2013-09-23 20:33:08 -
Like anything else, safety costs money. Although it is the number one concern on any job in any field, ensuring that a job site is safe for both the workers during the job and for the owners after the job is completed still costs money, and unfortunately contractors do not have endless budgets to devote to safety. Because of this, it is important that what steps the budget will allow the contractor to take are ones that count the most to create a safe environment for the workers.
Confined space painting is a niche in the coating and painting field that is often associated with hazardous work environments. OSHA, which as many readers are very aware is the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, the government organization that oversees workplace safety, has a set definition for confined spaces. A space with minimal entry and exit points, which is big enough to allow a worker to enter the space and work but is not made to allow for sustained occupancy is considered to be a confined space as per OSHA regulations. Below ground painting, work on ground storage water tanks, and tank sandblasting and painting are great examples of jobs that would have a contractor working in a confined space, as it is easy to see that these environments have enough room for the contractor to operate, but neither are obviously meant to sustain living occupants for any extended periods of time.
In order to effectively combat the hazards found in these confined space work sites, the first step would be to perform a job hazard analysis to determine what the specific dangers of the particular site are going to be and begin to formulate a plan to work with or around them, keeping workers safe. When evaluating the possible hazards that will be encountered on the job sites, it is also crucial that work being done on the job site by other contractors is also taken into consideration. For example, proper ventilation of one job site may not only be ineffective but in fact dangerous if the dangerous fumes or dust is blown right into the work space of another contractor working close by in another area of the job site. Communication between all contractors and safety elevators is key to ensuring all workers are safe without compromising others. To ensure that all standards are met, a permit for confined space work which takes into account many things, including whether or not the space will be entered and by who and when, known hazards, potential hazards, etc. In fact, when a permit is required to contract in confined space work environments such as tank cleaning, an attendant, in this case a tank attendant, is required to be present to ensure only those who are authorized to enter the space can enter, as well as perform other duties according to the specific job permit.
Because of all the work that goes into ensuring a safe work environment, evaluating job site hazards, communicating between contractors and ensuring regulations are met to permitted standards, confined work spaces not meant for occupation by people are still made into safe work environments for short periods of time. It is crucial, however, that the contractor you choose is both experienced and knowledgable, that can meet and exceed OSHA standards for both safety and liability reasons. Readers on the east coast in NJ, NY, PA or CT in need of further information about proper confined space working procedures can consult a local contractor such as Alpine Painting, online or at 866-596-0349.
By Dave Scaturro, Sales Director for Alpine Painting.
Credit to: Hough, Kyle, and Duane Hough. "Thinking Outside The Box." Paint Square. Jul 2013: 38-53. Print.