Posted: 31 Aug '17

How the Implementation of Confined Space Ventilation Minimizes Hazards

Confined Space Ventilation

On the morning of January 10, 2003, workers in a British Columbia shipyard removed manhole covers from two compartments of a 342 foot long barge. A short time later one worker went down the ladder into one of those compartments. When he didn’t show up for coffee, another worker went looking for him. We will never know exactly what he thought when he saw his friend at the bottom of the ladder, because he went down the ladder. We do know they both died at the bottom of the ladder, as did another worker who went down intending to rescue them.

A fourth worker went down and collapsed. He was rescued by firefighters and made it to hospital, where he died a few days later.

An investigation found that seawater had made its way into the barge, and contributed to corrosion. Corrosion of steel is a reaction between oxygen and iron, the oxygen came from the air in the barge. Over the time that the corrosion was happening much of the oxygen in the compartment combined with the iron to make rust. There was not enough oxygen left in the air to support human life.

How Using Particle Filtration could have prevented this

The investigation concluded that a failure to provide confined space ventilation was a key cause of the four deaths in this case. The space was large, a volume of approximately 25,000 cubic feet. To make it safe to enter required a confined space ventilation system that would mix outdoor air throughout the space and provide several air changes. A properly selected confined space ventilation system would have supplied enough air into the space to give at least 5 air changes before anyone entered.

Testing the air in the compartment before and after ventilating would have indicated the severity of the hazard and whether the confined space ventilation system had controlled it.

Many work activities can quickly change the atmosphere in a confined space from safe to dangerous. When planning work in a confined space it is essential that those organizing the confined space ventilation system understand the nature of the work to be done. Smogbuster experts can evaluate the hazards present and provide a confined space ventilation system that will control them.