Workers who need to enter a confined space as part of their offshore cleaning must be properly trained on entry procedures and equipment usage. This can be highly dangerous work, so all workers performing it must be thoroughly prepared for what they will encounter and trained in all safety regulations for the job.
Confined spaces for our purposes are defined as being any type of space that is large enough to allow a person to enter and perform their assigned work, but has limited means of entry and exit and is not designed for long-term or continuous occupancy. Entry into these spaces requires a permit, and all people doing the work must be trained in the equipment they will use and in how to enter and exit those spaces.
Beyond completing the necessary training, here are a few examples of some of the other most important safety procedures with this work:
Protective equipment: All workers must wear the appropriate protective and rescue equipment when working in a confined space. This includes harnesses, lifelines attire, and any other equipment deemed necessary for the job.
Standby: There should be at least one person designated to be a standby worker outside the entryway to communicate with the worker(s) inside, and to keep careful track of everyone who enters and exits. That person must remain immediately outside the confined space at all times, so long as someone is inside.
Safety meetings and regulations: Before any entry into a confined space, there should be a safety meeting to review regulations and procedures and to discuss the details of the job and any potential safety concerns. The safety coordinator at the job site should be on hand to assist with any questions or issues that arise.
Testing: It is important to conduct atmospheric testing before and during entry to make sure the confined space is safe for workers to enter.
Emergency plans: In addition to planning out the procedures for entry, exit and the work inside the confined space, it is crucial that teams have a rescue plan in place should an emergency situation arise. Rescue from confined spaces should be part of confined space training.
Compliance: Regular monitoring and inspection of confined space entry work should be performed to ensure compliance with all permitting requirements and all regulatory agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Whenever possible, it is ideal to avoid confined space entry entirely so as not to unnecessarily put workers at risk. Ecoserv recently introduced a brand new tool to help reduce the need for confined space entry. The Pit Viper system, introduced in 2019, is a remotely operated application for mud pit and frac tank cleaning. This new technology has allowed us to reduce confined space entry by 80%.