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* News Release *
 
Friday, September 2, 2011
For Immediate Release

COUNTY EMPLOYEES PARTICIPATE IN CONFINED SPACE TRAINING

Claustrophobic? Acrophobic? Then a recent training program for County employees is definitely not for you. Highway service workers and bridge inspection engineers from the Butler County Engineer's Office participated in confined space training earlier this week. A collaborative effort with the Water and Sewer Department and the Commissioners' Department of Safety, the program also included fall protection training for those who's jobs take them into high spaces.

Not for the faint of heart, there are many potentially dangerous tasks performed by county workers on a regular basis. "Confined space entry is one of the most hazardous tasks, and yet it may be given the least consideration since such undertakings often go unseen by the general public," said BCEO Administrative Deputy Fred Stitsinger. "Workers lowering into a manhole aren't as obvious as blacktopping or road construction crews." But County workers are well aware of the dangerous and explosive gases that can lurk in sewers and other enclosed areas and that's why efforts have been stepped up to identify and mitigate potentially dangerous situations.

What Is a Confined Space?

A confined space is defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) as an area whose enclosed conditions and limited access make it dangerous to humans. This can involve small, enclosed spaces which have the potential to contain deadly gases capable of asphyxiating the entrant.

This week's program trained workers on new procedures and regulations and involved classroom as well as practical application. A confined space simulator tank was also used to replicate actual conditions in which certain work crews are likely to find themselves. Instruction included how to identify potential hazards, proper air monitoring techniques and procedures when entering confined spaces, how to avoid injury, and what to do in the event of an emergency situation.

Collaboration Saves Money

"Employee safety is a critical component in our ultimate effort to serve the public and maintain a safe and efficient infrastructure," Stitsinger said. As part of that goal, in addition to the safety training, the BCEO has purchased a new, very sophisticated gas meter which will indicate the presence of gases before entry into a confined space. This and other equipment will be shared among the various departments.

Butler County Safety Director Utah Bailey noted that the three County departments were able to work collaboratively on the training, pointing out that sharing of resources and equipment saves the County money.

The Engineer's Office will also begin performing bridge inspections in-house as a new cost-savings measure. To that end, BCEO bridge engineers participated in this week's program most notably for the fall protection portion. "Close inspection of the underside of bridges can obviously involve some high places," said Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. "We want to ensure our employees are properly trained and equipped to undertake these potentially risky but necessary tasks."

Below are images from the training that took place earlier this week:

Click on images to enlarge.
Inside the confined space simulator tank..
Confined space simulator tank. ....

# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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