Every construction project requires extensive planning and hard work. However, when you’re managing a confined space project, you need to work even harder to make sure that your team is safe and supported.
If you are running a construction business, you need to make sure that you are looking after your team at all times. If their health or safety is put at risk on the job, you could risk serious injury or even legal claims if you haven’t done everything you should have.
Confined spaces on a construction site present a whole new set of risks that need to be addressed. In this guide, we are going to provide you with some tips to help you with your first confined space project. Read on to find out more about what you should do.
What Is a Confined Space?
Before we start with the tips, we thought we would first look at what exactly counts as a confined space. In construction, a confined space is defined as a space which is largely enclosed but not entirely. Some examples of confined spaces include spaces with adverse natural ventilation, smaller openings for entry and exit or spaces that are unfavourable for continuous occupancy.
These spaces might be small crevices, underground caves or manmade structures, such as storage bins or tanks, in which your team need to work.
So, if you are planning on having your works dive into a tunnel or a pipeline, they will likely be dealing with a confined space. In this case, you’ll need to take on board our tips and protect your team as much as physically possible.
Invest In Ventilation
In many cases, a confined space project involves a space that doesn’t have very good ventilation. If you want to be prepared for your first confined space construction project, you should consider investing in some additional ventilation. We’re talking blowers or fans that can help to move the air around and keep the worker safe when they are in the confined space.
Not only should the air be clear for them to breathe but it should also be the right temperature. Temperature can be difficult to control underground or in a pipe so you’ll need that ventilation to help you. Workers need to be both safe and able to work comfortably. Don’t forget if the conditions aren’t great, they will find it harder to get the job completed on time. If you don’t have ventilation on standby, you won’t be ready for your first job.
Perform Risk Assessments
On a construction site, risk assessments are very important, regardless of the kind of task that you are going to be working on. If you have been working in the construction industry for quite some time, you will have performed a risk assessment or two over the years. Before you set off on your first confined space project, or any project for that matter, you should perform an extensive risk assessment.
The risk assessment will help you to determine whether the project is possible or not. Some of the things that you should look at in your plan include any engulfment hazards, hazardous atmospheres, entrapment hazards and additional health and safety hazards. The risk assessment can also help you to create the rescue plan so it is very important.
Understand Confined Space Rescue In The Event Of An Emergency
The last thing you want is for one of your team to be trapped in the confined space as this will be both uncomfortable for them and dangerous. For this reason, before your first project, you need to develop a confined space rescue plan. Rescues are very stressful and without a plan in place, you could find that your team panic and make mistakes. The plan should help you to conduct the confined space rescue in a straightforward way, without putting any members of the rescue team in danger.
Once you have created your plan, you must share this with the rest of the group. Everyone should know what to do in an emergency. It can also be useful to have an emergency team on standby.
Learn About the Need for Permits
Our next tip for project managers who are setting off on their first confined space project is to understand the need for permits. You could find that you will need to have any workers who are entering confined spaces on the job sign a work permit before they continue. If you don’t have these permits in place, you could find that there are issues further down the line.
The permits ensure that the confined space is safe to enter and it will usually include the names of those involved in the project, the training involved and a risk assessment. Permits are very important so don’t ignore this when planning the project.
The first time running any kind of construction project can be overwhelming and risky. However, as a construction project manager or employer, you need to be confident that you are looking after your team. If you are planning a confined space project, you must have a rescue plan in place. If you don’t, you could face severe consequences.
Being proactive and using this article, you’ll be able to reduce the risks of a serious incident and help your team to feel safe throughout your project. All of this preparation might seem like a lot of work, but it is essential for the success of your project and the safety of everyone involved.
So, when you’re undertaking confined space construction, make sure that you take on board all of the tips that we have given you in this article and put them into practice. The safety of your team should be your first priority, regardless of how urgent your client needs the project to be completed. Health and safety must always come first in construction, so invest time, effort and money into ensuring that your team feels safe whenever they’re working in confined spaces.