Welcome to the Confined Space Entry Training Blog
POST #1 – Welcome to the very first post on our brand-new Confined Space Entry Training Blog. As the name implies, this blog is dedicated to helping readers achieve a better understanding of the requirements of the Federal OSHA permit-required confined space entry standards. And not just a cursory understanding, but an in-depth understanding on a broad range of confined space-related topics. Areas covered in our blog will include, but not be limited to, OSHA’s requirements for employers’ confined space entry programs, confined space entry permits, identifying and controlling hazards present within confined spaces, and the selection and use of confined space entry equipment. We will also go in-depth into the OSHA confined space training requirements for all workers involved in permit-required confined space entry operations, including the entrants who actually go into the spaces, the attendants stationed outside the space, the entry supervisor in charge of entry operations, rescue and emergency medical personnel, and gas detection equipment operators.
Why did I decide to start this new blog related to confined space entry training? Because there continue to be fatalities and serious injuries suffered by workers involved in all phases of confined space entry work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries published in 2020 (the latest data available at the time of this post), 1,030 workers involved in confined space entry work died in the U.S. between 2011 to 2018. While this overall number represents a relatively small percentage of all workplace fatalities, not many people work in confined spaces, so the rate of fatalities among confined space workers is high. Surprisingly, 60% of confined space-related fatalities were would-be rescuers who rush unprepared into a confined space to assist a coworker, and they died.
The Risks of Confined Space Work
So, why is confined space work often so dangerous? Because being inside of a confining area can easily compound the severity of hazards in the space. You’re often working in close proximity to hazards, so they’re difficult to avoid. And, it’s harder to escape from inside the space should you become incapacitated. Also, because you’re often out of sight of coworkers, you’re often out of mind as well, and no one checks on you until it’s too late. A good confined space entry program addresses hazards in a systematic manner that strives to eliminate confined space hazards when possible, or minimize them to a safer level, through a series of steps that are documented on an entry permit.
By the way, my name is Curtis Chambers, and I am the author of this confined space training blog. I’m qualified to blog on this topic dues to my 35+ years of working as an occupational safety and health manager, corporate director, safety officer in a State OSHA Consultation program, and prolific trainer on numerous health and safety topics, including permit-required confined space entry. I’ve even developed comprehensive online confined space entry training courses for entrants, attendants, entry supervisors, and the competent person in construction and general industry operations. I’m also a board certified safety professional (CSP) since 1993, have a Master of Science degree in Occupational Health and Safety from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and am an OSHA-authorized Outreach trainer in both construction and general industry. I’ve also testified over 100 times as a recognized OSHA expert in legal matters related to, among other things, permit-required confined space related accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Of course, I am not so naive as to think I have seen it all or know it all when it comes to this topic. That is why our blog is set up to receive comments from readers, including some who will no doubt share a wealth of knowledge and experience in confined space entry work from which others can benefit. So, please feel free to participate in a dialogue with me and with each other if you have any questions, or if you have something of value (be aware that comments are held until moderated, to prevent anything spammy) to share on a post.
Last but not least, know that the purpose of this blog is not to provide legal advice, or replace the expertise of an on-site safety professional. Consult your safety manager, safety consultant, or other technically qualified person for guidance to ensure proper entry and emergency response/rescue procedures are in place, and that all necessary equipment is selected and in proper working order before conducting entry operations. Because ultimately, only the employer can decide, based upon his or her knowledge of, and experience with their permit spaces, what the best entry procedures, types of atmospheric testing instrument, ventilation system, and rescue procedure must be used for a specific entry operation.
Here’s to a productive and informative blog! – Curtis