THE SAFETY NET CO N SU LTA N T S
IT’S ALWAYS SAFETY FIRST. ▪
VOLUME 14 ISSUE 5
Top Ways to Protect Your Workplace from Coronavirus OH&S | 03.05.2020 By Sydny Shepard
Information and statistics on the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, are changing rapidly creating worry, chaos and misinformation to be spread along with the illness. To combat both the spread of the virus and the negative emotions in connection with it, employers need to have an open dialogue with their employees about the virus, it’s potential impact on the organization and what employees can do to protect themselves. Here’s our top tips for protecting the workplace and employees from spreading the virus, and in effect, helping to create a more thoughtful discussion between employers and employees.
ENCOURAGE REGULAR HAND-WASHING Remind employees that the best way to prevent the spread of the illness is to regularly wash their hands and avoid touching their mouth, eyes or nose. The CDC recommends washing your hands with water and soap for a duration of 20 seconds, rubbing and lathering the backs of the hands, between your fingers and under your nails. In order to effectively time out 20 seconds while washing your hands, you can hum or sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice from beginning to end. To reinforce and remind employees that they should be washing their hands regularly, place signs around the building and especially in public areas such as bathroom and food preparation spaces.
PERFORM ROUTINE ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs. The CDC recommends that workers use cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. It is best to provide employees with disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down before each use.
SAFETY FIRST. Austin employees have worked 3,413,998 hours without a Lost Time Accident through 02/2020.
When and How to Wash Your Hands CDC | 04.02.2020
During the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic, keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading. Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.
HOW GERMS SPREAD Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or
• Before, during, and after preparing food • Before eating food • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea • Before and after treating a cut or wound • After using the toilet • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
surfaces when you:
• After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
• Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
• After handling pet food or pet treats
• Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
• After touching garbage
• Touch a contaminated surface or objects • Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
KEY TIMES TO WASH HANDS You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also clean hands: • After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/ screens, etc. • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that’s how germs enter our bodies.
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
HOW TO USE HAND SANITIZER
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most
• Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read
effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals. Follow these five steps every time. 1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. 2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the
the label to learn the correct amount). • Rub your hands together. • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
CDC’S HANDWASHING CAMPAIGN: LIFE IS BETTER WITH CLEAN HANDS
soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your
CDC’s Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign
fingers, and under your nails.
encourages adults to make handwashing part of their
3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
everyday life and encourages parents to wash their hands to set a good example for their kids. Visit the Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign page to download resources to help promote handwashing in your community.
4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. 5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
WHY? READ THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE RECOMMENDATIONS. Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However, • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs. • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals. CAUTION! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use.
Minimizing COVID-19 Exposure In The Workplace National Safety Compliance | 04.13.2020
ARE YOU TAKING THESE PRECAUTIONS TO HELP WORKERS STAY SAFE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC? There are thousands of workplaces still operating – many at peak capacity – during the coronavirus pandemic. These include food production facilities, warehouses, shipping companies, hospitals, physician offices and factories producing much-needed medical equipment like ventilators and protective masks. Many others are looking
requires additional COVID-19 safety training in accordance with labor law best practices for coronavirus safety.
SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But an estimated 25% (perhaps even more) of infected people may not exhibit any symptoms at all. These people can nonetheless still spread the disease. According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear
at what practices to implement when they return to work
in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
HOW COVID-19 SPREADS
Here are some COVID-19 best practices and training tips that will help mitigate risk factors in your workplace. If you already have a robust pandemic safety and training program, these recommendations can make it even stronger.
WHAT IS COVID-19? Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As of April 14th, it has already infected more than 588,300 people in the U.S., causing nearly 25,000 deaths. Some business owners already have pandemic safety training plans in place for influenza outbreaks, but this crisis
People can get COVID-19 by being in close proximity to an active carrier or by touching a surface that has the virus on it, then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.
IMPACT ON THE WORKPLACE The potential for workplace coronavirus is already having these effects on businesses across America: Greater absenteeism – Some workers can’t report because they have the illness, while others are caregivers for children in locations where schools and daycare centers have been closed.
