June 2012 Newsletter | Read Current Issue »
Feel like you're in a tight spot? It could be a confined space!
In this competitive business climate it is important to keep informed on the latest buzz in industry. At Health Science Associates we want to stay ahead of the pack, constantly expanding and honing our skills. As a client or associate, we want you with us, a step ahead of the rest. If there is a topic you're interested in, let us know and we can include it in our next newsletter!
Seems like we have been hearing a lot about confined spaces lately. Why is this old issue getting all of this attention? In 2011, California had 7 fatalities that could be attributed to working in a confined space. In contrast, 2009 and 2010 had only 2 confined space fatalities each year. With such a dramatic increase, Cal/OSHA has made confined spaces a priority this year. Their statewide Confined Space Special Emphasis Initiative is three pronged, education, enforcement, consultation.
Education is the key to being prepared. Identifying, categorizing and cataloging your confined spaces is the first step. Formulating Plans to control those spaces is next. Finally training your employees on those plans and keeping meticulous records is essential. There are lots of tools on line to help you with that process. If you are in California, Cal OSHA has a summary web page to help, What is a Confined Space?, and there is always the regulation to read, Title 8, Section 5157, which says, a confined space is large enough and configured such that an human can bodily enter and perform work, has limited openings for entry and exit and is not designed for continuous human occupancy. A permit required confined space is a little more complicated, it has all of the above, plus at least one of the following:
- Has a hazardous atmosphere - or the potential for a hazardous atmosphere - including too little or too much oxygen, and/or the presence of toxic or explosive gases or vapors (such as hydrogen sulfide or methane).
- Has a material that can - or potentially will - engulf an employee, such as grain, sand or sugar.
- Has an internal configuration (such as floors that slope downwards) that can - or potentially will - trap or asphyxiate employees.
- Has any other recognized serious safety or health hazard, such as machinery with moving parts, sources of electrical shocks, steam (burn hazard), or liquids (drowning and fire hazards).
Construction, agriculture, marine terminals, telecommunications, grain handling, natural gas and electric utilities have a slightly different definition, which can be found in Title 8, Section 5158. Their confined spaces have both of these characteristic:
- Existing ventilation that is not sufficient to remove dangerous air contamination, too little oxygen or too much oxygen which either exists or may develop. Dangerous air contamination is an atmosphere that presents a threat of causing death, injury, acute illness, or disablement due to the presence of flammable and/or explosive, toxic, or otherwise injurious or incapacitating substances.
- Access for the removal for a suddenly disabled employee is difficult due to the location and/or size of the openings.
There are some great sites full of information available for free. On the Cal/OSHA website a great booklet is available, Is It Safe to Enter a Confined Space, which covers the basics of confined spaces and relates some great facts about rescue procedures. Additionally, Federal OSHA has quite a few Fact Sheets that address specific confined space situations and evaluations.
As part of their outreach, Cal OSHA is offering some free 2 hour long classes in the San Bernardino area, and have posted a webinar for all to access. If you are looking for some relevant examples to share with your workers, the NIOSH Confined Space website has Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program investigations available for review. Almost every industry has a real fatality example listed there.
The most important thing is to act. Evaluate your work place to confirm whether or not you need a program, review your existing programs for completeness and confirm compliance with that program. Communicate to your employees the importance of compliance through documented training. Finally, it is imperative to practice and prepare for the possibility that systems can fail and an emergency will occur. Four minutes without oxygen may result in brain damage or death. That is not enough time to come up with a plan, or find the equipment. It could be the difference between life and death, not only for the victim but the rescuer that valiantly rushes in unprepared.
This can be a daunting task, with lives at stake you may want a professional such as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) or Certified Safety Professional (CSP), to help prepare your programs or review your systems with a fresh pair of eyes. Familiarity sometimes breeds blindness to issues that may arise. We would be happy to provide that service if you need a hand.
We are proud to announce that we have a new addition to our staff. Lucas Wallin joined us this month. Lucas is a CSST and a CDPH Lead Inspector Assessor. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science. We are excited about adding his varied experience to our well trained staff.
Our Vice President, Joel Berman, will be representing us at the National AIHce in Indianapolis next week. Not only will he be keeping us current on Industrial Hygiene issues, but he will be networking with several potential partners. Let us know if you would like to get together! HSA will be at the SAME Camp Pendelton Day event on June 21st and NEHA AEC in San Diego June 28-29th. Let us know if you would like to have a cup of coffee.
We have just embarked on one of our most interesting projects yet. Russell Clay, one of our seasoned Lead and Asbestos professionals will be the Environmental Monitor on a remote Island in Washington State for three months. The island has no hotels, grocery stores or post offices and is not routinely serviced by ferry. Russell will watch Orcas swim by as he manages this unique project.
HSA is proud to continue to host classes in our Orange county training facility offered by the Continuing Education and Outreach Office of the Southern California NIOSH Education and Research Center at UCLA. We are excited about offering the Health and Safety community an Orange county location for these valuable courses given by the ERC's highly qualified staff. For more information see the training page on our website or go directly to the COEH website to register.
Our Vice President, Joel I. Berman, CAC, CIH, CIAQM will be presenting "Commercial and Residential Odor Investigations - How to plan and implement a successful odor investigation"- at the IAQA Chapter Workshop on July 19th. Find out more about this Workshop
We will be offering our AIHA reviewed NIOSH 582 course at the end of August, 2012, for details check our training calendar, the link is below.
We continue to provide a variety of training courses for the professionals in California, ask about our new Hazwoper course offering.