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Safety Data Sheet Management: Know About Working in Confined Spaces

Confined spaces refers to largely enclosed areas or spaces not designed for people, where workers can enter and perform certain jobs. There are restricted and limited entrance or exit areas in confined spaces, with high risk to workers of explosion, fire, asphyxiation, loss of consciousness or drowning. Confined spaces may include pits, tunnels, duct work, equipment housings, manholes, tanks, vessels, storage bins, silos, vaults, hoppers, and pipelines. OSHA defines “permit-required confined space” as a confined space that has one or more of the characteristics: containing potential hazardous materials and atmosphere, containing material with potential to entrant or engulf, has floors that sloping downward or inward or walls converging inwards, areas that can asphyxiate or trap an entrant, and areas with other health hazard such as exposed wires, heat stress, and unguarded machinery.

In a confined space, the possible hazards may include confined spaces include toxic atmosphere, oxygen deficiency, oxygen enrichment, flammable or explosive atmospheres, flowing liquid or free-flowing solids, and excessive heat. A toxic atmosphere produces toxic substances because of disturbance of sludge or other deposits, leftovers from previous storage or processing, presence of flames or fire within the space, seepage from improperly isolated plant, or formation during work operation that are carried out in space. A toxic atmosphere causes acute and chronic effects on health, as well as unconsciousness, impairment of judgement and death. Lack of oxygen is caused by chemical reactions, displacement of gas in the air, and steel surfaces absorbing air especially for damp areas. On the other hand, oxygen enrichment or presence of excessive amount of oxygen is caused by combustible materials, resulting in increased risk of fire or explosion. A flammable atmosphere may cause explosion, which results in hot gas expulsion and structure disintegration. The presence of free-flowing liquids may cause suffocation, drowning, burns and other injuries, while free-flowing solids in powder can be distributed in a confined space causing asphyxiation.

It is important to consider the following elements to be able to draw a safe system of work operations in a confined space which include proper training, competence, supervision and suitability, permit-to-work procedure, gas purging and ventilation, dangerous residues, respiratory protective equipment, mechanical, electrical and process isolation, monitoring and testing of the atmosphere, safe use of equipment, communications, access and egress, explosive or flammable atmospheres and presence of combustible materials. It is important that jobs concerning confined spaces should be able to submit a safety Data Sheet (SDS) which is an important document that contains information about the potential fire, reactivity, environmental and health hazards, and how to be able to work safely with the chemical product to their health and safety authority. Safety Data Sheet contains detailed information on the use, handling, storage and emergency procedures which are relevant to the hazards of a specific material, in order to have focal point for development of complete program to prevent health and safety issues.The 5 Laws of Options And How Learn More

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