Confined Space E&A – Attendants

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By Standard Number1926.1209 – Duties of attendants

NEVER LEAVES THE OUTSIDE OF A CONFINED SPACE WITHOUT A QUALIFIED ATTENDANT REPLACEMENT

Have you ever wondered who that person is who hovers around the portal of a permit space while workers are in the space? What does a Confined Space Attendant (often referred to as the “Hole Watch”) do anyway? What may seem like a cushy job is actually a critical safety responsibility. Here’s why:

First, OSHA instituted regulations regarding Permit-Required Confined Spaces (1910.146) due to the high number of serious injuries and deaths in confined spaces. Entering these spaces is dangerous business, and the attendant serves as the “safety watchman” for entrants as well as those who may casually try to enter. This also applies in an emergency situation when others may be tempted (but unqualified) to enter the space to rescue a co-worker.

The entry employer must ensure that each attendant:1926.1209(a)

  • Is familiar with and understands the hazards that may be faced during entry, including information on the mode, signs or symptoms, and consequences of the exposure;1926.1209(b)
  • Is aware of possible behavioral effects of hazard exposure in authorized entrants;1926.1209(c)
  • Continuously maintains an accurate count of authorized entrants in the permit space and ensures that the means used to identify authorized entrants under § 1926.1206(d) accurately identifies who is in the permit space;1926.1209(d)
  • Remains outside the permit space during entry operations until relieved by another attendant

    • Note to paragraph (d). Once an attendant has been relieved by another attendant, the relieved attendant may enter a permit space to attempt a rescue when the employer’s permit space program allows attendant entry for rescue and the attendant has been trained and equipped for rescue operations as required by § 1926.1211(a).1926.1209(e)
  • Communicates with authorized entrants as necessary to assess entrant status and to alert entrants of the need to evacuate the space under § 1926.1208(e);1926.1209(f)
  • Assesses activities and conditions inside and outside the space to determine if it is safe for entrants to remain in the space and orders the authorized entrants to evacuate the permit space immediately under any of the following conditions:1926.1209(f)(1)
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  • If there is a prohibited condition;1926.1209(f)(2)
  • If the behavioral effects of hazard exposure are apparent in an authorized entrant;1926.1209(f)(3)
  • If there is a situation outside the space that could endanger the authorized entrants; or1926.1209(f)(4)
  • If the attendant cannot effectively and safely perform all the duties required under this section;1926.1209(g)
  • Summons rescue and other emergency services as soon as the attendant determines that authorized entrants may need assistance to escape from permit space hazards;1926.1209(h)
  • Takes the following actions when unauthorized persons approach or enter a permit space while entry is underway:1926.1209(h)(1)
  • Warns the unauthorized persons that they must stay away from the permit space;1926.1209(h)(2)
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  • Advises the unauthorized persons that they must exit immediately if they have entered the permit space; and1926.1209(h)(3)
  • Informs the authorized entrants and the entry supervisor if unauthorized persons have entered the permit space;1926.1209(i)
  • Performs non-entry rescues as specified by the employer’s rescue procedure; and1926.1209(j)
  • Performs no duties that might interfere with the attendant’s primary duty to assess and protect the authorized entrants.