Developing a system to clearly distinguish confined spaces
Best Practices Award
Challenge. The site’s confined spaces were being referred to differently amongst employees. Miscommunication could occur causing serious safety implications—such as permitting the wrong space for entry, entering the wrong space when multiple entries are being performed, referring to an improper hazard assessment while setting entry conditions, and potential confusion during an event requiring rescue leading to possible delayed response time.
Solution. Each of the site’s confined spaces was assigned an identifying space number (Fig 1). A master list of all confined spaces was generated, along with facility drawings and photographs further identifying each space and its location (Fig 2). In addition, this information was shared with the local fire department, and the assigned space numbers were added to the written rescue plans for each of the spaces.
Results. By implementing a numbering system to identify confined spaces, a clear method has been established for employees, contractors, and emergency rescue services to clearly distinguish each of the facility’s confined spaces. Today, confined areas are referred to by their assigned number in addition to a description of the space.All documents pertaining to entries including permits, hazard assessments (Fig 3), and rescue plans reference the space by number and an accompanying space description. Finally, the spaces were further identified in the field by labeling each space with its corresponding space number.
The system is especially helpful during outages when multiple spaces are being entered at the same time. Permits, hazard assessments, and rescue plans can easily be cross-referenced at the labeled point of entry to ensure that the correct space is being entered and that the entry documents accurately reflect the hazards associated with the given space.
Rachal R Havens, senior EHS specialist
Sabine Cogen LP
Owned by ArcLight Capital Partners and NRG
Operated by Consolidated Asset Management Services
105-MW, gas-fired, 2 × 1 combined-cycle cogeneration facility located in Orange, Tex
Plant manager: Tim Hevrin