When working in confined spaces, workers expose themselves to many dangers. However, most of the time, these people are not aware of said risks as well as the proper safety measures. This is where a confined space assessor comes in. In this article we will discuss who they are and everything you need to know about them.
What is a Confined Space?
A confined space is a space (vessel, tank, container, pit, bund, chamber, cellar or any other similar space by its enclosed nature) that gives rise to a likelihood of an accident, harm or injury of such a nature as to require emergency action due to the presence or reasonable foreseeable presence of:
- flammable or explosive atmospheres
- harmful gas, fume or vapour
- free flowing solid or an increasing level of liquid
- excess of oxygen
- excessively high temperature
In a confined space there is lack of or has reasonably foreseeable lack of oxygen and has limited openings for entry and exit. Said space is not intended for continuous human occupancy and is not large enough for a person to enter and conduct work.
What is the Purpose and Importance of a Confined Space Hazard Assessment?
Safety is the number one purpose for a confined space hazard assessment, as it is any company’s number one priority. A confined space safety assessor (CSSA) in Singapore makes sure that a space is safe enough for human employees to work in so as to prevent unnecessary accidents and keep employees safe. In addition, they perform assessments to spread awareness and educate employees on how to adapt to an incident may it arise. However, the range of how unsafe an environment is varies so it is important to assess beforehand.
When do you need to conduct a confined space hazard assessment?
Hazard identification and risk assessment / risk control measures are mandatory depending on the different regulations such as, Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations, Workplace Safety and Health (Confined Spaces) Regulations 2009, SS 568 – Code of practice for confined spaces. With that, we strongly recommend doing a confined space hazard assessment a few weeks, or even a few months in advance. In addition, conducting a confined space hazard assessment just before entry to ensure rigorous evaluation of all risks and the availability of all required equipment in a timely manner.
What are The Responsibilities of a Confined Space Assessor in Singapore?
A confined space safety assessor is a qualified professional who has gone through appropriate training. His top responsibility is to ensure safety in the workplace. There are also other different stakeholders for confined space work namely:
- Authorized entrant
- Confined space supervisor
- Rescue service crew
While each role has their own different roles and responsibilities, a confined space safety assessor generally needs to have a good understanding of hazards that they may encounter when working in a confined space. It is also important for these employees to have knowledge on how to use all equipment, tools, and devices such as air monitoring equipment and breathing apparatus. The method of communication with the attendant outside of the confined space is also vital to ensure everyone’s safety and a successful job done. Lastly, in the event of any unexpected hazards may arise, knowledge of exit and rescue processes are vital as well.
Diving into specifics however, we shall explore what each role’s unique responsibilities are.
An authorized entrant is an employee who is trained and authorized by their employer to enter a confined space. Apart from the general knowledge listed above, any authorized entrant must know when to immediately exit the confined space once given an evacuation order by the attendant or entry supervisor. These employees have the authority to stop work and request evacuation if they have detected an unsafe condition.
Stationed outside to monitor the authorized entrants and perform specific duties assigned in the written permit-required confined space program. The attendant must know what signs, symptoms or hazards that may be faced during entry and who the authorized entrants are, as well as how many are within the confined space at any time. Attendants must also know how to maintain communication with the entrants during the entry and how to initiate an emergency evacuation if the need rises. Despite being outside the confined space, attendants must still have basic knowledge on how to use the property equipment for continuous airflow and monitoring the atmosphere for any potential toxic or flammable conditions.
Similar to the authorized entrant, every attendant has the authority and responsibility to stop work and request evacuation if they have detected an unsafe condition. Lastly, the attendant must perform no duties that might interfere with their primary duty to monitor and protect the authorized entrants.
Confined space supervisor
Confined space supervisors are responsible for determining if there are acceptable entry conditions present at a confined space. They also authorize and oversee entry operations thus need to possess knowledge of the possible hazards that may occur during entry, including the signs or symptoms, and consequences. Entry supervisors must also make sure that all personnel have the appropriate training, education, and skills for their designated roles before executing a job.
Confined space supervisors must also follow the permit at all times. From ensuring that the appropriate entries have been made, all tests are specified and have been conducted by the permit. Most of all, the procedures and equipment specified are in place before signing the permit. Once all of these are checked, entry to begin is allowed.