Reduced or altered hours – Some businesses (like grocery stores) are reducing hours of operation so that facilities can be sanitized overnight.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION
• Implementing multiple shifts or staggered hours to reduce the number of employees working at any given time • Cross-training employees to cover the duties of those who are ill or providing childcare
the COVID-19 pandemic. Company-wide communication
PREVENTIVE MEASURES TO MINIMIZE INFECTION
can bring calm and clarity. For example, The Department
These recommendations can greatly reduce the rate
American workers are both frightened and confused by
of Labor has created a fact sheet about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that gives all federal workers greater paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave during the COVID-19 crisis.
of infection: • Advise employees to stay home if they’re feeling ill • Provide all employees with places to wash their hands with soap and hot water • Train workers in cough and sneeze etiquette (covering a cough or sneeze to prevent airborne transmission) • Distribute hand sanitizers at numerous locations in the workplace • Reorganize workflow to allow for social distancing of six feet between workers • Use disinfectant products to frequently clean desktops, work areas, computer keyboards, etc. • Discourage employees for using other workers’ computers or tools • Encourage employees to wear gloves, protective face masks or bandanas if appropriate
ESTABLISHING A RESPONSE PLAN
MODIFYING THE WORKPLACE Infection rates can also be reduced by augmenting the
If your organization doesn’t currently have an infectious
disease preparedness plan, now is the time to
• High-efficiency air filters
implement one. Pandemic training can help business owners and managers deal with the current outbreak
• Sneeze guards
and any future ones.
• Drive-through windows for customer service
Key considerations include:
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON COVID-19 EXPOSURE IN THE WORKPLACE
• Determining where and how workers might get exposed to COVID-19 at your site • Assessing your workers’ risk factors (e.g., age, chronic health conditions, pregnancy, etc.) • Discovering whether coronavirus handwashing best practices are being followed • Developing a plan for higher rates of worker absenteeism
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the latest information about COVID-19: www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also provides COVID-19 updates at www.osha.gov/SLTC/ covid-19/.
• Determining which employees have the ability to work remotely
OSHA Cites Engineer, 10 Contractors in Deadly Hard Rock New Orleans Collapse ConstructionDive | 04.07.2020 By Kim Slowey After a months-long investigation, OSHA has cited and
OSHA also said the engineering firm did not maintain the
fined 11 firms in connection with the October 2019 partial
required accident prevention programs and that Heaslip
collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans. The
created hazards for workers on the eighth through 18th
agency has proposed fines totaling $315,536, and all
floors by inadequately designing, reviewing and approving
companies have 15 days to contest the monetary fines
structural steel connections.
Suncoast Projects LLC, dba Hub Steel, based in Groveland,
Heaslip Engineering LLC drew the largest fine, $154,214, and
Florida, had the second-highest total fines of $37,191, and
the only willful citation among the group. Among Heaslip’s
was cited for several jobsite deficiencies, including:
alleged violations were: • The company’s work resulted in design flaws such as the floor beams on the 16th floor being under-designed in load capacity. • The western side exterior bay not being tied into a rigid portion of the structure for floors nine through 15 between column lines one and nine. • Cantilevers on the 17th and 18th floors exceeded the manufacturer’s guidance for maximum spans.
• Failure to maintain the required material safety data sheets for the chemicals it used on the project. • Failure to provide adequate worker training on the proper use and handling of those materials. • Failure to ensure free and unobstructed egress from the building for structural steel workers on the seventh through 18th floors. • Failure to furnish workers with adequate personal protective equipment.
OSHA also cited general contractor Citadel Builders
Attorney Kelly Theard with the law firm of Deutsch
LLC for not providing the temporary lighting necessary
Kerrigan LLP in New Orleans defended Heaslip’s record
for safe egress; for not marking exits with visibly marked
of work and disputed OSHA’s findings. “We believe
signage; and for not ensuring that drawings or plans for
OSHA’s conclusions are unwarranted, not supported by
beam shoring were available at the jobsite. The agency
the facts and beyond the jurisdiction of OSHA’s statutory
proposed that Citadel, which is a member of the hotel’s
authority,” Theard told Construction Dive. “Heaslip
development team, pay $28,338 in fines.
unequivocally denies any ‘willful’ or ‘serious’ wrongdoing
Other contractors cited for safety violations at the Hard
and will vigorously contest all of the citations through the
procedures required by OSHA.”
