Cowlitz Falls Confined Space Assessment

Cowlitz Falls Confined Space AssessmentOn July 28, Jim Johnson, CEO of D2000, visited the Cowlitz Falls hydroelectric project to perform an assessment of the plant's confined spaces and confined space program.

"The whole idea of confined spaces in a hydro plant is interesting," Jim explained, "because you've got spaces attached to other spaces, all of which are contained in a building which is climate-controlled. It becomes pretty evident that once you start analyzing, the permit space regulations aren't really a good fit for hydro plants."

One of the main challenges is that you have work spaces that are difficult to access but may not pose any serious hazards, aside from those introduced by work activities. In these situations it can be difficult to determine whether the space is a non-permit space, enclosed space (such as a vault), reclassified space, or a permit-required confined space. "When you're confronted with these questions, it's important to focus on controlling the hazards," Jim said, "and spend less time worrying about labeling spaces. Hazards hurt people, so focus on those first. Once you've done that, the identity of the spaces becomes easier to determine."

D2000's final report determined that Lewis County PUD, which operates the facility, has done a good job at identifying the spaces and controlling the hazards.

The primary need identified is to continue to develop their rescue capabilities. "They have a good handle on non-entry rescue," Jim explained, "so our next task will be to help them develop entry rescue capabilities." Like many facilities, there is only a limited number of staff at the plant, so developing a rescue team will be a challenge, particularly if everyone at the plant is serving as a member of the entry team. "There are some people we draw on from management and other nearby hydro facilities," the plant supervisor, Jim Byrd, explained. "So we'll get it handled."

D2000 is scheduled to provide standby rescue services and training over the next few months.

Jim Johnson April 17, 2014
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