Preparing proper rescue procedures, equipment, or services beforehand is also another vital responsibility of an entry supervisor. Along with this, they also have the authority to remove unauthorized individuals who enter or attempt to enter the permit space during entry operations. With that, they can terminate the entry and cancel the permit if necessary.
Rescue service employees are self explanatory. These are the individuals designated to rescue employees from confined spaces from any danger. A procedure for obtaining emergency rescue must be established before beginning an entry into a confined space, and it is their job to know it wholeheartedly. Rescue service conducts this with the proper equipment and a system, all without having to go into the confined space. However, this highly depends on the configuration of the space.
When designating a trained rescue service crew, it’s important to consider if they can conduct a rescue within the appropriate time frame and considering the identified space hazard(s). In addition, they must also evaluate if the victim(s) possess the necessary skills with rescue-related tasks and equipment.
What are some hazards to look out for by a confined space assessor in Singapore?
Working in a confined space is dangerous for many reasons. There can be many risks that can be fatal, depending on the type of environment. These risks range from noxious fumes, reduced oxygen levels, to a risk of fire. Other dangers may include flooding/drowning or asphyxiation from sources such as dust, grain or other contaminants.
How to Conduct a Confined Space Assessment?
Now that we understand the importance of a confined space assessment according to the permit to work system, we will discuss how to conduct one. A confined space assessment has little to no margin of error, as the safety and lives of employees are on the line. Each confined space brings a range of unsafe situations, from mildly dangerous to life threatening.
Before anything else, it is vital to prepare all the important documents beforehand. The following documents are needed to cover all necessary fields to identify major hazards found in confined spaces:
- Confined space identification
- Management of the possible construction work inside
- Opening characteristics
- Evaluation of current and potential risks
- Procedures to implement according to the risks
- Required safety equipment
- Rescue plan and emergency situations
With that, what are the standards or criteria for a confined space to be deemed safe enough for work? Firstly, the space must be large enough to bodily enter and perform assigned work. If entry alone is already almost impossible, then that should be a telltale sign that the confined space isn’t safe work. If entry is possible, a confined space safety assessor must identify if it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit. Some examples of spaces that fit this criteria are tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits. With that, they must then determine if the confined space is designed for continuous or multiple entry and employee occupancy.
How can a confined space safety assessor prevent accidents in Singapore?
Knowing how to conduct a confined space safety assessment is important, but only gets half the job done. It is also vital to know how to prevent confined space accidents alongside this.
First and foremost, prevention is key with a qualified professional by your side. With that, hiring a qualified confined space safety assessor in Singapore to conduct safe and efficient confined space assessments for you already equips your team the advantage to staying safe and comply with the regulations.
Advance Safe offers a variety of services in Singapore. Backed by our network of registered and trained safety and health consultants, we make sure to study your work environment. Therefore, we can ensure compliance with local regulations namely MOM, NEA, SCDF, and LTA. Along with this, we will identify sources of risk and potential hazards, and apply suitable control strategies accordingly.
We provide the following list of services:
- WSH Officer (WSHO)
- Workplace Safety and Health Coordinator (WSHC)
- WSH Risk Management and Assessment Consultant
- bizSAFE certification
- ISO 45001
- Environmental Control Officer (ECO)
- Fire Safety Manager (FSM)
- Confined Space Assessor service
- Traffic Safety Equipment and PPEs
How can a confined space assessor in Singapore prevent hazards?
Along with the aid of a hired right professional, it is also important to ensure the control of all forms of hazard. Firstly, the assessor must remove any liquids or free-flowing solids from the confined space. It is to eliminate the risk of drowning or suffocation. We should physically disconnect all pipes or have isolation blanks bolted in place. This is important as closing valves is not sufficient enough.
With that, one must remember to use two blocking valves, with an open vent or bleed valve between each, when isolating pipelines or similar conveyances. This prevents entry of any hazardous contaminants and other materials. A barrier must also be present to prevent any liquids or free-flowing solids from entering the confined space. Lastly, the opening for entry into and exit from the confined space must be large enough. Therefore it will allow the passage of a person using protective equipment.
Keep your employees safe in confined spaces with Advance Safe
Ensuring safety in all workplaces is paramount, especially in an environment where workers expose themselves to fatal risks such as those faced while working in confined spaces. With Advance Safe, we guarantee the proper necessary training and equipment to safeguard your employees. Get in touch with us today or call us at (+65) 6252 4456!