• REY.CO Inc. ($23,697)
The OSHA investigation did not touch on the role of the
• F. Mata Masonry LLC ($12,723)
city’s building department in ensuring the integrity of the construction process. Two inspectors were suspended in
• King Company LLC ($12,145)
February amid allegations that they signed off on building
• Hutco Inc. ($10,794)
inspections for several projects, including those for the
• Regional Mechanical Services LLC ($9.446) • Rush Masonry Inc. ($9.446)
Hard Rock, despite evidence that they did not actually visit the sites. The city and developer 1031 Canal Development, which
• Southern Services and Equipment Inc. ($9,446)
was not fined, are still trying to reach an agreement on
• S&S Construction and Consulting LLC ($8,096)
how the hotel will be demolished. There are still two bodies
Since Rush, Hutco, REY.CO, S&S and Southern Services had no repeat, willful or failure-to-abate, or high-gravity serious violations, and since investigators reported that they understood their abatement responsibilities and were willing to carry them out by OSHA deadlines, the agency made each of those firms eligible for an Expedited Informal Settlement Agreement (EISA). As part of the EISA, the contractors are eligible for a 40% fine reduction as long as
trapped inside the structure. DH Griffin Wrecking had a contract to demolish the building, but, according to Fox 8 in New Orleans, the company could not obtain liability insurance for the planned implosion. The developer has now reportedly entered into an agreement with Kolb Grading to perform a more traditional demolition, similar to a plan that 1031 Canal proposed at the end of last year.
they provide proof of abatement by the OSHA deadline.
Covering the Bases Welding PPE from Head to Toe OH&S | 04.01.2020 By Amanda Smiley, Sydny Shepard When it comes to defending against the hazards faced by
specific to their daily tasks, including: exposure to fumes
welders every day, you must incorporate protective gear
and gases, burns, eye damage, crushed digits, electric
from head to toe.
shock, fire—and even explosions. Let’s take a deep dive
The concept of welding is not new—people have been
into each of these hazards.
merging metals together using a plethora of techniques
Physical Hazards. Cuts, eye damage, burns, crushed
since the 1880s. While technology and protective gear has
toes and fingers are all physical hazards that are often
dramatically improved since then, there are still numerous
associated with welding. Injuries that result from this hazard
hazards those in the field need to defend against.
are often due to insufficient personal protective equipment.
In fact, OSHA reports1 some notable hazards for the
Exposure to Fumes and Gases. Fumes and gases created in
welding, cutting and brazing sectors that might give you
the welding process can cause severe health problems for
pause. An estimated 562,000 employees are at risk for
welders as they are classified carcinogens. Overexposure to
exposure to chemical and physical hazards of welding,
these fumes could lead to respiratory illnesses, cancer and
cutting and brazing. According to the Bureau of Labor
impaired speech and movement.
Statistics, more than 500,000 workers are injured every year2 due to welding accidents. The risk of fatal injury to welders is higher than four deaths per 1,000 over a career.
Fire and Explosions. When welding, the arc creates extreme temperatures that may reach up to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can spark and spatter up to 35 feet away.
With stats like these, it’s more obvious than ever that
This extreme heat could cause injury to the welder and the
employers must work with their employees who spend
arc spark could catch flammable material on fire in the
time welding to understand the hazards they face, protect
workspace if not properly cleared out.
against them and plan for every emergency situation that may arise.
COMMON WELDING SAFETY HAZARDS Today, nearly half a million welders are working every day with an increased risk of injury due to hazards that are
Electric Shock. The most significant threat to a welder is electrocution. The sudden discharge of electricity to the body can cause serious injury and even death. Injuries can result from the shock itself, or a fall caused by the reaction to the shock.
The most common type of electric shock is secondary voltage
protection from these things as well as long as they are
shock from an arc welding circuit, which ranges from 20 to
not outdated. Newer welding helmets are created out of
100 volts. A shock of 50 volts or less can be enough to injure or
lighter materials and designed to fit more comfortably on
kill an operator depending on the conditions.
the head to reduce fatigue and soreness.
