Team Roles & Responsibilities in Confined Space Work

Team Roles & Responsibilities in Confined Space Work
by John Carlucci - October 24, 2022

A team of trained personnel is required to perform permit-required confined space work. In this article, we’ll break down the various necessary roles needed to safely execute confined space work and what each role’s responsibilities are.   

Roles

It is important to note that regardless of role, confined space work comes with a substantial amount of responsibility, not just for one’s own safety but for the safety of the entire team and the facility itself. 

The standard roles necessary for permit-required confined space work are:

  • Entrants
  • Attendants
  • Supervisors

An entrant is any licensed worker who enters a confined space to perform work. Attendants are workers who support and monitor the entrant and safety conditions from outside the confined space. Supervisors oversee the entire operation to ensure overall safety and adherence to protocol.

Entrants

The core requirements and responsibilities of any licenced confined workspace entrant are to

  • Obtain detailed information about the risks of the particular confined space, including indications, symptoms, and effects of exposure to the space’s hazards.
  • Maintain prompt communication with attendants and supervisors while performing confined space work.
  • Notify attendants immediately of exposure or any other forthcoming dangers.
  • Vacate the confined space instantly if

○ Ordered to exit by an attendant or supervisor

○ Symptoms of exposure or another perilous situation arise

○ Warned to evacuate by alarm

Attendants

Like entrants, attendants need to be fully educated on the health and safety risks entrants face in order to support their safe return topside. Attendants are required to

  • Count the number of entrants and identify each one.
  • Attend the outside of the confined space unless or until relieved by another attendant.
  • Stay in communication with entrants and alert them of any detected hazards inside the confined space.
  • Monitor activities and conditions both inside and outside the confined space.
  • Order entrants to evacuate immediately if

○ A danger is detected

○ Behavioral exposure symptoms in entrants are recognized

○ If the safety of the area outside the confined space is compromised

○ If one is unable to properly perform attendant duties due to extenuating circumstances

  • Call emergency services promptly when an entrant must vacate the space.
  • Warn unauthorized personnel not to enter the space and report any unauthorized entry to other entrants and supervisors.
  • Perform rescue procedures excluding rescue that would require an attendant to enter the confined space themselves.

Supervisors

Like entrants and attendants, supervisors must also be fully aware of the signals, manifestations, and results of exposure to hazardous or toxic conditions. Additionally, supervisors are expected to

  • Know how to contain or eliminate health and safety hazards.
  • Ensure that all preparatory tests required have been performed before entry.
  • Remove unauthorized entrants.

Conclusion

It is imperative to the health and safety of all involved that team members work together with extraordinary attention to detail and rapid, clear communication, among other life-saving skills.

Author Bio-

Building off over 3 decades of experience from working with his father Jim Mayfield (Mayfield Enterprises, Inc.), James mastered the industry in Foremanship for over 15 years on HAZMAT and Superfund Sites throughout Southern California. Among many other partners, we has worked with Project Navigator, RE Solutions, Crew Grading Inc., WSP, SCS Engineers, TRC Corporation, GeoSyntec, NV5 Environmental, Entact Corp, Waste by Rail, Michael Baker, ERRG, O&M Corp, Largo Concrete, B&D Construction, Xebec, WorkSmart, JLL Enterprises, Mayfield Enterprises, Inc., Arcadis, and more. In addition to being a Stanford-educated Professor with over 30 publications and books in several languages (see Academic Resume), James' real passion lies in Construction-related Project Management, Environmental Cleanups, HAZMAT, Excavation, and Field Labor. We are also Minority-Owned. James Mayfield is a Native American citizen of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas & Nebraska.

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