Project overview:

The Confined Space Regulations (1997) states:

No person at work shall enter or carry out work in a confined space unless there have been prepared in respect of that confined space suitable and sufficient arrangements for the rescue of persons in the event of an emergency, whether or not arising out of a specified risk.

In preparation for a 10 yearly cleaning and maintenance project inside a 40 tonne propane tank, our client approached us to enquire about the provision of a 3 man standby rescue team for the duration of the 3 day project.

With a team of highly experienced and qualified training professionals, specialising in a range of disciplines including confined space rescue, of course we were able to assist.

AquaTerra kicked off the project with a pre-site visit in order to produce a detailed risk assessment and undertake job safety analysis to ensure the safeguarding of personnel and assets. The team also oversaw the erection of scaffold on the tank to ensure it would satisfy the requirements of the rescue plan they produced.

 Before entry was permitted, the vessel was flared off, nitrogen purged, vented and tested to a reading of no less than 20.9% oxygen in the atmosphere and flammable free. AquaTerra was responsible for the initial and continued gas testing inside the tank as part of the safe systems of work which ensured that all entrants, as well as the rescue team members, wore a personal gas monitor with the ability to detect oxygen, flammables and toxins.

The team were responsible for the safe extraction of any entrants in the event of an emergency, where appropriate. As part of the rescue plan, AquaTerra ensured a tri-pod and inertia reel with a winch were in place at all times at the entry/exit point following the removal of the top valve. AquaTerra’s own rescue kit (ARK) was also in place as a secondary rescue system. This was to allow for safe lowering and raising of any rescue team members or casualties individually dependant on the nature of the potential emergency.

A full inventory of equipment was supplied by AquaTerra to ensure all aspects of the rescue plan and safe systems of work were covered. This included items such as; breathing apparatus, ARKs, inertia reel & winch, tripod, harnesses, fall arrest, safety signage, stretcher, AED, oxygen, trauma bag, work at height hard hats with chin strap, gas monitors.

In the event of any emergency within the tank the audible warning alarm (4 sharp whistle blasts) was to be activated by the safety attendant (also covered by AquaTerra staff), the rescue team would be required to deploy from the entry point in full PPE/PFPE and breathing apparatus (where required) as per the rescue plan.

Once the work was underway, no unauthorised access was permitted into the confined space and the AquaTerra rescue team operated a sign in/sign out system to monitor this. AquaTerra also kept a separate diary to log all activity taking place during the project.