SELECTING PPE FOR TOTAL COVERAGE
Hearing Protection. Since prolonged exposure to extreme
As laid out above, welders face safety hazards that can impact the health of their entire body. To ensure that they can work safety and efficiently, without harm, welders must wear proper PPE from head to toe. Eye and Face Protection. Protection for the head is the cornerstone of any welder’s PPE. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that those working in the welding field are at an especially high risk of on-the-job eye injuries. Welders must look to protect their head, eyes and face from hazards that are present while working.
noise can lead to hearing loss, welders must comply with OSHA’s noise standard, 29 CFR 1910. 95, which requires the use of hearing protection when the employee’s noise exposure exceeds an eight-hour, time-weighted average sound level of 90 dBA. For welders, ear plugs are often a go-to hearing protection device since they do not interfere with other PPE. Recent advances have made earplugs significantly more comfortable, and newer models provide higher levels of hearing protection and exert less pressure on the ear canal than older models. Like most forms of PPE, the more
Keeping workers protected from radiant heat and exposure
comfortable the equipment is, the more likely the workers is
is critical to reduce injuries. Welder’s Flash, a common
to wear them—and for more extended periods of time.
condition by exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation, can result in temporary blindness as well as extreme discomfort to the eyes. Most severe welding-related eye injuries result in permanent blindness. Welding helmets are often the first line of defense. Helmets can be manufactured with filter lens that can shade the eyes at a level that corresponds to that of the arc radiation generated by the application, as laid out in OSHA standard 1910.252. There are two main types of welding helmets: those with passive lenses and those with auto-darkening filter (ADF) lenses. • Passive Lenses. Helmets with passive lenses feature a fixed shade glass or poly carbonate lens that the welder can see through to conduct his work. Usually, because the shade is very dark, the welder must raise the shade to prepare for work and then move the helmet back into place before the welding begins. • ADF Lenses. ADF lenses in helmets automatically darken
For those who are not welding, but are near the work, they can wear low-profile ear-muffs. These are a versatile solution that can still be worn comfortably under the welding helmet, protecting the ears from noise but also from sparks or splatter entering the ear canal. Protective Clothing. According to ANSI Z49.1-2012, Welding and Cutting (4.3), “Appropriate protective clothing for any welding or cutting operation will vary with the size, nature and location of the work to be performed. Clothing shall provide sufficient coverage and be made of suitable materials to minimize skin burns caused by sparks, spatter or radiation. Covering all parts of the body is recommended to protect against ultraviolet and infrared ray flash burn.” Welders should wear oil-free, flame-resistant, non-melting protective apparel such as shirts, pants and caps. Approved styles include in-sleeves, aprons, coats, jackets, and coveralls. They can so wear leather leggings when necessary. Welders should stray away from wearing
in response to a change in light intensity. When the
clothing that has cuffs or open pockets, as these can
welding arc is struck, the lens instantly shifts to filter out
trap molten metal or sparks. Traditional materials (leather,
the harmful light, and when not activated, the lens
cottons and wool) and more modern materials should offer
is light enough to see through easily. This allows the
comfort and protection for welders.
welder to have the helmet in place throughout the entirety of the work, greatly increasing the protection the helmet offers.
ANSI also recommends that welders wear protective, flame-resistant gloves with incorporated insulated linings to protect against high radiant energy. There is a variety
In addition to light protection, welders must also protect
of styles and materials depending on the frequency and
their eyes and head from flying debris, weld splatter and
mobility of the welding task.
slag, and sparks and flame. Welding helmets can offer ...continued on next page 9
Foot Protection. Welders must be protected all the way
Since welders spend the majority of their time standing,
down to the toes. Because hazards like fire, heat, sparks,
comfort plays a huge part in the PPE that covers their feet.
slippery surfaces and falling objects exist for the welders,
Welders should look for footwear that features ergonomic
they must be sure to wear protective footwear.
design, improved cushioning technologies, wider toe boxes
Welders should be donning footwear featuring flame-
and lightweight foot beds.
retardant leather, abrasion- and heat-resistant stitching,
Welding is a huge business, and protecting against
protective metatarsal shields and heavy-duty rubber
every possible hazard is a delicate balancing act. Safety
outsoles that are heat-resistant to the highest temperature.
directors must access the work environment for hazards,
Recent designs feature footwear that slips on, eliminating
engage welders in a conversation on safety and efficiency
the potential for the risk of burn-through laces. For work
and select proper PPE that mitigate the top risks while
environments that might include floors that are wet or
allowing welders to be comfortable—all while remaining in
greasy, foot protection styles should include anti-slip soles to
compliance with industry standards.
help workers avoid falls.
