Blog - The Raven Speaks

The Confined Space Machine

“But we’ve been entering it for 30 years!” The site manager is shaking his head. “Unbelievable.”

We stare at the entrance to the crawl space in question, mulling over our options.

The news is the same, no matter who you are. Whether you’re in construction, agriculture, food and beverage processing, municipal management, oil and gas, or manufacturing, your confined spaces need to be properly managed.

In the last few decades, more resources have been created to help demystify confined space management.  Workers and employers alike have access to more resources than ever to educate themselves.  But the fact remains that confined space is one of the most heavily legislated work environments, and that it takes a focused approach to learn how to meet the range of requirments. Ultimately, everyone wants to know – what’s the bottom line?  What is managing my confined spaces going to cost me?  How is this going to affect my day-to-day?

One thing is for sure – the day-to-day use of this crawl space is going to have to change.  A pile of boxes sits immediately inside the entrance to the crawl space.  Workers are used to popping into the space whenever they need to get something out of one of the boxes, including Christmas decorations.  The holidays are right around the corner.  Determining new storage solutions has to be part of the conversation, if there’s going to be a tree in the lobby this year.

 

A Well-Oiled Machine

Every confined space is a unique combination of configuration, tasks and personnel.  Today’s resources serve as a collection of tools that can be applied as needed to keep your unique combination running smoothly.  There are experts who can take a look at your situation, and can apply the right tools to the right extent.  This is the role Raven Rescue serves for our confined space clients. Think of us as your confined space mechanics.  Not only can we build you a machine, but we can keep it in great running condition.

Just like wheels, axles, and engines are fundamental to what makes a car a car, there are certain components that are fundamental to a well-managed Confined Space Program.  Here’s a basic list that you can tackle all at once, or one at a time:

  • An inventory of your spaces
  • Hazard Assessments
  • Safe Work Procedures
  • Rescue Plans
  • Required training
  • Equipment
  • PPE

Taken together, these components form the bulk of a Confined Space Entry Program.

Maintaining Your Machine

When it’s printed and sitting beside your pencil cup, your complete Confined Space Entry Program will fill out a 3” binder quite nicely.

And unless you take active steps, that’s all it will do - plus gather dust - until it’s out of date.  How often do you need to crack that binder?  At the very least, an annual review should be conducted.  You also need to revisit your program every time something changes.  Here are some examples of changes that warrent a review:

1. A new space is discovered or built on your site.

2. Your OHS department updates company-wide work procedures, like LOTO, or tail-gate safety meetings.

3. The mandate of your workers changes.

4. You get new equipment for confined space work.

Raven Rescue can assist you each time something at your workplace changes, to ensure that the ripple effect of that change makes its way smoothly throughout your Confined Space Entry Program.

 

Time To Call Your Mechanic

We’re sitting with the site manager in his office.  The Hazard Assessment is done, and we’re all facing the fact that he’s got a confined space on his hands. It’s a complicated one, with multiple chambers, lots of piping and distribution systems, and – just for fun – a boiler that demands regular repairs, tucked in the furthest, tightest corner.  On top of it all, it’s in a facility that’s federally legislated, and since federal legislation doesn’t feature any exclusion criteria (like WorkSafe BC), this is one crawl space that’s getting the full confined space treatment.

“But we’ve got some options,” we say to the site manager. “The first thing we want to explore is seeing what it would take to reverse engineer this space, so it doesn’t have to be added to your program permanently.  Let’s talk with your engineer.”

 

So what exactly does your confined space machine need right now to be well-maintained?

We’re here to answer that question. It’s time to call your mechanic - we're ready to learn who you are, what you do, and what you’re dealing with, so that we can get your Confined Space Program on the road.

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Iain MacInnis, Firefighter/Paramedic

As a career Firefighter/Paramedic, I attend various training and continuing education courses often. Both Ron and Garth stand out not only as experts in their field, but exceptional adult educators as well. They did an excellent job on my SRT1 course presenting the material while gauging the needs of the class.

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