Alva Group Occupational Health and Safety Services

The Types of Hazards in a Confined Space

Due to the limited or restricted means of entry or exit and the fact that they are not intended for continuous occupancy, working in tight spaces is frequently overlooked as a high-risk environment. According to studies, rescuers account for 60% of the fatalities in confined spaces. Employees and workers entering the space run the risk of being hurt or killed by a number of hazards that exist there. It’s critical to recognise the different types of hazards present in confined spaces. so that workers on construction sites can recognise danger zones.

Toxic Atmosphere

Confined spaces can have a poisonous or toxic atmosphere within the space due to the lack of air ventilation and the type of work that may be performed in the area. Workers who are exposed to a hazardous environment may become impaired. If they spend too much time in the hazardous area, they can lose consciousness or even die.

Oxygen Deficiency

Workers who are exposed to oxygen-deficient environments risk suffocation. It may result in fatalities or severe injuries. Commonly confined spaces are deficient in the oxygen a person needs to survive for a particular amount of time. According to some estimates, it takes less than 1 minute for a person to survive in an area with only 5% oxygen.

Excess Oxygen

On the other hand, excessive oxygen exposure is also a risk since it can dramatically raise the likelihood of fires or explosions. Additionally, breathing oxygen at higher-than-normal partial pressure leads to hyperoxia and can cause oxygen toxicity or oxygen poisoning. There are mainly two types of scenarios where oxygen poisoning develops. One in which the patient is subjected to extremely high oxygen concentrations for a brief period, and the other in which the patient is exposed to lower oxygen concentrations but for a longer period of time. Cell death and damage are possible outcomes in severe oxygen poisoning situations.

Fire and Explosions

Since flammable liquids, gases, or combustible dust can easily catch fire or explode in a small area, it is easy for a fire or explosion to start there. Prime examples of often occurring explosive gases that can form in a confined environment include methane and hydrogen sulphide. The tremendous danger that persists after the first incident may be the cause of the high prevalence of fire and explosion-related mortality. Response teams might frequently perish in the environment while attempting to save trapped personnel in restricted quarters when an explosion or fire happens.

Excessive Heat

Since the space is enclosed, excessive heat exposure is likely to occur. Workers may develop heat stroke as a result, becoming confused and unresponsive. The brain or other important organs may expand as a result of heatstroke if prompt action is not taken to reduce body temperature. It might cause harm that is irreversible. Heat may cause sweaty palms, which may affect a worker’s ability to hold onto equipment or a surface for stability if necessary, increasing the risk of other injuries. Heat can also have an impact on a worker’s safety gear, including fogged-up safety glasses that will hamper their eyesight.

Biological Agents

Microorganisms contained in sludge, mould, fungi, animal waste, and faeces could expose workers to bacterial and viral diseases. In close quarters, it is possible to contract infectious disorders, dermatitis, or lung ailments brought on by contact with microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, or fungi.

Becoming Trapped

An employee could quickly become trapped in confined spaces because of the small amount of room and the limited number of entrances and exits (hooper-configuration). When an emergency arises, it can be challenging for personnel to rapidly leave their current location due to a lack of room. Therefore, it is essential that there be a trained worker ready to help anytime an emergency arises outside of the restricted space.

Safety Solution

To cope with the risks brought on by an activity performed in and around the designated confined space, control measures are a crucial component that should be implemented:

 

  • By performing the work outside the area, you remove the risk.
  • Substituting or isolating the risk or applying engineering controls.
  • Locating the fresh air intake and exhaust systems is important, especially when cleaning the area of dangerous or combustible airborne contaminants.
  • Preparing the worker to carry out the necessary work.
  • Reviewing all safety data, such as technical specifications or other data, and, if necessary, learning about the area’s prior uses.
  • Put up signs indicating restricted access and stating that you need a signed entry permit to enter.
  • As part of an emergency response plan, creating a safe recovery process is key.
  • Personal protection equipment must be given and used properly for the specific work being done.

 

Given how quickly and easily an employee can get hurt or be exposed to a harmful scenario, confined spaces are regarded as high-risk working environments. Accidents can happen quickly but saving the worker might take longer than expected. Rescuers cannot always simply access the person due to the restricted access to the area. Along with working at heights, working in tight spaces is one of the locations with the highest risk of fatalities.

How We Can Help

Alva Group offers you a special consultation service in the field of health and safety as well as training for confined spaces. We demonstrate leadership via simplicity and recognise that understanding is just as important to safety as knowledge. We strive to make complex information understandable for our clients by converting it into straightforward, practical information.

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