OSHA to Focus Inspections on ‘Imminent Danger’ Sites American Society of Safety Professionals | 04.15.2020 Federal workplace safety and health inspectors will focus
protect workers. An inadequate response could prompt
on sites such as hospitals and other health-care facilities
where there is a high risk of coronavirus infection and specific complaints have been filed, OSHA said in its latest guidance.
The new guidance reflects OSHA’s need to prioritize its resources. Federal OSHA inspectors were spread thin even before the coronavirus crisis, with about 960 inspectors and
“Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to
supervisors assigned to cover all types of inspections across
COVID-19 will be prioritized for inspections, with particular
the country. Since March 1, OSHA has handled 1,819 virus-
attention given to healthcare organizations and first
related complaints, 52 employer-reported cases, and 19
responders,” the OSHAmemo said.
referrals from other sources, an OSHA spokeswoman told
The instructions, released Monday, also provides a guide
for employers and workers on how OSHA will conduct
OSHA doesn’t have a specific rule for employers to follow to
inspections and the specific violations inspectors could
control hazards posed by the coronavirus or other airborne
consider during those reviews. The new guidance comes
diseases. OSHA’s guidance highlighted several standards
a few days after the agency altered requirements to
inspectors can use to review compliance, including
limit the types of employers that must record work-related
whether workers wear eye and face protection, sanitation
protocols, general requirements for personal protective
OSHA’s latest guidance said the riskiest jobs are those
equipment, recordkeeping, respiratory protection for
where there is “high potential” for exposure to the novel
workers, and access to employee medical records.
coronavirus. Workplaces considered to have workers at
Inspectors also could use the general duty clause, a
high risk of exposure include hospitals treating infected
provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act
patients, nursing homes, emergency medical centers,
mandating that employers provide workplaces that are
home care or hospice care providers, funeral homes,
free of known hazards that can be feasibly mitigated.
biomedical laboratories, and medical transport.
OSHA said that when an on-site visit is warranted, inspectors
Businesses with lesser risk of workers being exposed to ill
should do as much of the inspection remotely as possible,
co-workers or customers will be assigned a lower priority
such as conducting by phone the inspection’s opening
for inspection, according to Monday’s guidance. In
conference with the employers. In-person interviews at
those cases, there would likely not be an inspection.
inspection sites should be done in an “uncontaminated
Instead, OSHA would contact the employer and request
an explanation of measures the employer is taking to
A Job Interrupted Versus a Job Well Done OH&S | 03.25.2020 By Anne Osbourn Confined space work presents a unique environment: one with potential health and safety risks for many workers. Identifying possible threats and pre-emptively planning to thwart them, however, could make a difference in how the workday goes. Working in a confined space can be both challenging and dangerous. Unlike other work environments, confined spaces have unique parameters and special limitations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a confined space is an area that: • Large enough for an employee to bodily enter and perform the work,
• Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard. The special conditions found within confined spaces— namely, physical and atmospheric hazards—mean these work environments should be treated with extreme caution. It should be noted that in spite of the potential dangers, working safely within them is possible. In fact, OSHA says confined space hazards can be prevented if the hazards are addressed before the worker enters the space to perform. OSHA’s standards for governing confined spaces within the construction industry are unique to the industry and
• Restrictions to entry or exit, and
designed to help ensure high safety levels. Specifically,
• Not designed for continuous human occupancy.
OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1200, Subpart AA (effective August
Furthermore, OSHA defines a permit-required confined space as one that: • Contains, or has a known potential to contain, a hazardous atmosphere, • Contains material with engulfment potential, • Has an internal configuration such that entrants could
2015) is designed to help keep construction workers safe from incident, injury, or death by what OSHA says is “eliminating and isolating hazards in confined spaces at construction sites similar to the way workers in other industries are already protected.” Standards, of course, are the guidelines employers must follow to help ensure the safety of those working in confined
be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging
spaces. Here are four other essentials that construction
walls, or a floor which slopes and tapers to a smaller
companies must consider with respect to protecting the
health and safety of their confined space work crews. ...continued on next page 11
(1) PLANNING, PREPARATION & PROCEDURES
(2) RELIABLE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
There are six groups of hazards that typically appear
Another crucial component for confined space work
in confined spaces: (1) atmospheric, (2) biological, (3)
is reliable communication equipment. A working
corrosive, (4) engulfment, (5) physical, and (6) other, such
communication system allows workers to continually
as poor visibility, inadequate lighting, or unsure footing.
