Gasmeeting tank

The Importance of Measuring Gas in Confined Spaces

John van Bommel
John van Bommel
Regional Manager Safety North

The most obvious confined space you might think about when thinking about measuring gas is the shipping container. Measuring gas in shipping containers is very important, but there many other confined spaces that should be checked for dangerous gasses. Most dangerous gasses can not be seen, and some also can’t be smelled.

The Hallmarks of a Confined Space

Very much like a shipping container, most confined spaces have only one point of entry. Often confined spaces are poorly ventilated and there isn’t much room to move around freely. Confined spaces are not designed for long stays, but when it comes to gas even a short stay can be dangerous and harmful.

Examples of confined spaces are storage tanks, cargo holds, basements, silos, ducts, or sewers.

Why Gas Measurements are Necessary

Gas in confined spaces can lead to suffocation, intoxication, poisoning, fire or explosion. Each of these situations is harmful and can even be deadly for people. Companies are required by law to ensure a safe work environment for their employees. Gas measurements can prevent incidents and accidents and ensure a safe working environment for people that need to enter confined spaces.

Measuring Gas in a Ship’s Hold

Bulk cargo, like grains, rice, or cacao is often transported by ship. When a ship’s hold is used for transporting foodstuffs it is often regularly gassed with phosphine to kill vermin and protect the cargo. Phosphine is also a deadly gas for humans, so it is very important to measure for gas in a ship’s hold if phosphine is used. Before a ship is unloaded you need to make sure the hold is free of dangerous gases. In the Netherlands, you are obligated to have a gas-free declaration before unloading (Arbo law 3.5G)

Measuring Gas in Confined Spaces

Before entering a confined space like a storage tank or a silo for cleaning, maintenance, or repairs, you need to do a gas measurement. A gas measurement ensures there are no harmful gasses in the tank and makes sure that the working environment is healthy and safe. When gas levels are below the legal limits the confined space can temporarily be released for entrance. When a confined space needs to be accessed multiple times a day, more than one gas measurement may be required.

Take the Load Off Your Mind

If you have any questions about gas-related matters, or need support with fumigation or degassing of your shipment, a risk analysis, or any other gas-related issue, please contact one of our trained and experienced specialists. They are happy to help. Customs Support Safety: Gas Analysis and Risk Management.

Customs Support: Take the load off your mind!