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  • Writer's pictureAdvantage Worldwide

Warning: Dangers of Enclosed Spaces

Are you operating safely? It has come to light that supply chain workers may not readily recognise spaces that could present danger, and many lives are lost each year due to a lack of awareness.

supply chain warning
Assessing the need to work in any given confined space is a basic starting point

Mike Yarwood, TT Club, has warned the industry of the dangers of confined and enclosed spaces across the container supply chain.

“Tragedies can, and do, result from the obscure risks in confined and enclosed spaces across the container supply chain – and the carriage of dangerous chemicals, with associated toxic gases, naturally heightens these risks.” Mike warns.

“There are innumerable spaces found through the global supply chain that should be considered enclosed or confined, some more obvious than others. They include limited openings for entry and exit to/from a confined area, a space with inadequate ventilation and one not specifically designed for continuous worker occupancy,” he says.

“Unfortunately, these spaces claim many lives each year when ill-prepared workers enter them”

Mike warns: “The key risk is that workers may not readily recognise spaces that could present danger. In the context of hazardous chemical transportation unitised cargo equipment, and in particular tank containers, form the main focus of these risks. Although there might well be a heightened awareness of danger by those involved in transporting these units as opposed to regular dry containers, incidents do unfortunately occur.”

Risk mitigation strategies

TT offers the following risk mitigation strategies, applicable to both tank container operations and most other enclosed space situations within the global supply chain:

  • Always assume that confined spaces are unsafe

  • Create awareness of the risks and continually invest in staff training

  • Procedures need to be robust but not overly burdensome or complex, in order to impede a tendency for short cuts

  • Embody a culture where time and resource are fully aligned to safety, regardless how minor the immediate task

  • If entry is unavoidable, undertake a risk assessment to ensure that there is a safe system of work

  • Where possible, ventilate the area before entry. Use breathing apparatus if the air inside the space cannot be made fit to breathe

  • Test the air before entry; monitor it and the workers during the procedure, deploying a watcher who is physically present

  • Ensure that people inside the space can communicate with those outside

  • Restrict access to authorised personnel by, for example implementing a permit system

  • Ensure that the workers selected are competent and physically able to do the task

  • Perform emergency rescue drills, providing practice in the process of safely removing an injured or unconscious person

Find out more

Download the full advisory document here: StopLoss: confined spaces

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