Hazard of Confined Space: 8 Main Hazards of Confined Spaces

By | July 22, 2023
Hazard of Confined Space
Hazard of Confined Space

The hazard of confined space must be understood by everyone who will involve in confined space. Because a confined space is a dangerous place where you should always enter and perform your task with adequate safety precautions. You must know the hazard of confined space and their remedial controls before entering a confined space. In this post, 8-main hazards associated with confined space have been illustrated.

If your work needs you to take into a confined space, Do it with more & more safety precautions because a minor mistake can lead to significant injury if you are not complying with safety procedures to work into a confined space.

What is Confined Space Definition

A confined space is a partially enclosed area where serious personal injury or even death can take place caused by hazardous substances and conditions.

A confined space is a place that is partially enclosed and has limited access & egress, and there might be oxygen deficiency or enrichment. A confined space is a restricted area, and it is not designed for continuous human occupancy. Serious injury can occur due to hazardous substances and conditions within or nearby confined space.

Examples of confined spaces include tanks, silos, drains, underground sewers, pits, tunnels, wells, pipelines, pump stations, boilers, etc. Often these places are not entered by the people, but people need to be entered these places during inspection and maintenance work.

During construction activities, some areas may become confined due to the work being carried out, such as working within trenches, stuffy rooms, water or oil tanks, pipelines, etc.

Hazard of Confined Space: 8 Main Hazards of Confined Spaces

You will have to take extreme safety measures while you are going to work in a confined space. And if you run into trouble while working in a confined space, the consequences can be fatal. Here is 8-hazard of confined space that you must understand.

1. Oxygen Deficiency & Enrichment

Both oxygen deficiency & enrichment are hazardous for confined spaces. Working in a confined space, oxygen can be removed from the atmosphere due to the natural occurrence of reactions. Reactions between certain soils and oxygen, groundwater, and chalk or limestone can produce carbon dioxide that replaces the oxygen and causes oxygen deficiency while working in a confined space. Rust forming inside pipelines and tanks can also create a lack of oxygen in a confined space.

Oxygen enrichment in a confined space can increase fire and explosion risks. The safest oxygen level in a confined space is 19.5 % to 23.5%.

2. Presence of Toxic Gases, Fumes & Vapours

The toxic gases and fumes can be build-up within a confined space due to poor ventilation. Harmful or poisonous gases can be leaked into confined spaces due to bursts of pipelines or contaminated land, or they may be created from work being carried out, such as welding, adhesives, or paint fumes.

If there are no proper safety measures to take out these toxic gases from confined spaces, these gases and fumes can create a poisonous atmosphere within the confined spaces.

3. Fire and Explosion

The availability of flammable Vapours, gases, liquids, and dust within the confined space can significantly increase the risks of fire and explosion. Furthermore, some activities are there, such as welding and grinding, which can increase the risks of fire & explosions by producing sparks within a confined space.

Oxygen enrichment in a confined space can also increase the significant fire and explosion risks. The safest oxygen level in a confined space is 19.5 % to 23.5%.

4. Flooding / Drowning of Workers

Flooding/drowning of workers in a confined space is a severe hazard of confined space that employees may face during working in a confined space. This can occur when the liquid or water level increases in a confined space, such as in tanks or underground chambers. Due to the leakage of water and other liquids inside the confined space, confined spaces may fill up rapidly with leaking water or other liquid, which can lead to flood or the drowning of workers inside the confined spaces.

It’s not just liquids you should worry about. Solid may also flood confined spaces. For instance, workers working in trenches are at high risk of being trapped or buried due to the collapses of trenches’ walls. Confined spaces can be small. So flood can occur within seconds, leaving no time to escape.

Flooding
Flooding

5. Extreme Temperature

Extreme temperature is a significant hazard of confined space resulting from hot works or natural rises in temperature. Hot conditions in confined spaces can lead to a dangerous increase in body temperature, and this can cause heat stress to concerned workers required to work in a confined space.

Temperature can rapidly increase due to the enclosed nature of a confined space, which can lead to heat stress, heatstrokes, exhaustion, and collapse.

6. Dust

Dust is a hazard of confined space, and there are two sources of dust build-up in a confined space, either naturally occurring or through the tasks being carried out, for example, grinding and drilling inside a confined space.

Dust inhalation in excessive quantity can cause respiratory problems, and hazardous dust can be fatal if inhaled. Dust accumulation inside a confined space can increase the risk of fire and explosion, especially if there is a lack of ventilation.

Dust
Dust

7. Access Restrictions

Confined space is a dangerous place because of access restrictions too. Confined space can not be easily accessible due to access restrictions. This escapes difficult in case of rescue operation if an emergency occurs. Access restriction is a hazard of confined space that must be considered before entering a confined space.

Once you get inside the confined space, it can not be an easy or quick way to come out due to access restrictions. So you should know the hazard of confined space and their effective control measures before you enter. You must ensure an emergency rescue arrangement is in place before you enter a confined space.

8. Poor Visibility

Poor visibility is a Hazard of Confined Space that has the potential to cause accidents & incidents in a confined space. In many cases, confined spaces are poorly illuminated, making it difficult for workers to see what they are doing and where they are going. This can be significantly dangerous when workers deal with hazardous materials in a confined space.

Poor Visibility
Poor Visibility

Control Measures of Hazard of Confined Space

To control confined space hazards, you must conduct a confined space risk assessment to identify the potential hazards and decide on control measures to mitigate those hazards.

The hazard of confined space can be controlled by implementing the below-listed control measures:-

  • Ensure atmospheric tests before entering a confined space.
  • Proper training.
  • Ensure close supervision and monitoring.
  • Deploy a trained hole watcher.
  • Isolation of existing equipment or services.
  • Provide a proper communication system.
  • The plant shut down.
  • Provide proper illumination.
  • Ensure proper ventilation.
  • Lifelines.
  • Breathing apparatus.
  • Rescue procedures and emergency arrangements.

Confined space is a high-risk activity that must be carried out with adequate safety precautions. You must develop a positive safety culture by implementing risk assessment, method statement, permit-to-work system, and other safety control measures.

Conclusion

A confined space is a dangerous place in which you must work with proper safety measures. , you must carry out a risk assessment of confined space to identify the potential hazards of confined spaces and decide on control measures to mitigate them before you enter the confined space. Ignorance of safety measures during confined space activity can cause fatal accidents. Hence, always follow the safe system of work whenever you work in a confined space.

Q1. What is Confined Space Definition?

Ans. A confined space is a place that is partially enclosed and has limited access & egress, and there might be oxygen deficiency or enrichment. A confined space is a restricted area, and it is not designed for continuous human occupancy. Serious injury can occur due to hazardous substances and conditions within or nearby confined space.

Q2. What are the hazards of confined space?

Ans. Hazards of confined space include lack of oxygen, fire & explosion, drowning of workers, presence of toxic gases, poor visibility, extreme temperature, poor ventilation, dust, access restrictions, etc.

Q3. What are the examples of confined space?

Ans. Confined space examples include silos, chimneys, tanks, pipelines, underground chambers, wells, sewers, pits, tunnels, boilers, excavation more than 1.2-meter depth, pump stations, etc.

Q4. What are control measures of confined space?

Ans. To control the confined space hazards, implement the below controls before entering a confined space; Conduct confined space risk assessment, comply with PTW, Do the atmosphere testing, Provide training to the workers, Deploy one trained hole watcher, provide proper illuminations, ventilation, access & egress, ensure close supervision, isolate the existing equipment & services, Lifelines, Breathing apparatus, and ensure emergency rescue arrangement.

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