Apr 14, 2006, 7:54 PM
Post #2 of 9
Jonna, I’m happy to learn that all the people in this near tragedy survived. I wrote about this type of danger in my original post because I know that it would never occur to most laymen that they could breathe enough air to put themselves at risk of death.
Re: [sfmacaws] Working in enclosed spaces, a terrible tragedy
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Besides the innocent and naïve belief of many people that there is no serious danger involved in working in confined spaces, there is the cost, for many people in Mexico; they simply do not have the financial means to protect themselves, or their workers in dangerous situations.
I spent most of my adult life working in the construction industry. It is always a little dismaying when I hear people dismissing construction workers abilities as though anyone could do that work with no training, or education. It’s not a place for dummies.
When I first started working as an apprentice, it was simply accepted that there would be one job related death per million Dollars of construction cost.
Attitudes have changed in the last few decades, and many protective laws have been passed in The US, due in large part to the efforts and pressure of the construction labor unions.
Today, when we work underground, or in a confined space, on a union job we always have one man on “hole watch’ to summon help from the safety office if needed via a radio call. We also carry one or more “tri meters” with us; they are about the size of a hand held two-way radio. A tri meter monitors the working atmosphere for toxicity, oxygen level, and LEL. LEL stands for “lowest explosive level” of the atmosphere we are working in.
We always left them set on “Oxygen level”. An alarm will sound if any one of the conditions of the atmosphere being monitored exceeded, or dropped near or below safe levels.
The safety officer always has SCABA (self contained air breathing apparatus) available to use in rescues for incidents as you have described. We seldom worked using those SCABA tanks, the air supply in them is extremely limited, 30 minutes if you are at rest, 20 minutes if you are walking, and less than 10 minutes if you are working. When the low air alarm sounds, you’ve got about 3 minutes to evacuate. When the oxygen level in an atmosphere drops below 19 % it will not support life.
When we would get our annual re-certification cards, part of the refresher training was always in the use of SCABA tanks, the best known brand of them are the Scott air tanks.
I also mentioned in my original post that two men died about two years ago when they were cleaning a cisterna (aljibe) at the Chrysler plant in Mexico City when that plant was being decommissioned. It’s serious stuff working in a confined space. Unfortunately, most people don’t think it is.
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