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Safe Times- February/March 2019

     We recently completed some work at one of our jobsites that required some of our personnel to work in “confined space” conditions. As most of you know, being an electrician means going where the work takes you and, in this case, it was down a service hatch into a crawl space.


     The easy answer is NO. In this one job there may be unseen hazards that you would never see on a normal reno type job. 
     The NS OH&S guideline defines a confined space as:
A confined space is an enclosed or partially enclosed space;

  • Not intended for regular human occupancy

  • With restricted access or exit; and

  • Is or may become hazardous to a person entering it because of design, construction, location, atmosphere or materials in it

(taken from Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Division – Confined Space Entry Guidelines)

     When you want a job to be successfully you need the right people, right equipment and the right understanding of the job. Taking shortcuts can lead to some serious problems.

A major telecommunication company in Canada was fined $280,000 in 2007 in the death of two workers who where working in a confine space. These two men where working 15 feet below ground pulling fiber optic cable and we’re found unconscious. Both men were overcome by toxic atmosphere at the bottom of the vault and collapsed.
(RKMS Safety Group website 7-Apr-2009)

     This was a horrible incident and most certainly could have been avoided.

     Able Electric has a procedure for working in confined spaces. Planning and having all the correct safety equipment are only good if we have personnel that has been trained and certified.


Able Electric’s service Technician Mark Guthro getting ready to enter a confined space. Safety harness, two-way radio and an air monitor are only part of the PPE that is needed.

Good Job Mark!

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The job-site where we completed our confined space work. Tight quarters to set-up in. Easily identified with cones and tape. Jason Evans, Jeff LaPierre and Mark Guthro.


Able Electric has developed Safe Work Practices (Section 4.2.34 in the Able Safety Manual) for this type of work since 2008. Hazard Assessment, Toolbox meeting, Confined Space checklist, Confined Space Permit and Onsite Rescue Plan  are designed to keep everyone safe. It’s a bit like trying to look ahead at what “could” happen and plan to avoid it!


Work in confined space can only be done with the proper safety equipment. On the left you will see a tripod and wench system that can be used to hoist someone to safety in the event there is an incident.

The SKED is a flexible stretcher for difficult angles to remove someone to safety when seconds count. See below for more details.

“One of  the biggest challenges for Able is finding electricians with the correct up-to-date training and certification…”

-Michael Castellani, Able Electric

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