The Challenge of Safely Cleaning Hard to Reach Confined Spaces
High level commercial cleaning of inaccessible and hard to reach confined spaces is a challenge for many food and beverage manufacturers. Increasing pressure from customers to deliver high standards of cleaning and hygiene with fewer and fewer resources can expose workers to risk of injury and acute illness. According to Confined Spaces – a Brief Guide to Working Safely, “confined spaces can be deadly with a number of people killed or seriously injured in confined spaces each year in the UK. Those killed include people working in the confined space and those who try to rescue them without proper training and equipment.”
However, manufacturers in the food and processing industry can take some simple steps to prevent commercial cleaning accidents or reduce the severity of injuries that may result from them.
Air Testing and Ventilation
The atmosphere in a confined space can be hazardous to workers for many reasons. Too little or too much oxygen, poisonous gas in the air, dust or explosions are all risk factors that need to be taken into consideration when cleaning confined spaces in commercial food and beverage manufacturing facilities. Therefore air quality equipment should always be properly maintained and calibrated, be in good working order and used by someone specifically trained for safe entry into small and inaccessible spaces.
Minimize Physical Entry
According to Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 3, suitable and sufficient assessment of risks and hazards need to be carried before workers enter a confined space. Therefore the following measures of safety should be considered:
- the task;
- the working environment;
- working materials and tools;
- the suitability of those carrying out the task; and
- arrangements for emergency rescue.
The Health and Safety Executive of the UK insists that physical entry into confined spaces should be minimized to reduce the risks of injury. As a result, ACS specialist cleaning Ltd, one of the UK’s leading confined space cleaning companies has designed the Gyro-whip system which provides a fast and safe solution to remotely clean confined spaces in the food manufacturing and processing industry with minimal risk to workers.