A 28-year old maintenance employee fell 17 feet through a hopper while relining a concrete dump hopper. As a result, the employee suffered multiple fractures. OSHA then conducted an inspection of the VCNA Prairie Inc facility and found numerous violations relating to confined space. Violations include failure to use adequate equipment for entry and exit, lack of a retrieval system, failure to have an attendant present during entry into confined spaces, absence of posted warning signs and failure to issue permits to enter such spaces. VCNA Prairie Inc could face up to $51,000 in penalties. Read the original story at www.osha.gov.
Entry into a confined space exposes employees to a number of hazards. Lack of oxygen, exposure to toxic gases or fumes and entrapment are just a few hazards working in confined spaces.
How can you keep your employees safe? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is this a permit-required confined space? A permit- required confined space contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.
- Do you have adequate signage? Post signage noting that the confined space is “enter by permit only”.
- Are you employees trained? Ensure proper training for employees that are affected by confined spaces, including attendants, entrants, supervisors and rescue teams.
- What roles are employees assigned? Assign the attendant role to a person who will monitor authorized entrants who enter and exit the permit required confined space. Designate who will be authorized entrants, entry supervisor or person to monitor the atmosphere in a permit-space.
- Do you have a trained confined space rescue team on stand-by? Implement procedures that address summoning rescue and emergency services, rescuing entrants from permit spaces and providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees.
- How are you ensuring the safety of employees in confined spaces? Use proper controls and protective equipment, including respirators, PPE and fall protection.
In need of a comprehensive Confined Space Program and Training? Contact SRP Environmental for more information.