Companies with Confined Spaces face quite a dilemma when manning up for shutdowns/turnarounds or even executing their day to day work. Should they reserve their own people to undertake the actual work, to supervise others undertaking the work or supply their own labour to manage the confined spaces where work is to be undertaken ? There are advantages and disadvantages of all these approaches.
There is a legal requirement to have Confined Space Sentries but there is no legal requirement for them to be employees of the “host” company. This role is an essential part of construction and maintenance programs as they are entrusted with the health and safety of those within and around the confined space.
Getting the Expertise
Those with the necessary skills to be a Confined Space Sentry are in demand at present and so hiring personal that have the skills and experience in Confined Space Sentry work, conversant with regulations and familiar with the company’s safety program is vital.
One could source these “experts” from within the organisation but this would prevent this individual from undertaking possibly more “value add” activities for the organisation.
What does a Confined Space Sentry do ?
The roles and responsibilities of a Confined Space Sentry (or attendant, etc.) are more than just “hole watching” and are described in a sister article (What does a Confined Space Sentry Do?) and so will be summarised here:
- Understand hazards
- able to communicate effectively via an agreed and documented process
- know the policies and practices governing the safe management of confined spaces
- monitor entrants during the work and during entry and exit
- NOT to leave their post for any reason whilst workers are in the confined space unless relieved by another qualified, approved and documented sentry/attendant
- Monitor the atmospheric conditions in the confined space prior to and during entry
- control access to the confined space (personnel, equipment, etc.)
- summon emergency assistance if and when required
- keep records of confined space work and the entry and exit of personnel to and from the confined space
In short, a confined space sentry is the person on “hole watch” to be in constant communication with those within the confined space. The main purpose that this role serves is to sound the alarm in case of an emergency or to raise awareness about a potential emergency situation. A confined space attendant is not to enter the confined space to perform the rescue but is to implement the emergency procedures (“sound the alarm”) so that rescue professionals can be brought in.
Should The Confined Space Sentry Role be Outsourced ?
The job of a “hole-watch” should not be taken lightly. Their performance potentially saves lives. One cannot afford to hire an entry-level employee that has not been properly trained and assign that person as a Confined Space Sentry.
Because of the risk involved in confined space work, an objective third-party with trained employees is best brought in to a work site to assist with confined space management.
Trained and independent Confined Space Sentries not only know how to maintain workplace procedures but will act decisively and without prejudice if an emergency situation were to occur and will be able to diligently enact the emergency procedures in a calm and rational manner.
An untrained or company-aligned Confined Space Sentry may be tempted to rush into the confined space to help those in trouble, especially if his or her work colleagues (or even close friends) are in distress or danger. There may be then further lives placed in danger. Independent and well trained Confined Space Sentries go a long way in improving Confined Space Management and Safety thus significantly contributing to a safe and successful construction or maintenance program.
Hazwatch Safety are specialists in the supply of Confined Space Sentry personnel and are available for Confined Space and skilled and semi-skilled labour hire for your shutdowns or for daily hire. We can provide the labour for the safe management of your confined spaces. Contact Jodee on 0400 668 716 or email Hazwatch Safety via the Contact Us page for more information.
For more information on Confined Space Sentries or on Confined Spaces in general, please contact your local authority and your local area specialists in Confined Space Safety Management.