maintain contact with each other as well as with those
Because of these many hazards, it’s vital that construction
stationed outside the confined space. Battery-operated,
company safety managers carefully plan for the hazards and thoroughly prepare all confined space stakeholders long before anyone enters the confined space work area. To further ensure worker safety, correct tools and equipment also must be on hand before confined space entry. Not only is a lack of proper equipment a potential safety hazard, but it’s also a waste of valuable work time. Prior to entry and use, all equipment should be checked and found to be in good working order. Protective measures should also be put in place to help ensure the safety of those outside the confined work space. Care should also be taken to prevent the accidental drop of materials into confined space entrances. One such example is erecting a barricade to prevent passersby from the dangers of an open entry. Furthermore, all confined space workers, including contractors and subcontractors, should adhere to entry permit requirements. Any deviation from the standards set on the permit should result in immediate confined space evacuation. Lastly, before any worker enters a confined work space, a system of procedures and precautions should be in place and followed by everyone—including supervisors, attendants, and entrants. These procedures should include a mandate such as this: No outside attendant,
voice-activated communication systems are ideal in confined space situations because they eliminate the need to hand-operate a device and allow more freedom of movement for the worker. Keeping communication device batteries in good working order is fundamental, and so is ensuring that each and every device’s range is sufficient for transmission from any area within the confined workspace. Make sure that lines of contact are established between inside and outside confined space personnel, too, so that help can be summoned in the event of an emergency. Personal Alert Safety Systems, or PASS devices, which are frequently used by fire services, are especially beneficial in confined spaces where communication between workers and attendants might prove difficult. These devices are designed to sound an alarm if the wearer does not move during a pre-specified period of time. The alarm alerts other confined space workers and outside attendants if and when a worker is unmoving, overcome, and needs help or extraction. Some personal multi-gas detectors have a similar alert feature, allowing them to be manually activated in the event of a hazardous condition or automatically activated if no movement is detected after a set period of time, usually 30 seconds.
under any circumstance, should ever enter the confined space. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than 60 percent of all confined space fatalities occur because attendants or unauthorized persons rush into hazardous environments without protective equipment.2 Instead, attendants may perform non-entry rescues as specified by company rescue procedures.
Depending on the confined space environment, head,
All personnel involved in confined space entry, including
eye, ear, and respiratory protection may be necessary.
supervisors, entrants, attendants, and rescue personnel
However, because confined space work inherently
should be well-trained. Individuals authorized for confined
limits entry and exit, every entrant should be equipped
space entry must have complete knowledge of the
with an ANSI-approved, full-body harness with an
space’s contents and hazards. All confined space
workers also must fully understand their duties prior to
Shoulder, back, or chest D-rings/loops may be used as
entry and if changes occur in assigned duties or confined
retrieval line attachment points.
space applications. Training must be certified.
For confined space emergencies with extremely tight
Specifically, employers should ensure that confined space
openings, a spreader bar is ideal in providing both
entrants are familiar with:
comfort and security when lowering and lifting workers.
• Signs of hazard(s) exposure
Most often, the spreader bar is used with a winch and
• Procedures for maintaining outside contact
tripod assembly that’s connected to the safety harness via shoulder attachments. This type of configuration helps keep injured or incapacitated workers in an upright position, thereby
• Warning signs, symptoms, and prohibited conditions • Donning, using, and maintaining personal protective equipment (PPE)
reducing the space needed to extract them. Integrated
• Self-rescue techniques, including safe entry and exit
web loops also may be used to secure the person’s arms
All confined space workers must be equipped with the
when lifting or lowering.
proper PPE. Under no circumstances should a worker enter a confined space without the proper equipment and the training to use it. In addition, all equipment should be inspected carefully before each use and before entry into the confined space work environment. Equipment showing signs of damage, or equipment that does not pass inspection should never be used. For more information, visit OSHA’s “Confined Spaces in Construction” webpage.
IN CONCLUSION WORKER PROTECTION IN CONFINED SPACE Confined space workers can be at risk of several serious injuries or even death. To help ensure worker safety, worksite supervisors and safety managers are encouraged to identify confined spaces and determine whether or not the work area is a permit-required confined space. As a best practice, it is a good idea for those who are tasked with overseeing worker safety to also provide workers with the necessary education, training, and the correct PPE needed to enter, work and exit the confined space work area safely. Doing so could save lives.