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11 Deadly confined space hazards that every safety officers should know - Complete Guide

There is no need to emphasize the confined space works  are , one of the most dangerous and ever killing activity , which every safety practitioners must be familiar with.

Here I have defined you the 11 deadly confined hazards, which you must taken into account before start your work.

Deadly Hazard 1 : Presence of Toxic Atmosphere 

Presence of toxic atmosphere is an common and ever known hazard , which causes most of the confined space fatalities to occur . Ex: H2S 

So before you are starting your work , remember the chances of likely presence of toxic atmosphere.

Toxic atmosphere may present by,

  • The ingress of solid or Liquid residues ( By Poor Isolation )
  • Rotting of organic matters 
  • Previous storage or residues ( Ex:In vessels )
  • Arising from the Disturbance of sludge or deposits  ( Ex: sewer )
  • Produced from the Work processes ( Ex: Fume from welding )

Deadly Hazard 2 :Oxygen deficiency

The atmosphere containing less than 19.5 % should be considered as oxygen deficient atmosphere , where the risk of asphyxiation or suffocation starts. 
There are number of cases , where the employees are killed by reduced oxygen levels in the confined space . 

Reasons for Oxygen deficiency :

  • The Replacements of oxygen by other Gases 
  • The purging actions will reduce the oxygen below 8 - 12 % 
  • The activities such as welding may reduce the oxygen by producing fume 
  • By Biological Process ex:rotting of organic materials 

Deadly Hazard 3 :Oxygen Enrichment :

Remember the Oxygen is an most important element for the fire to occur and to continually burn. 

As like oxygen deficiency, the oxygen enrichment also hazardous by increasing the risk of fire and explosion . The atmosphere containing the oxygen more than 23.5 % should be considered as oxygen enriched atmosphere where the materials burs with more intensity by increased oxygen supply. 
Materials which do not burn in air, including fireproofing materials, may burn vigorously or even spontaneously in oxygen-enriched air

Reasons for the Oxygen Enrichment :

  • Storage of  oxygen cylinders 
  • The use of  oxygen enriched materials 
  • The incorrect use of oxygen 
  • Trying to sweetening the air etc. 

Deadly Hazard 4 : Presence of Flammable Gases & Dust

Confined spaces are more prone for the presence of flammable gases which can kill your employees by the increased risk of fire and Explosion. 

Easier example : H2S which is highly flammable and Explosive. 

Deadly Hazard 5 : Instability and the risk of collapse :

There are occurrence , where the employees are killed by the collapse of confined space and engulfment.

Which may normally happens in Ditch and sewers .tunnels . 

Remember : Its important to assess the likelihood instability of place and the activities which may reduce the stability. 

Deadly Hazard 6 : Drowning by Free flowing liquid :

The accidental release of any form of  fluids can fill the person and can kill , where the person unable to rescue themselves. 

Mostly the drowning occur by the accidental release of energy sources. 

Deadly Hazard 7 : Low width & Head room :

Confined spaces are not designed for occupancy , where we will not able to find the place with sufficient height and width . 

Working with inadequate space may require your employees to adopt poor posture , which may increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. 

Deadly Hazards 8. Heat 

The temperature when it is above or below the comfort levels , the confined spaces are prone to increased temperature by number of reasons  such as, 

  • Failure or lack of ventilation systems 
  • The activities which may giving rise to heat 
  • Poor air movements reducing the heat transfer 

Deadly Hazard 9 : Noise 

The confined spaces are fully or partially enclosed , where there is no possible ways for the noise to escape. 

There is a risk of increased noise levels inside the confined space , which may increase the noise levels by continuous noise reflections (echo)

Deadly Hazard 10 : Biological 

The presence of insects , snacks  are commonly found hazards in sewer , ditch , well etc, which can kill the person more easily. 

Not only the insects , even the presence of other biological agents such as legionnaire, deadly viruses which can induce hepatitis may also present.

So Before start your assessments , check the possible presence of biological hazards. 

Deadly Hazard : 11 :Arising from Operations & tools :

Each and every operations and tools having their own hazards and risks , irrespective of the place where it is carried out.

So consider the possible hazards that may arise from the tools & operations. 

Examples : 

  • The Vibration produced from the portable tools 
  • The drilling operations which may reduce the stability etc.

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