Today is National Lifeguard Day

Yes July 7th is National Lifeguard Day and you are probably wondering why it is in a confined space blog.  Well if you think about it an Attendant is very much like a lifeguard at a swimming pool. A lifeguard can look after the safety a certain number of people under specific conditions. A Confined Space Attendant also looks out for the safety of those people he is watching in a confined space.

One question I am asked on a regular bases, is how many Attendants do you need?  If you follow the Lifeguard analogy, based on Standards set by the Lifesaving Society, one Attendant could look after up to thirty workers (all of which must be in view). Exceptions to the one Attendant to 30 workers rule could be:
a. When workers are out of sight, one Attendant can look after about eight workers, but they must be within voice communication distance. Use of a CCTV and duplex communication devices that can send and receive simultaneously can extend the distance the entrants are away from the guard. However the distance away should not complicate rescue (eg. IDLH situations require a three to four minute intervention time – see point “c” below).
b. If workers are in multiple spaces, looking after up to four entrants in up to two spaces providing all are visible is probably the maximum for one Attendant. Again using CCTV and duplex communication device is required in areas that the Entrants are out of view.Confined space attendant
c. If the hazards can create an immediate life threatening injury (eg. Respiratory arrest), we limit the number of entrants to two in one space and the Attendant fulfills the Rescuer position. A relief attendant who is to take over if a rescue is needed must be no more than one minute away from the space.

Many people confuse the number of Attendants with the number of Rescuers that could be required in some circumstances.  But remember, the Attendant initiates the Rescue Plan, not does it all by themselves.

So today, visit a swimming pool, thank a lifeguard for their service, watch what he does and the training they have.  According to The LIfesaving Society you need 65 to 75 hours of training to become a Lifeguard.  This process could help you with your confined space program.  Just a thought.

Hey, What Does This Mean?

Last week I ran into a contractor who was repairing concrete using a 2 part epoxy in a water reservoir. He had a traditional 4 gas monitor operating inside and was wearing particulate respirators for the dust (silica) hazard. However nothing was protecting the workers from the ethylene glycol, one of the main components in both parts of the epoxy. The lack of knowledge (both the supervisor and the Attendant) regarding the ethylene glycol translated into no protection from the acid gases released during the mixing and curing process.

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Hazard Controls GTA

Hazard Controls

The terms “unsafe” has come up a few times in the last few weeks and I’d like to take the opportunity to speak to this. When someone says they believe a situation is “unsafe and wants to shutdown the job”, I become very nervous. I’m nervous because I’m hearing (right or wrong) “you’re afraid”. I can understand the fear. You may have never seen the job before or you may not agree with the safeguards being taken. Fear is OK. However, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that competent people plan and organize the work as well as acquaint you with the hazards and the controls. So, my questions are, did we get the right people planning and organizing the job? Secondly, did they do their job?

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