Safer Times: The Good Day's Work Blog

Farm Safety Training In-Depth: Keeping Confined Spaces Workers Safe

Posted by Good Day's Work on Feb 21, 2017
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Chances are good your agriculture operation has buildings or structures that are considered to be confined spaces. OSHA defines a confined space as: large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work; not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee; and has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit. In practical terms this typically includes structures such as manure pits, silos, grain bins, and fertilizer tanks, among others. In most cases these structures are also considered to be permit-required confined spaces.


Written Programs

Because of the potential hazards found in permit-required confined spaces, OSHA requires that employers develop a written program for each space before employees are allowed work in one. The written program must include the following information:

  1. Controlling Hazards. The program should establish the means, procedures, and practices to eliminate or control hazards necessary for safe operations.
  2. Equipment for safe entry. The program should detail the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other specialized equipment required for working in the space.
  3. Detection of hazardous conditions. Procedures must be established for detecting and monitoring hazardous condition in the space, as well as procedures for restricting access to the space while such conditions exist.
  4. Informing Contract Employees. Employees must be informed prior to entry of the entry requirements, identified hazards, and precautions and procedures for operating in the space.
  5. Entry Permits are required to be posted at entrances to confined spaces outlining the pre-entry preparations that must be completed.
  6. Worker Training. Employees are required to be trained prior to working in permit-required confined spaces.
  7. Assigned Duties include those expected by the authorized entrant, the attendant, and the entry supervisor.
  8. The written program has to include procedures for managing emergency situations, including contacting rescue service personnel, the use of harnesses and retrieval lines, and using Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

Confined spaces can be dangerous, with proper preparation and training, you can significantly reduce the risk and make ag operations much safer places to work.

Topics: confined spaces, agriculture

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