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3 Tips For Improving Safety Around Confined Spaces

Do you have employees who work in or around confined spaces? Do they perhaps have to work around manholes, deep wells, or the open tops of large pieces of machinery? One of the most dangerous risks surrounding this kind of work is the possibility of falling into the confined space. The space could be extremely deep, meaning the worker could fall a great distance and face serious impact. Or the confined space may have limited oxygen or other dangerous conditions. If your workers face this type of safety risk, it's important that you have a plan in place. Here are three tips to keep your workers safe around confined spaces:

Have the right equipment. Many falls happen simply because the worker doesn't have the necessary equipment to do the job safely. If falling into a confined space is a possibility, then there are generally three pieces of equipment that are needed. The first is a harness that wraps around the worker's body. That harness should be connected to the second piece of equipment, which is a tether. Finally, the tether should be connected to an anchor mounted on the ground or some other strong base. The combination of these three elements should break the worker's fall and make rescue a simple process.

Train regularly. Many falls also happen because the workers are operating in an unsafe manner. They may get too close to the edge of the confined space. Or they may have the tether and other equipment calibrated incorrectly. You can prevent these mistakes by holding regular training sessions. Have a professional trainer come in to do the session. Many confined space safety equipment vendors offer training assistance to help keep your workers safe.

Implement a "No rescue" policy. Finally, it's important that your workers know what to do in the event of a fall. In many cases, workers make an attempt to rescue their fallen colleague. This can often be a bad idea. The would-be rescuers may suffer the same fate as the fallen worker, and then you have multiple injuries or even deaths.

Talk to your workers about the proper response. There may be some action they need to take with the anchor and tether to secure the fallen worker. They'll likely need to call for emergency assistance. And they may need to try and establish communication with the worker to gauge whether he or she is alive. Give them a step-by-step process to follow so they don't try and take matters into their own hands.

For more information, contact a vendor like Public Works Supply that sells confined space safety equipment. They can help you gauge your company's risk level and they can help you develop a safety program.