27 Nov 2013
According to OSHA, a confined space is a space that is large enough to physically enter, but is not intended for human occupancy and has limited entry or egress. Because of the dangers of confined space rescue, confined space rescue training is one of the more demanding disciplines of technical rescue. Confined spaces can be found in various different industries in the workplace and on farms. Even trenches can be considered confined spaces. Sadly, it used to be that 60% of all confined space deaths were attributed to would-be rescuers. This means that more people were getting killed trying to rescue someone in trouble than the actual workers who got into trouble in the first place. Oftentimes these would-be rescuers included coworkers sometimes firefighters. However, due to heightened confined space awareness over the years and the increase of confined space rescue training courses available, the number of fatalities due to confined space scenarios has fortunately gone down. The effectiveness of confined space rescue training has been proven, so you have no reason to neglect it.
Confined space rescue training is made much easier and more organized by using the essential technical rescue field operations guide. The confined space section begins with a command checklist which helps rescuers note important steps at the beginning of the confined space rescue process. The same section also includes critical OSHA definitions and acceptable conditions upon entry. This is all situated within a confined space entry safety checklist. The importance of this checklist cannot be underscored enough! It allows the team leader to remember every single important facet of the confined space entry before rescuers begin entering the space. Not only does the checklist help team leaders and workers better follow correct confined space procedures, but it also builds memory and promotes good habits among workers.
It is important that any and every worker who enters a confined space has received the appropriate training and hands on experience. More specifically, they should be trained on the following:
- Recognition and identification of possible hazards related to confined spaces that will have to be entered.
- Evaluation and control procedures for these recognized potential threats.
- Setup, use, and restrictions of any and all equipment used in the confined space rescue process. This includes emergency equipment, ventilation equipment such as blowers, hazardous energy control, isolation and lockout equipment, and air quality monitors such as oxygen or combustible meters.
- Setup, use, and restrictions of all personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators and full body harnesses, that could possibly be used within the confined space.
- Every single safe work practice and procedure for entering confined spaces as stated in the employer’s Confined Space Hazard Assessment Program.
- Which procedures to follow in the event of a scenario occurring that could increase the risk to the worker or the overall situation.
- What specific work needs to be done while in the confined space.
- How to work in a manner that will not endanger any fellow workers’ lives.
Employers should make it a habit to document all confined spaces training. This should also include refresher courses. Workers who have extra emergency rescue responsibilities will need additional specialized training. For everyone else, confined space rescue training should be absolutely imperative before working in any confined spaces. Remember, a majority of fatalities before confined space training became prevalent were to would-be rescuers, not the actual workers who initially got into trouble. So to reduce and prevent injuries and fatalities relating to confined space entry, the proper training and hands on experience is absolutely essential. Don’t try to be the hero and rescue someone in a confined space without training; you will only become another victim. Take the confined rescue training course and you can approach situations like these with utmost confidence and possibly even save someone’s life.
Too many times, employees on a job site are injured or killed because they thought a machine was off, or the power to the machine was safely turned off when it wasn’t. Lock out tag out training is the best measure you can take to prevent these types of accidents from happening on the job site. It has actually been estimated that lock out tag out training saves 120 lives a year and prevents 50 thousand injuries a year. Lock out tag out is a method of protecting workers by making completely sure that all machines are turned completely off before operating on them or working around them. If you don’t have a lock out tag out program on your job site, then you are running the risk of machines unexpectedly starting back up at inopportune times. Machines have the tendency to start back up on their own when stored energy was not correctly released, or when someone starts the machine back up themselves without first checking with everyone else in the vicinity that it is safe to do so.
According to the lock out tag out standard, it is required that hazardous energy sources, before any maintenance or service is done, be “isolated and rendered inoperative.” Energy sources that are considered hazardous are:
These energy sources can be active currents or stored in a capacitor. Failure to recognize any and all energy sources and which ones are potentially dangerous is imperative to worker safety. Always remember, all sources must be “isolated and rendered inoperative.”
According to OSHA, there should be 3 basic requirements for a lock out tag out program. The 3 main elements are training, written procedures, and inspections. Authorized employees and affected employees must be trained in lock out tag out safety. Authorized employees are the ones who perform maintenance and/or servicing work on the machines and perform the actual lock out tag out. Affected employees are anyone who could possibly be affected in any way by equipment that is locked or tagged out. Employees who are considered “affected” do not actually perform servicing or maintenance work, but they still need to be aware of lock out tag out procedures and their place in them.
