9 Guidelines for Working in Confined Spaces to Always Be Safe

confined space

Table of Contents

What is confined space? It is an area that has limited entry and exit routes, is not designed for shelter and also contains one or more hazards. Limited space means space that is large enough and has a structure in such a way that workers can enter and do work in it.

Still related to working in confined spaces has limited entry and exit points. In it contains an atmosphere of air or harmful gases, for example from chemicals, material deposits, and dirt. Confined space is designed in such a way, it can make workers in it get trapped or experience shortness of breath due to walls that curve inward or steep floors that lead to hallways or narrower spaces.

1. Know what areas are included in the confined space category?

As workers who are ready to be involved in everything, including working in a confined space, must know what jobs are included in this? And below are some of the types of confined space jobs that you should be aware of.

confined space pipework welding
Confined Space Pipework Welding
  • Tank
  • Transport vessel
  • Heating boiler (boiler)
  • Underground sewer (sewer)
  • Tubs (Bins or pouring funnel hoppers)
  • Furnaces (furnaces)
  • Pipe network
  • Underground tunnels
  • Air duct
  • Excavations more than 1.5 meters deep

2. Pay attention to what potential hazards exist in confined spaces?

The types of hazards you need to identify in confined spaces include:

confined space Hazard symbols
Confined Space Hazard symbols
  • Oxygen Deficiency or excess oxygen in the air. The oxygen concentration in the air is below 19.5% or more than 23.5%
  • Fire or explosion caused by flammable gases and liquids
  • Poisoning with poisonous liquids, gases and vapors
  • Irritation or burns to the skin from direct contact with chemicals
  • Explosions caused by flammable particles
  • Mechanical energy hazards
  • Electrical hazards
  • Slippery surface hazard
  • Ergonomic hazards
  • Noise
  • Trips, slips, and falls
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Closed entry or exit lines
  • Entry of hazardous materials from outside confined spaces
  • Falling objects from above

3. Does all work in confined spaces require an entry permit?

Basically, the workers involved are obliged to make an entry permit, if the confined space has the nature of containing hazardous air, dangerous liquids or gases, mechanical and electrical equipment, contains materials that have the potential to obstruct the entry or exit route, and has certain forms that can make workers trapped in therein.

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However, there are also jobs in confined spaces where workers are not required to make an entry permit, which is a limited space that does not contain harmful substances but contains objects that can cause death or serious injury, such as falling ceilings or moving objects.

4. Who are the personnel involved in work in confined spaces?

Working in a confined space, usually with a team. And you must understand that the personnel involved in working in confined spaces include:

  • Limited space job supervisor (Entry Supervisor)
  • The main officer (entrant) / workers who physically enter the confined space to carry out their work.
  • Middle or assistant officers (attendants). Workers who stand guard outside one or more confined spaces and are in charge of supervising the main officer.
  • Rescue and emergency responders
  • All workers involved in work in confined spaces must be trained to ensure all work is carried out according to safe working procedures.

5. How important is personnel training for work in confined spaces?

Confined Space Work
Personnel Confined Space Work

Very important. Supervisors, attendants, workers entering confined spaces and rescue personnel need to receive training on working safely in confined spaces. It is important that everyone involved in work in confined spaces is properly trained by a competent person.
Confined space training programs include:

  • Safe working procedures in confined spaces
  • The hazards of working in confined spaces
  • Control measures
  • Emergency procedures
  • Selection, use and maintenance of safety equipment

6. What personal protective equipment is needed for work in confined spaces?

Personal protective equipment needed when working in a limited space includes a safety helmet, earmuff or earplug, safety belt, goggles or face shield, safety boots, respirator, and safety coverall. The personal protective equipment must be used by workers when entering confined spaces.

The nature of personal protective equipment is not to eliminate hazards, but to minimize or reduce the consequences of hazards that can befall workers. For working in confined spaces, respiratory protection, such as the supply of clean air through a hose and SCBA is required if the air in the room is dangerous or toxic.

