A hazardous and potentially deadly atmosphere is a risk that exists every time your employees enter a confined space. In fact, nine out of ten confined space fatalities are due to hazardous atmospheres.
Atmospheric testing can be one of the best lines of defense against this dangerous working condition. Confined Space Atmospheric Testing will help educate individuals on the basics and importance of proper atmospheric testing techniques for confined spaces.
Identifying Confined Spaces
OSHA defines a confined space as any space that:
- Is large enough for a person to enter and perform work in
- Has a limited opening for entry and exit
- Isn’t intended for continuous human occupancy.
Any space that contains serious hazards that could cause death or serious injury must be classified as a permit-required space.
Identifying Atmospheric Hazards
Most atmospheric hazards in a confined space are invisible to the naked eye as well as odorless. Atmospheric hazards are basically divided into three main categories:
- Unsafe oxygen levels (either oxygen deficient or oxygen enriched)
- Flammable gases
- Toxic vapors and/or toxic dust particulates.
Specialized equipment and procedures are required to detect all three of these potential dangers.
Testing for Atmospheric Hazards
Before ANY entry into a confined space, the atmosphere inside must be tested for hazards using a calibrated direct-reading instrument. Results must be noted on the entry permit.
Evaluation Testing determines:
- Chemical hazards present or that may become present in the space’s atmosphere
- Procedures and conditions that must be met to ensure that atmospheric conditions are safe for workers
- What equipment should be used.