Key Safety Guidelines for Working in Confined Spaces

“Safety First, Always First.”

Utilizing proper safety guidelines while working in or around confined spaces on a jobsite is imperative to protecting our employees and clients.

OSHA defines a confined space as any place on a jobsite that has limited means of entry and/or exit, is large enough for a worker to enter it and is not intended for regular/continuous occupancy.

There are two types of confined spaces – non-permit-required and permit-required. A non-permit-required confined space does not contain atmospheric hazards or have the potential to contain any hazard capable of causing death or serious physical harm.

OSHA defines a permit-required space as having one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant
  • Has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area that could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
  • Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires or heat stress

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 136 workers were killed in incidents associated with confined spaces in 2015.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees, clients, partners and the general public,” says Jamie Absher, Safety Specialist at TP Mechanical. “By doing things like participating in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and partnering with safety experts, we put ourselves in a position to prevent injuries like those that can be caused by working in confined spaces.”

Some of the key OSHA guidelines involving confined spaces:

  • Evaluate the workplace and clearly identify any permit-required confined spaces with the proper signage
  • Test atmospheric conditions before entry and purge, make inert, flush and/or continuously ventilate the permit space as necessary to eliminate or control atmospheric hazards
  • Provide, maintain and require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – including self-contained breathing apparatus and personal fall protection when appropriate – and any other equipment necessary for safe entry

For full guidelines, please refer to the OSHA Confined Space Standard, CFR 1910.146.

To learn more about our commitment to workplace health and safety, visit tpmechanical.com/about-tp/safety.

Safety: Ladders & Stairways

There are some hazards on the job site that seem obvious and some that need a little more attention from workers.

While the importance of ladder safety is communicated heavily at job sites, there are some workers and managers who unknowingly neglect to speak about the dangers of stairways.

According to OSHA, there are more than 24,000 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls on stairways and ladders used in construction.

The good news is that many of the accidents around ladders and stairways are preventable when the proper measures are taken prior to starting a job.

With Ladders

  • Use the correct ladder for the task
  • Never load ladders beyond the manufacturer’s rated capacity
  • Ensure that metal ladders are kept way from electrical work and overhead power lines
  • Have a worker partner inspect for any defects
  • Look for structural damage, grease or other slippery contaminant

With Stairways

  • Stairways must be free of dangerous objects, debris and materials
  • Cover stairs with threads to avoid a slippery surface
  • Stairways with four or more risers or that rise more than 30 inches need to have a least one handrail
  • Stair handrails must be free of hazards like splinters and nails

Heat Protection on the Job

Heat spells ‘hazard on the job’ for workers in the summertime. With the warmer weather moving into our area, the risks for heat-related illnesses increase, especially for workers exposed to humid conditions while wearing bulky protective clothing.

So, how do you stay cool during the warmest months of the year? Would you know the signs if heat exhaustion suddenly hit?

Hydration is Key

The absolute best way to avoid the threat of heat-related illness while working is to stay hydrated. Water is still the go-to drink in extreme heat. As for the amount of water that you will need to stay hydrated, new research suggests we should go beyond the traditional 8 glasses per day rule. Recent studies are saying that on average, adult males need about 3.7 liters of fluids per day (nearly 16 cups), while ladies need roughly 2.7 liters (or 11 cups) per day.

5 nutrition textures (fruits and vegetables isolated on white)There are other food options for helping you stay hydrated, including:

  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Sports drinks
  • Smoothies

What to Wear?

OHSA advises workers to wear light, loose-fitting clothing while working in extreme heat. Tightly-woven clothing works best for blocking out light, and the fabric should contain as much cotton as possible.

You should also be wearing sunscreen to block harmful sun rays. A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 blocks 93 percent of UV rays.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for extreme temperatures can include a vented hard hat with UV protection, reflective clothing, body-cooling vests, and water-cooled garments. Workers should also be aware that some equipment can actually increase the risk of heat stress.

Knowing the Signs

Signs of heat exhaustion include disorientation, stumbling, slurred speech and unresponsiveness.

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heat rash
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Severe thirst

 

TP Mechanical puts Safety First, Always First. Read more about TP Mechanical’s commitment to Safety.

Safety first. We don’t just say it, we live it.

At TP Mechanical, from CEOs to project managers, from site supervisors to office staff, every TP Mechanical team member devotes time, energy and heart to our company’s promise to send everyone home to their families every single night. We do this by going above and beyond the standard requirements to create not just a safety program, but a safety culture.

While our track record speaks for itself, the thing that truly sets us apart within the industry is our Experience Modification Rate (EMR). The EMR is computed by comparing a company’s annual losses in insurance claims against its policy premiums over a three-year period. The industry standard hovers around an EMR of 1.0. So where does TP Mechanical rate on this scale?

Glad you asked… TP Mechanical boasts an EMR rating of 0.56. By truly committing our operation to safety protocols, our clients enjoy substantial financial savings when it comes to insurance-related costs. It’s like car insurance – safer drivers who have fewer accidents pay less. Through our team member’s combined efforts in job safety, they aren’t just saving TP Mechanical money; they are actively involved in helping the company make money.

“Twenty percent of workers’ compensation claims account for eighty percent of what insurance companies pay out,” states Larry Melocik of Melocik & Company, a workers’ compensation consultant. As a self-insured company, TP Mechanical has to ensure that everyone is on-board.

We are proud of our employees for ingraining TP Mechanical’s first core value of “Safety First, Always First.” Our employees have earned a number of awards for their efforts, including:

  • AGC Safety Award | State of Ohio Specialty Division for Contractors working 500,001 – 700,000 Hours Annually
  • AGC National 2nd place Award in the Special Division
  • BX Ohio Safety Achievement Award
  • OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP)
  • TP Mechanical surpassed 2.8 million man hours worked without a lost-time accident, as of November 29, 2013