7. What safety equipment should be provided when working in confined spaces?

  • Testing and monitoring equipment in confined spaces to check hazardous air ranging from oxygen concentration to concentrations of hazardous vapors and gases.
  • Air exhaust equipment (ventilation system)
  • Communication equipment needed to monitor workers entering confined spaces and notify workers of an emergency and an evacuation is necessary.
  • Equipment for additional lighting so that workers can see clearly at work and get out of the room immediately in an emergency
  • Other equipment, such as ladders, tripods and fall arrestors, full body harness, etc.
  • Equipment for rescue and emergency situations
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8. How is the rescue and emergency response in confined spaces?

Management is obliged to select rescue and emergency response teams, provide training, and evaluate their abilities regularly. Also inform rescue and emergency response teams about the dangers that exist in the confined space that is the location of the rescue.

Rescue and emergency response regulations should include:

  • Rescue procedures and equipment used
  • Fire safety
  • Control around the site
  • First aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Emergency services
  • Training

Apart from carrying out the rescue by calling the rescue team to enter the confined space, rescue without having to enter the room can also be done, unless the equipment to save the worker increases the risk or cannot save the main officer.

In this rescue, personnel can use a retrieval system or recall. In this retrieval system, all main officers and intermediate officers must use the full body harness. The tow strap is attached to the back of the shoulder and the other end of the tow strap is attached to the mechanical towing tool.

9. What stages should be considered when working in a confined space?

Preparation before working in confined spaces:

  • Ensure conditions and safety in the confined space work area before work starts.
  • Conduct a risk assessment. Risk assessments must be carried out to identify hazards, assess their risks, and determine control measures that must be taken, so that all risks that exist in confined spaces can be minimized. All risk assessment results must be properly documented.
  • Making work permits to enter confined spaces that require entry permits. This work permit is very important to ensure that the workers involved are competent and understand and follow safety procedures for working in confined spaces.
  • Perform air testing or check gas content. Testing of the atmosphere in confined spaces is carried out by a competent person to ensure that the atmosphere is free of flammable and toxic vapors or gases and that the oxygen concentration in the room is adequate.
  • Prepare the necessary personal protective equipment and supporting equipment. All equipment to be used must take into account possible flammable atmospheres, emissions from smoke or gas, electrical risks and engineering hazards (trapping, falling, etc.).
  • Insulate gases, liquids and other materials. The limited space needs to be isolated from the possible entry of materials that could endanger the workers in the room. Insulation includes closing the pipe or duct, inserting a suitable sealing material in the insulated portion of the process pipe, and using two layers of isolation valves.
  • Insulate mechanical and electrical equipment. Locking and labeling are required to isolate mechanical and electrical equipment. This aims to prevent work accidents that result from direct exposure to mechanical and electrical equipment.
  • Perform cleaning and discharge of gases and liquids in confined spaces. The pressure in the confined space must be lowered and the remaining liquid must be discharged through the drain. Perform gas cleaning until it reaches a point below flammability, then air may be exhaled using the ventilation system.
  • Use the necessary ventilation system. The use of additional ventilation is also needed to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in confined spaces. Ventilation monitoring should be continued throughout the work.
  • Ensure the necessary communication systems are adequate. Communication systems include speech, hand signals, telephone, radio, or other systems. In essence, make sure that communication between the workers inside and the workers outside the confined space is made easily, quickly and clearly.
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This is important when working in confined spaces

At least one person must be outside the room during the activity.

  • Always obey the health and safety signs for the limited space in the work area.
  • Always check gas content and temperature in confined spaces.
  • If you are using an oxygen-supplied breathing apparatus, always check the condition of the cylinder and the oxygen content.

Ensure that during work implementation all procedures are followed and that each worker involved carries out their respective responsibilities and uses personal protection recommended and listed on the work permit.

Carry out a final inspection to ensure that no equipment and materials are left behind, all workers have left the confined space, all insulation has been removed and positioned correctly, and that all permits have been returned and the room has been closed. If you need an example of a proper inspection visit here. Thank you.

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About the Author: Andres Ina Rivai

Good work is always to follow good and precise procedures. Don't forget that safety and health at work are always the top priority

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