Globally approximately 2.1 million workers enter and work inside a confined space every year. The statistics of working in confined spaces are alarming. Only 15 percent of those involved in confined space incidences are trained to work in them. Among teams involved in incidents, none have a rescue plan. And 60 percent of those who suffer fatalities in confined spaces are rescuers who attempt to bring a team member to safety. Perhaps most shockingly, 85 percent of accidents in confined spaces occur in the presence of supervisors.
What is a Confined Space?
According to OSHA, a confined space must meet the following criteria:
- Large enough for an employee to bodily enter and work;
- Limited or restricted means of entry and exit; and
- Not designed for continuous occupancy.
In confined space a proper system to work should have:
- Arrangement for lowering and raising;
- Equipment for fall protection;
- Arrangement for Rescue / Retrieval.
If any of the above listed requirement is not met, there is risk to the user. Let us understand it completely.
- Tripod – is a certified anchor above floor level to install and for handling tripod system components
It provides access to the confined space by establishing a mobile anchor point for equipment that is meant for lowering/ lifting the user, fall protection and retrieval / rescue.
- Winch – for Lowering and Lifting the user
Winch is used for lowering and lifting the user in and out of confined spaces. It is manually operated and comes in varying lengths. Winch is installed on one of the legs of Tripod.
KARAM offers different types of Winches conforming to EN 1496 :2017 and Machine Directives 2006/42/EC.
So, seeing the above two components, one may assume that Tripod and Winch would be enough to work in confined spaces safely.
But is it so?
Tripod and Winch are not enough!!!
Here, the fall protection equipment is missing.
A complete solution includes fall protection with the use of ladders, Self-Retracting Life lines or a combination winch.
- Retrieval Retractable Block – for Fall Protection, Rescue and Retrieval
This combination system has rescue abilities of winch and the ease of a self-retracting lifeline in one unit and works in two modes:
- Retractable mode (For Fall Arrest) – enables the user to move freely and arrests the user in case of a fall, with minimum fall arrest distance.
- Winch mode (For Rescue) – In case of a fall the winch mode helps in easy rescue. It helps easy movement of user while working in confined spaces with the support of a ladder.
So, it performs in
- Fall protection and rescue/retrieval when used with a ladder.
- Fall protection when used with a basic winch.
- Rescue/retrieval when used with a standalone self-retracting lifeline and a ladder.
All the above-mentioned equipment is of no use if the user doesn’t have the E or Education (Training) for using the equipment safely and properly. Hence it is recommended that all workers required to enter confined space must undergo Competency training on the same. All of this is in addition to thorough Risk Assessment, Gas Testing & continuous monitoring, purging & ventilation, SCBA, if required, and a trained Hole Watcher stationed outside. A comprehensive Confined Space plan will ensure safe and timely completion of work as well as foster taking care of any situation.