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The existing OSHA 1910.146 Permit Required Confined Space

Standard for general industry does not address hazards immediately outside and

adjacent to confined spaces.   Atmospheric

hazards adjacent to a confined space create both health and safety

hazards.   Fatalities have occurred when

workers were overcome by toxins present in the vicinity of the confined space. Flammable

atmospheres have been the source of numerous fatalities that have occurred when

a worker was performing hot work immediately outside a confined space.  Two employees at Valero Refinery died when

they were overcome by nitrogen as they performed maintenance work near a confined

space opening on the top of a reactor.  A worker at DuPont was killed when he was

welding immediately outside a tank containing flammable vapors.

These fatal accidents may have been prevented if the
atmosphere outside these two confined spaces had been tested.   How do we address those hazards that are not
necessarily inside the confined space but are very much associated with the
confined space hazard?  


In the marine industry, both the OSHA Shipyard standards

(1915.14) and NFPA 306 Standard for the Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels

recognize the hazards of adjacent spaces. 

 Both standards require that a Marine

Chemist evaluate not only the confined space but also the area adjacent to those spaces whenever hot

work such as welding will take place.  

NFPA is developing a best practices document for confined
space entry.  The new document is designed to address gaps in existing confined space standards and will
likely include the evaluation of hazards in the area adjacent to the confined

If you have suggestions for what should be included in this
soon to be developed new confined space best practices document we would love
to hear from you.    Should the document
address hazards immediately adjacent to confined spaces?  Is there a gap in the current OSHA general
industry standard that should address these hazards? We want to hear from you!

A video on the Valero incident

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Bill Guindon from the Maine Fire Service PhotoInstitute to deliver the NPFA’s 34th Electric Vehicle Safety Training Train-the-Trainer program.  We got a chance to break in their new facility in Brunswick as one of the first formal classes held there.  Additionally, local dealers provided us with a Toyota Prius and a brand new 2013 Chevrolet Volt for the students to interact with.  Fire Service Institute Instructors and local firefighters had an opportunity apply the information learned in the classroom to these vehicles as we discussed specific shutdown procedures and other features critical to emergency scene operations.


If you are interested in taking the EV safety training program contact your state’s fire training agency to find out if there are any upcoming classes in your area.

Stay Safe,

Jason Emery


One of the big concerns consumers have about purchasing an electric vehicle is the time it takes to fully charge the battery. Internal combustion engine cars can take around five minutes to fully fuel the gas tank as opposed to electric cars taking 8 hours on average to complete its charge. To consumers looking to purchase an electric vehicle this difference may sway them more to internal combustion vehicles. However, due to an innovative new procedure in the works, this may soon change.

Better Place is releasing an innovative procedure of swapping out depleted car batteries and replacing it with a fully charged identical battery. The battery that is removed can then be charged and given to the next person in need of a charged battery. This process from start to finish takes roughly five minutes equal to that of its counterpart in internal combustion vehicles.

The process is quite straightforward, cars simply drive up to the conveyor belt and the depleted battery is removed followed by a fully charged battery to replace it. This swap is done very quickly and without even the need to exit your vehicle.

By removing the charge times for electric vehicles Better Place allows consumers to drive their cars similarly to gas cars if the infrastructure of swapping stations is developed.

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