Working in confined spaces is not easy. Incidentally, often accessing these spaces is just as risky. As a result, an escape or a rescue operation can be hard to carry out in emergencies.
Reports show that the accidents that often occur in confined spaces are due to the lack of awareness of the risks involved in working there. Moreover, more than half the people who die in these accidents are the ones trying to rescue the workers.
Here are a few risks that would make you want to escape a confined space in the first place.
You Could Suffocate
Because of certain natural reactions, the quantity of oxygen in confined spaces is often severely depleted. This could be due to combustion, oxidization inside tanks or pipes, or a natural reaction between the soil and oxygen. It could also result from limestone or chalk reacting with groundwater to produce carbon dioxide, which in turn messes up the levels of oxygen.
Breathing in this air could result in nausea and vomiting, leading to unconsciousness and eventually death.
Awful Air Quality
Besides the lack of oxygen, you could also be exposed to certain toxic gases and fumes that have been built up in the confined space due to lack of ventilation. The toxic matter could be due to your work, such as paint fumes or adhesives being used. Over time working in confined spaces can weaken your lungs and affect your respiratory system.
There Could Be A Flood
The probability of a small closed-off space filling up with water is very high indeed. Work in confined spaces could involve drainage or sewage work, where this probability increases by ten folds. With the slightest mishap, these spaces can fill up in a few moments, trapping and drowning those working inside.
There Could Be A Fire
Less oxygen and toxic matter in the air are both invitations for fire. Any gases or vapors that are even slightly flammable can pose a considerable risk in a confined space. A worker lighting a cigarette or any work that involves any sparking tools could all lead to a fire or explosion.
You Could Get A Heat Stroke
Naturally, confined spaces are going to feel stuffy because of the lack of fresh air. The temperature is likely going to stay up, especially if you’re working with any hot tools. Given the temperature and your work, you could sweat profusely and suffer from dehydration and a heat stroke.
According to Canada’s Labor Code and Confined Spaces Regulation, it’s an employer’s job to ensure that before carrying out any work in a confined space, the employees should have complete instructions and training necessary to avoid any accidents. This training should include entry and emergency protocol as well as the use of protective gear.
At the Metro Safety Training School, we intend to help employers with this with our Confined Space Safety Courses for Entrants and Standby Personnel.
Get in touch with us to learn more about our workplace safety courses and sign up your employees.