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ASSUMPTIONS AND FACTS ABOUT CONFINED SPACE WORK IN BC

In the past decade there were 18 Confined Space Rescue fatalities in BC[1], this number does not include documented and undocumented injuries[2] and near misses in the province. 60% of fatalities in confined spaces are untrained would be rescuers[3].  All 18 BC fatalities were preventable had the employers known and followed their responsibilities under WSBC Part 9 or COHSR Part XI…

ALL confined spaces on the worksite must be inventoried, appropriately secured and visually identified.  Confined spaces that need to be accessed must have a hazard assessment completed b  y a, WSBC recognized, Qualified Person.  Before a worker is permitted to enter a confined space, it is the employer’s responsibility to prepare and implement a written confined space entry program.  The employer must plan for rescue services (Compliant with Part WSBC 9 and 32) when a worker enters a confined space[4].  Dependent on the hazard assessment, that rescue team may need to be “in attendance outside the confined space”[5].

ASSUMPTION; WE CAN JUST CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT…

According to Worksafe BC, (Prevention information; 1 888 621 7333) an employer is not permitted to simply list 911 as the primary rescue resource for confined space on their Emergency Response Plan. http://www2.worksafebc.com/Publications/Multimedia/Videos.asp?ReportID=35170

ASSUMPTION; WE DON’T HAVE ANY CONFINED SPACES ON SITE…

Confined spaces can remain unrecognized for years, Part 9 of WSBC regulation[6] defines a Confined Space Rescue as a space that;

(a) is enclosed or partially enclosed,

(b) is not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy,

(c) has limited or restricted means for entry or exit that may complicate the provision of first aid, evacuation, rescue or other emergency response service, and

(d) is large enough and so configured that a worker could enter to perform assigned work; (such as cleaning, maintenance, inspection & repair.)

Tanks, boilers, vats, kilns, vaults, silos, pipes, sewers, manure pits, storage bins, ship holds, pumping stations, pits, sumps, vessels, manholes, water reservoirs, equipment sheds etc can all be examples of confined spaces.

ASSUMPTION; WE HAVE AN OLD BINDER WITH HAZARD ASSESSMENTS WE HAVE ALWAYS USED, SO WE ARE COVERED…

Hazard assessments for a confined space must be reviewed by a Qualified Person at least once every 3 years[7].

ASSUMPTION; BUT WE DON’T USE ANY TOXIC CHEMICALS AT OUR SITE, SO THERE IS NO HAZARD…

A confined space is identified solely by physical design/configuration and does not take into account any other factors such as likelihood of incident, atmospheric toxicity or difficulty of work being performed. A less obvious hazard to consider is low oxygen which can result in sudden unconsciousness and death.

ASSUMPTION; WE ONLY NEED TO GO IN THERE ONCE A YEAR AND ONLY FOR A DAY, WE DON’T NEED TO DO AN ASSESSMENT…

The duration or frequency of work to be done does not change the employer’s responsibilities.  A worker is considered to have “entered” a confined space as soon as their head crosses the plane of the opening[8].

ASSUMPTION; ANOTHER WORKER CAN JUST HOLD HIS BREATH AND GO QUICKLY GRAB THE INJURED WORKER FROM THE SPACE…

60% of victims in Confined Space Rescue fatalities are ‘would be’ rescuers, some are even trained paramedics. A properly trained, equipped and prepared Confined Space Rescue team must be available for the duration of the work.

ASSUMPTION; THERE IS LOTS OF FRESH AIR THAT BLOWS THROUGH THE SPACE NATURALLY, SO THERE IS NO HAZARD…

ALL confined spaces must have an atmospheric test prior to work being performed[9]. Natural ventilation is not always effective.

Things to consider as a supervisor, manager or owner;

  • What happens if there is an unexpected change in the atmosphere?
  • How will you get your workers out/down if they are ill or injured?
  • How important is the safety and wellbeing of your staff and their families?

The Criminal Code of Canada has recently been amended to allow criminal prosecution of senior directors, management and supervisors for workplace negligence resulting in harm. If something goes wrong are you con fident you have done all you could to prevent it?

IS YOUR STAFF PROPERLY PREPARED TO EVACUATE A WORKER IN A CONFINED SPACE IF AN EMERGENCY OCCURS?

We can answer all these questions and provide a sense of confidence in your workers that they are being looked after at work.

FULLY EQUIPPED WITH:

  • Certified Confined Space Rescue Technicians
  • WSBC compliant site specific Emergency Response Plans
  • WSBC compliant site specific Safe Work Plans
  • Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus capabilities
  • Air Monitoring equipment and training
  • Rigging & Rope Access experience, equipment and training
  • Emergency Responders & 1st Aid equipment

We know you care for your workers and don’t want them injured at work; we can help minimize injuries and ensure effective quick evacuation should anything unexpected happen.



[3] CCOHS, (July 4 2012), http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprograms/confinedspace_intro.html, Accessed May 23, 2014

[4] WSBC OHS regulations, (nd)  http://www2.worksafebc.com/publications/OHSRegulation/Part9.asp, Accessed May 23, 2014

[6] WSBC OHS regulations, (nd)  http://www2.worksafebc.com/publications/ohsregulation/part9.asp, Accessed May 23, 2014