It’s been over a week and I can’t stop thinking about the tragic events that happened on a New South Wales farm in February this year.
Three members of the same family were found deceased in a water tank on the family’s property. When I write this article it is feared that they have been succumbed by a gas produced by the petrol driven, high pressure water pump being used to clean a water tank on the property. I speculate that members of the initial person’s family have gone to his aid and perished. To me this makes the situation all that more tragic.
If faced with similar circumstances I too would rush to the aid of a family member without considering the danger I am placing myself in. Drawn to the articles on the subject, I am terribly sorry for the loss of these hard working, pillars of their community.
I wonder what I can do to warn people of the dangers of working in a confined space. Yes, I know it’s defined in law and illegal to work in a confined space without being competent. That doesn’t help if you just don’t know. Working in the Vocational Training Industry (VET) I thought, at the very least, I could post the competencies of one of the confined space units we train in, RIIWHS202D – Enter and work in confined spaces. This is so that people could at least have a basis to consider what a confined space is and what has to be done to try and prevent things like this happening again.
Of course I want to encourage as many people as possible who are exposed to confined spaces to get this training. On the upside even without training, a simple four step process, if followed, could save lives.
Nothing will replace the delivery of accredited training from a good Registered Training Organisation and their trainer. Because, as you can see below there is some background knowledge that is required to be able to recognise a confined space in the first place, not to mention understanding of supporting safe work regulations and precautionary things like rescue equipment.
Plan and prepare for working in confined space
- Access, interpret and apply procedures for confined space entry and the environmental management plan and ensure the work activity is compliant
- Obtain, confirm, clarify and apply work instructions and agreed procedure
- Obtain, confirm, clarify and apply safety requirements
- Obtain and confirm authorisation (entry permit) meets regulatory requirements
- Confirm the emergency response procedure is with the stand-by person and understood
- Identify, obtain and implement signage and barrier requirements
- Select tools and equipment for the tasks, check for serviceability and rectify or report any faults
- Identify, confirm and apply the environmental protection requirements
- Position rescue equipment by the entry permit
Work in confined space
- Gain access to confined space
- Ensure that the atmosphere is tested and monitored for harmful elements
- Correctly apply tagging and lock-out procedures
- Enter the confined space correctly
- Maintain ongoing communication with the stand-by person
- Comply with entry permit requirements
- Monitor and adhere to allocated entry time
Exit confined space
- Exit confined space correctly
- Recover tools, equipment and materials
- Conduct inspection of the confined space
- Secure access to the confined space
- Remove tagging and lock-out
- Accurately complete confined space entry permit
- Clear work area and dispose of or recycle materials
- Clean, check, maintain and store tools and equipment
- Remove, clean and store barriers and signs