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Monitoring Atmospheric Hazards – INFOGRAPHIC

Janet Cornett July 29, 2018 0

A guide for monitoring atmospheric hazards in confined spaces. Confined spaces expose entrants to a variety of atmospheric hazards. These include: Acute Illness, Death, Entrapment, Severe Injury


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What is a confined space?

A confined space, according to OSHA, is any space which:

  • Is large enough for a person to enter, and perform work.
  • Is not designed for permanent human occupancy.
  • Has limited or restricted means for entry and/or exit.

Examples of confined spaces include:

Agriculture Silos | Grain Elevators | Fuel Tanks | Storage Tanks | Tunnels | Underground Vaults

* Entry into confined spaces is part of the daily routine for most workers with industrial jobs.

Types of Atmospheric Hazards

  • Atmospheric oxygen concentration:
    • Oxygen deficiency – below 19.5%
    • Oxygen enrichment – above 23.5%
  • Combustible gases
  • Toxic gases

The air inside a confined space must be tested before employees are allowed to enter.

* Atmospheric testing to evaluate whether or not acceptable conditions for entry exist within a confined space, and for the evaluation of any hazards present.

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The recommended order for testing confined spaces for atmospheric hazards is:

Oxygen: Proper oxygen levels must be present.

Combustible Gases: No combustible gases must be present.

Toxic Gases: Any toxic gases present inside the confined space – commonly carbon monoxide [CO] and hydrogen sulfide [H2S] – should be below OSHA permissible exposure limits.

* Samples should be taken at the top, middle, and bottom of a confined space to properly check for varying concentrations of different gases and vapors.

  • Confined spaces should be tested routinely to ensure that atmospheric conditions remain safe for entry.
  • All testing should be conducted using equipment specifically designed to detect chemicals, gases, and vapors which may be present at levels below defined exposure limits.
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