Working in a small space can present a number of dangers to workers, the most common being atmospheric hazards that pose severe risks to health. These hazards include a lack of oxygen, excessive levels of oxygen, toxic contaminants, and high levels of explosive substances. To prevent these hazards from potentially causing injury, you will need access to a confined space monitor.
These monitors are designed to measure the levels of gases and other potentially dangerous substances in the small space, alarming when excessive levels are detected. Some of the substances monitored include:
Oxygen: An atmosphere is deemed oxygen-deficient when there is less than 19.5% oxygen available. Conversely, an atmosphere deemed oxygen-enriched is one with more than 23.5% oxygen available.
Flammable Gases: There are a number of flammable gases that may be present in a confined area, such as methane. If the gas is present at a level that is 10% above the lower explosive limit (LEL) the space is deemed unsafe for human entry until it has been ventilated.
Toxic Gases: Chemical spills and even decomposition can produce a number of toxic gases and vapours that could be potentially dangerous if their levels exceed those deemed safe by Occupational Health & Safety regulations.
Before entering a small area, especially one that is difficult to get out of quickly, it is of the utmost importance that you test the area using a confined space monitor to ensure that it is safe. If the results are above or below those that are deemed okay for entry, you will need to wait until the space has been ventilated or wear a respiratory apparatus.