Roco Director of Training/Chief Instructor, Dennis O’Connell reviews the importance of following OSHA safety standards for confined space entry, no matter how many times workers have entered the space. The take away? With confined spaces…It’s NEVER old hat! The importance of preplanning confined space entries and identifying “potential hazards ”should be old hat by now. Yet every year we are still killing entrants and rescuers in confined spaces.
In the story below, we have one very lucky rescuer, but this very easily could have been a multi-fatality event.
Atmospheric Hazards Continue to Claim Lives in Confined Space Entry Scenarios
The importance of preplanning confined space entries and identifying “potential hazards” should be old hat by now. Yet every year we are still killing entrants and rescuers inconfined spaces. In the story below, we have one very lucky rescuer, but this very easily could have been a multi-fatality event.
It’s always important to remember that each entry stands alone. Each and every time a space is entered, we need to:
(a) identify potential hazards;
(b) eliminate or control them, when possible;
(c) use proper PPE; and,
(d) have an EFFECTIVE Rescue Plan.
Otherwise, as in this story, we will lose or injure workers as well as those attempting the rescue.
Start from scratch and treat each entry like it’s the first time you’re entering the space – it could save your life.
Keep in mind, the history of a space really has nothing to do with the current entry. We’ve all heard people say, “We do this all the time, and we’ve never had a problem!” Or, “We’ve entered this space a thousand times and the air is always good!” Remember this… IT DOES NOT MATTER!! This entry has nothing to do with the last.
As you read of yet another unfortunate incident, let it be a reminder to those of us who make entries or do rescues from confined spaces – do not let your guard down, do not get complacent…it could be deadly. Atmospheric hazards are still one of the leading ways that people are dying in confined spaces. Because humans are visually oriented by nature, if we can see a hazard, we’ll protect ourselves from it. However, if we can’t see it, we tend to assume it’s safe. OSHA’s 1910.146 PRCS standard and others were developed for a reason… people were making tragic mistakes and dying in confined spaces. These standards and guidelines are written so we don’t make the same mistakes.
OSHA FINES UTILITY FIRM $118,580 FOLLOWING WORKER’S DEATH
OSHA has cited a contracting and utilities company for two willful and two serious safety and health violations following the death of a worker at the company’s Texas facility. Proposed penalties total $118,580. An inspection was initiated by OSHA on June 28 in response to a report that employees working on a new sewer line were exposed to inhalation of a hazardous chemical. One employee who entered a manhole to remove a plug in order to flush out accumulated debris became overwhelmed by toxic fumes and died. Another employee was hospitalized after attempting to rescue his co-worker.
The willful violations are for failing to test for atmospheric conditions and provide adequate ventilation and emergency retrieval equipment prior to entry into a manhole.
The serious violations are failing to provide or require the use of respirators as well as conduct an assessment to determine the potential for a hazardous atmosphere where oxygen deficiency, methane, and/or hydrogen sulfide were present or likely to be present.
“The company failed to ensure that proper confined space entry procedures were followed,” said Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth. “If it had followed OSHA’s safety standards, it is possible that this tragic incident could have been prevented.”