As we have already mentioned, lock out tag out procedures require written procedures that detail the lock out tag out proceedings. This is REQUIRED for any machines that operate off of 2 or more energy sources. The importance of written procedures cannot be understated. Written procedures convey any and all important information to the workers who will be performing the lock out tag out and should include step by step instructions for locking and tagging out any energy sources, releasing any stored energy inside of the machines, and confirming that the machines cannot be restarted once the lockout has been applied. Clear and concise documentation is required for any group lock out tag out procedures and these procedures need to be kept up to date. Any changes made to the written procedures must be communicated to anyone and everyone who could possibly be affected by the changes. Supervisors and managers also need to check and double check that all the information contained in the written procedures is correct. It should go without saying that miscommunication when dealing with machines can be deadly.
The Basic Steps of a Lock Out Tag Out
Think, plan, check, and double check.
- Those who are in charge must think through the entire procedure.
- Recognize all parts of the system that need to be shut down.
- Decide which switches, people, and machines will be involved with the process.
- CAREFULLY plan how restarting the machine will occur.
- Alert all relevant persons that a lock out tag out is about to occur.
- Recognize all relevant power sources regardless of their distance from the job site.
- Recognize all electrical circuits, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, spring energy, and gravity systems regardless of their distance from the job site.
Neutralize all relevant power at the source.
- Disconnect the electricity.
- Block all movable parts.
- Block or release spring energy.
- Bleed or drain all pneumatic and hydraulic lines.
- Lower all suspended parts to resting positions.
All power sources must be locked out!
- You should be using a lock that is specifically designed for this procedure.
- Each and every employee should have their own personal lock.
Tag out any and all machines and power sources.
- Machine controls. starter switches, pressure lines, and suspended parts should all be tagged.
- All tags must include your name, your department, how you can be contacted, the date and time of the lock out, and the reason for the lock out.
Perform a COMPLETE test.
- Check, double check, then check again all the steps we have mentioned.
- Personally check everything!
- Test the system by pushing start buttons, operate valves, and test circuits.
Make sure to follow all safety procedures for restart once the job has been completed. Only remove your own locks and tags. Once all machines are ready and all workers are deemed safe, you can now turn the power back on and get to to work.
Lock out tag out training cannot be understated in its importance. Make sure you and your fellow employees are properly trained in lock out tag out procedures whether you are directly involved in the lock out tag out process, or if you are a worker who will be affected or will be working in the vicinity of one of these machines. Lock out tag out training will not only prevent injuries and increase safety standards on the job site, but it will also save lives!
The simplest answer anyone can give to explain why CPR training for the workplace is important is the fact that it saves lives. When someone in the workplace suddenly goes into cardiac arrest and there is no one around who knows how to perform CPR or use an AED (automated external defibrillator), then that person’s chances of survival decreases significantly. There is also the increased chance of significant damage being done to the person’s heart, brain, and other vital organs should they survive the ordeal. However, if there is someone around who knows CPR and how to operate an AED when an employee goes into cardiac arrest or stops breathing, then they have a chance of not only saving that person’s life, but they could also significantly reduce the risk of that person suffering damage to their heart, brain, and other vital organs since CPR helps keep the body oxygenated until professional help arrives. If the body is kept oxygenated until the paramedics arrive, then the victim is much less likely to suffer brain damage, heart damage, vital organ damage, or death. We may be sounding redundant, but the importance of CPR training, AED training, and first aid training cannot be stated strongly enough!
The leading cause of death among adults over 40 years old in the United States is sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA. Most people know this as a heart attack, and in the United States alone almost 360 thousand people a year experience EMS-assessed SCA outside of a hospital. Sadly, 9 out of every 10 of these people end up dying because help could not get there quick enough. That’s almost a thousand people a day dying from heart attacks suffered while outside of the hospital. To help you get a better idea of how big this problem is, note that the number of people who die from SCA each year is equivalent to the number of people who die from assault with firearms, Alzheimer’s disease, cervical cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, HIV, diabetes, motor vehicle accidents, house fires, prostate cancer, and suicides COMBINED. With CPR training, you can help reduce this frightening number.
It goes without saying that CPR training is important and should be taken by all employees, regardless if it’s required or not in your industry. However, OSHA does have requirements relating to first aid and CPR preparation within the workplace. Depending on the industry you are in, you may have to provide CPR and first aid training to ALL of your employees, not just some of them. Usually, employers are motivated by compliance standards when deciding to certify their employees, but even though it is just one part of the entire occupational health and safety field, it is one of the most important, if not THE most important form of training you will ever take. Overlooking the importance of CPR training in the workplace is not a mistake you want to make.
If you are an employee of a company and you feel you could use CPR training even though it is not required for you, you can still check to see what CPR, AED, and first aid training classes are available. Knowing CPR won’t just benefit you in the workplace, but it will also benefit you at home and out in public. The difference between knowing CPR and not knowing CPR could be life or death for a close friend or loved one. Also remember that simply knowing CPR will give you a better sense of calm in dire situations and will allow you to make wiser and more thought out decisions when they are most important. When someone’s life is hanging in the balance, you will want all the confidence you can get.