QUICK TIPS: CONFINED SPACE SAFETY - EH: Minnesota Department of Health


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Confined space danger

Floods may create dangerous conditions in buildings called confined spaces. For example, water damaged and hazardous materials left behind may make the air in a basement or enclosed room hazardous. Also building damage may block entry and exits or expose other dangers.

A confined space is anywhere that:
  • Has few openings in or out;
  • Has poor air flow so contaminants may build up; or
  • Could collapse or trap someone inside.

Examples of confined spaces include: storage tanks, pits, ducts, sewers, tunnels, underground utility vaults, pipelines and others.

Use care in any confined space

Do these things if you have to enter any confined space:
  • Make sure the building is safe from collapse;
  • Make sure utilities (electricity, gas, and water) are shut off;
  • Make sure outdoor air is flowing into the space;
  • Have a way to signal for help; and
  • Exit immediately if any unsafe conditions develop.

Contaminated air

  • You cannot trust your senses to identify all hazards in a confined space.

  • You may not be able to see or smell many contaminants in the air.

  • You cannot tell if there is enough oxygen for you to breathe.

  • If dangerous conditions (airborne contaminants or low oxygen) could be present, special equipment is needed to determine if the air is safe.

If in doubt, do not enter

Never enter a confined space unless you are sure it is safe.

Do not enter a confined space to rescue others unless you are trained for emergency rescue and have the tools and equipment for the job. Otherwise, you could become the next victim!

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Updated Monday, March 30, 2015 at 01:28PM