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In this final part of our three-part series on confined spaces, we’re going to explore the actual entry process into a permit space, discuss what kind of post-entry activities that should be considered and how to keep good records of all entries.
Within the safety field, it seems there’s always a form, permit or other type of documentation that must be generated and kept on hand providing evidence that a company is performing certain regulatory activities as required. For confined spaces, one of the primary records that must be generated and kept is the entry permit.
When tasked with developing a confined spaces program, the first place many safety professionals will go to search for things like example permits or permit templates is the internet and a quick online search for “confined space permits” will yield a good number of websites and templates. However, while no one likes to reinvent the wheel, anything found online from a random source should be thoroughly vetted before being used. This is especially true for those safety professionals who maybe aren’t entirely sure of what’s supposed to be included in an entry permit or for those who weren’t aware until just now that there are actually requirements for what’s supposed to be included. It should be understood that using a permit that doesn’t include all the required items can be dangerous, especially if what’s omitted is an important piece of safety information.
At EHS Insight, we understand how cumbersome it can be to find good templates that allow for a little customization. So, with that in mind we’ve created a Confined Spaces Entry Permit Template that can be used as is or that can be modified to include additional information as needed.
Even though OSHA only requires a review of entry operations if the employer believes that the process being used doesn’t adequately protect workers and even though they only require the actual permit space program to be reviewed annually during years where entries have taken place, it’s still a good practice to conduct a post-entry review at the conclusion of every confined space entry.
Many employers will simply go along with the standards and skip this practice however, performing a quick post-entry review after each entry is important because this is how issues are found and eliminated before they can cause injuries or fatalities.
The post-entry review process doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated but it should offer participants the opportunity to talk about their experiences and discuss what went well and what needs improvement. For a simple to use, one page form that offers plenty of space for comments, look no further than at our Post-Entry Critique Form which like nearly all of our templates, can be modified as needed.
Confined spaces programs can have a lot of moving parts which can be hard to keep up with, especially if there’s a lot of other activity going on or the person managing the process is still learning.
When trying to manage all of these moving parts, one area that seems to be constant source of stress is ensuring that all of the required steps have been completed before, during and after an entry into a permit-required space. A simple way of reducing the possibility that important steps will be skipped in the process is to use a checklist like EHS Insight’s Confined Space Entry Checklist. With our checklist, users can go through each step in the process, initial and date when each has been completed, add any comments or notes and finally, require a signature when the entire process has been completed. And, as with most of our templates, this checklist is modifiable as needed.
Another good practice for keeping things organized is to document all permit entries in one place. Having a log of all entries into permit-required confined spaces can help the program manager keep track of how many entries are being performed, can help identify the regular participants to keep training up to date, and can help track hours and labor costs which could then be used to support the justification for using contractors for this activity. A good template to use for this is EHS Insight’s Confined Spaces Entry Log which allows users to document each permit entry, when it took place, which space was entered, when the permit was issued, when it was canceled and whether or not a post-entry review was conducted.
We know that confined spaces can be a tedious, confusing program to manage, especially for people who are new to the safety field or who are new to confined spaces. No matter what the situation, there are some very good resources available to help even the newest safety professional better understand what’s required and how to manage those requirements.
If you think your company could benefit from a more organized approach to managing confined spaces, let us know and we’ll talk you through how we can help you stay on top of everything.
Katy Lyden is a EHS Domain Analyst and Subject Matter Expert for StarTex Software, the company behind EHS Insight. Prior to her current role, Katy spent 17 years successfully leading EHS programs for several large companies within the manufacturing industry. Katy is a Navy veteran, Licensed Emergency Medical...
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