipment that employees may require for safe entry into a permit space includes: • Testing, monitoring, ventilating, communications and lighting equipment • Barriers and shields • Ladders • Retrieval devices Detection of hazardous conditions If hazardous conditions are detected during entry, employees must immediately leave the space. The employer must evaluate the space to determine the cause of the hazard and modify the program as necessary. In addition to personal protective equipment, other equipment that employees may require for safe entry into a permit space includes: Informing Employees Employers must inform any contractors they hire to enter permit spaces about: • The permit spaces and permit space entry requirements • Any identified hazards • The employer’s experience with the space, such as knowledge of hazardous conditions 6
• Precautions or procedures to be followed when in or near permit spaces Reasons for Entering Confined Spaces There are many reasons for entering confined space, with the ones cited here being the most common and important examples: • As part of an industrial activity such as inspection, repair, maintenance (cleaning or painting), or similar operation. • As part of new construction. The hazards involved will depend upon what is being built. When an area meets the criteria for a confined space, all ventilation and other requirements must be enforced. • For emergency rescue. Rescues must be well planned before initial entry is made. All rescue personnel should be aware of whatever known hazards exist, the structural design of the space, emergency exit procedures, and life support systems required. Authorized entrants Authorized entrants are required to: • Know space hazards, including information on the means of exposure such as inhalation or dermal absorption, signs of symptoms and consequences of the exposure • Use appropriate personal protective equipment properly • Maintain communication with attendants as necessary to enable them to monitor the entrant’s status and alert the entrant to evacuate when necessary Authorized entrants Exit from the permit space as soon as possible when: • Ordered by the authorized person • He or she recognizes the warning signs or symptoms of exposure • A prohibited condition exists • An automatic alarm is activated • Alert the attendant when a prohibited condition exists or when warning signs or symptoms of exposure exist. Attendants The attendant is an authorized, trained professional required to: • Remain outside the permit space during entry operations
• Know existing and potential hazards, including information on the mode of exposure, signs or symptoms, consequences and physiological effects • Maintain communication with and keep an accurate account of those workers entering the permit space • Order evacuation of the permit space when a prohibited condition exists, a worker shows signs of physiological effects of hazard exposure, an emergency outside the confined space exists, or the attendant cannot effectively and safely perform required duties. • Summon rescue and other services during an emergency • Ensure that unauthorized people stay away from permit spaces Entry supervisor Entry supervisors are authorized individuals required to: • Know space hazards including information on the mode of exposure, signs or symptoms and consequences • Verify emergency plans and specified entry conditions such as permits, tests, procedures and equipment before allowing entry • Verify that rescue services are available and that the means for summoning them are operable • Take appropriate measures to remove unauthorized entrants Worker Training Before the initial work assignment begins, the employer must provide proper training for all workers who are required to work in permit spaces. After the training, employers must ensure that the employees have acquired the understanding, knowledge and skills necessary to safely perform their duties. Additional training is required when: • The job duties change • A change occurs in the permit space program or the permit space operation presents any new hazard • An employee’s job performance shows deficiencies Rescue team members require training in CPR and first aid, and employers must certify and be able to show proof that this training has been provided. Emergencies Rescue service personnel 8
The standard requires employers to ensure that responders are capable of responding to an emergency in a timely manner. Employers must provide rescue service personnel with personal protective and rescue equipment, including respirators, and training in how to use it. Rescue service personnel also must receive the authorized entrants training and be trained to perform assigned rescue duties. Harnesses and retrieval lines Authorized entrants who enter a permit space must wear a chest or full body harness with a retrieval line attached to the center of their backs near shoulder level or above their heads. Wristlets may be used if the employer can demonstrate that the use of a chest or full body harness is not feasible or creates a greater hazard. Conclusion Working in confined spaces poses unique challenges to workers, who will need to take extra precautions to work effectively and safely in conditions that may be cramped and/or difficult to enter and exit. OSHA’s goal is to help ensure that employers and workers are aware of the dangers of working in confined spaces and know the proper ways to avoid unnecessary risks. Exam You are about to begin a 10 question exam on the material that was presented in this module. You must pass this exam with a score of 70% to receive credit for this course. You may take this exam as many times as necessary. Feel free to review the material if you feel you are not ready to proceed. You must agree to the following affidavit before you can begin to the exam. AFFIDAVIT By entering my name in the field below, I hereby declare, warrant and confirm, under penalty of perjury, that I have not misrepresented my identity, and I intend to personally take and complete the following exam. Please enter your name: ________________ Press the "next" button to begin after you have signed the affidavit.