Tips to remain safe and healthy at confined workspaces!
Considered to be one of the worst workplace hazards, working in confined spaces can be fatal if adequate precautionary measures are not adhered.
There are various kinds of dangers workers face during their day-to-day work process. Here are some of the major confined space hazards and harmful work environments which workers should note and take sufficient care and protection.
Toxic air can be quite fatal when workers encounter during course of their works. Adequate protection can save them from getting injured or facing even death. Some of the reasons for formation of toxic air are:
- Poor-isolation of solid and liquid wastes
- Improper disposing of organic matters
- Prolonged stagnation of chemical or biological residues
- Toxic gases formed from sludges or chemical deposits
- Work processes such as welding
Lack of Oxygen
Insufficient air can cause ailments, and prolonged exposure to such environment can be fatal. Asphyxiation or suffocation can be dangerous if one starts the work process without sufficient analysis or protection such as oxygen masks. If the workplace contains oxygen level less than 19.5 per cent, prolonged stay can lead to severe health complications. Oxygen levels can become low due to presence of other gases, welding activities, purging actions and biological processes.
Like lack of oxygen, presence of excessive oxygen can be dangerous as oxygen is important element to activate fire. If oxygen level goes more than 23.5%, it can trigger fire hazards as excessive oxygen can intensify fire. There are various reasons for making workplaces enriched with oxygen. Having more oxygen cylinders, usage of oxygen-enriched items and improper usage of oxygen are some of the reasons for this hazard.
Flammable gases and liquids
Confined spaces are likely to have combustible gases which can endanger employees with the possibilities of massive fire and explosions.
Paces like tunnels, ditch, sewer lines can be dangerous as due to water stagnation, the ground will not be stable and there are always chances of collapse, cave-in and getting buried under the debris or sludge. It is therefore critical to assess the risk, possibility of dangers and rescue measures, etc to safeguard workers.
Sudden inflow of fluid and chances of drowning
In places like coal mines, sudden inflow of water can be fatal. Similarly, surge of any liquid can be dangerous. Workplace mangers should have sustainable escape plans for workers in case of such contingencies.
Insufficient moving space
Prolonged stay in such inhuman work conditions can increase the risk of serious health ailments such as musculoskeletal disorders. Employees should be frequently moved to normal condition to avoid such health issues.
Confined spaces can spell doom to workers if temperatures go below or above certain levels. There are quite a few reasons for the temperature to go above normal levels. Lack of proper ventilation ducts, work activities and lack of movement of air to dissipate heat can increase the heat levels.
There are other hazards at confined places which include excessive noise levels and biological reasons such as presence of poisonous insects, deadly microorganisms, snakes and bio-agents such as legionnaire which can instantly kill people who work without protections.
Even tools and operational processes can also be dangerous if workers don’t handle them properly.
So, it not that confined spaces should be avoided. If workers take sufficient care and protection then such workplaces can be as safe as any other places.