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15 October, 2017

10 years in Safety: 5 Advancements that Are Improving Confined Space Operations

confined-spacing

What Is a Confined Space?

Confined spaces are found in vats, pits, tanks, pipes, ducts, flues, chimneys, silos, sewers, shafts, tunnels or other similarly enclosed structures. Technically, a confined space is an enclosed (or partially enclosed) space that:

  • Is not created to be occupied by a person
  • Is a risk to health and safety due to an atmosphere that has unsafe oxygen levels or contaminants like airborne gases, vapours and dusts
  • Puts a person at risk of engulfment

For more information on hazards in a confined space, see the model Code of Practice: Confined spaces.

Developments in the Last Decade

Over the last decade, the main developments in confined space safety relate to advancements in technology. Innovations that have occurred in the last 10 years have made confined space entry safer than it has ever been before. These technological developments include:

Mobile Apps

The rise of the smartphone application has brought about apps for practically every industry – including confined space safety. These apps keep workers safe by providing safety information, inspection checklists, confined space maps, timers, trackers and more. Canvas provides over 140 apps that are devoted to improving the safety of confined space workers. Most are available for a free trial download, and they are all customisable for specific workplaces.

I-Watch Surveillance System – 2014

This surveillance system utilises a specially-adapted high-definition digital video camera with Wi-Fi capability to monitor the movements of workers within confined spaces. The video camera is mounted on the worker’s helmet or chest, and footage is sent via Wi-Fi to a tablet that is monitored by the sentry on the outside of the confined space. The camera is lightweight and compact, so it doesn’t contribute to a handling hazard. Real-time footage transmitted to smartphones or tablets allows for greater involvement from all operators and customers.

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Portable Laser Tracker

This laser tracker uses complex components and systems to measure confined spaces with high precision. These 3D measurements are reliable and can be carried out with significant time and cost advantages. This laser tracker can be used as a fast and cost-effective solution for undertaking the tedious and potentially dangerous manual confined space measurements that once required human workers.

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Cassi – 2017

CASSI (Confined Space Access Safety System Innovation) is an integrated light-camera for confined spaces. CASSI developed by husband-wife duo Liz Stringer and Anthony Lynham, in 2017, after they realised that there was industry-wide difficulty in meeting legislative requirements for working in confined spaces. This portable device is designed to improve safety during confined space rescues. According to the developer Mrs Stringer, “The purpose of CASSI was to help the industry comply with its legislative requirements… CASSI will also have the ability to warn people of emergencies so there will be a strobe light, communication and obviously down the track with the quad system, we’re hoping to have air quality control monitoring as well.”

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Prototype for Confined Space Inspection Robot

The increase in the use and availability of specialized robotics has created a range of opportunities for avoiding entry into confined spaces. According to RTCNDM, a prototype for a confined space inspection robot is currently in the works. This robot will inspect confined spaces, assess the need for a repair and ultimately make corrections. This robot will use the combined technology of spatial mapping with 3D laser mapping and terahertz radar.

Find out more

More Information

If you have any questions about confined space safety, don’t hesitate to contact us. We provide a range of workplace training courses, including confined space training that ensures workers know their responsibilities and rights when it comes to working in confined spaces.

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