May 29, 2015

The confined space supervisor: an overlooked but essential role!

The confined space supervisor: an overlooked but essential role!

When working in confined spaces, among the stakeholders, the confined space supervisors have one of the most important roles.

Unfortunately, we observed that this task is given to candidates with little or no qualification. The Occupational Health and Safety confined space policy is clear. Section 308 states that the supervisors must have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their job. This position includes more responsibilities than it appears!

Initially, the main reason for his presence outside is to maintain a contact, visual, auditory, or by any other mean, with the worker in order to take emergency measures promptly in case there is a problem. Also, an additional set of tasks is assigned to him:

  1. Identify and recognize risks for the entrant and himself
  2. Ensure that confined space work is performed according to the established terms
  3. Stop confined space work and cancel entry when a situation requires it
  4. Verify and manage air quality during entry
  5. Manage mechanical ventilation installed outside
  6. Be able to utilize evacuation equipment placed outside the confined space to execute an external rescue (without entry)
  7. Never enter the confined space under any consideration
  8. And sometimes more

Avoid distractions!

The supervisor must always be alert. As he is stationary outside the confined space, many have the tendency to maintain a conversation with him, to keep him busy. This is dangerous! To avoid that, concrete actions should be put in place:

  • Establish a security perimeter around the opening
  • Provide the supervisor with an identified vest (soon available at SPI) or any other identification. This vest serves three purposes:
  • Avoid disturbing or distracting him (comparable to the scarf worn by a guide dog)
  • Ensure the supervisor is at his position when there are workers in the confined space
  • Be located easily by the emergency team in case of a rescue situation

CONFINED SPACE Training of supervisors, why not?

Many organizations have chosen to train staff assigned to the supervision of confined spaces for the following reasons:

  • Maintain trades workers (plumber, electrician, etc.) at confined space tasks
  • Standardize the work of supervisors
  • Facilitate confined space work
  • Most importantly, to ensure that supervisors have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the job

SPI offers a confined space supervisor service

Wouldn’t you prefer to take advantage of experienced supervisor services? Our staff can fulfill that role for you. As a result, you can concentrate on your construction work!

Contact us to learn more about the role of supervisors, our training and supervision services. 

Fabien Demers, SPI Senior Advisor and Trainer

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