Full Guide to Manhole Safety Equipment
Manhole Safety Explained
We recognize the importance of promoting manhole safety and are happy to provide this manhole safety equipment guide to familiarize you with some equipment necessary to keep workers safe in accordance with OSHA confined-spaces standards.
First Place Supply has been a trusted distributor of industrial supplies for members of the construction and utilities industries for more than 20 years.
From falls to atmospheric hazards to drowning to hazards caused by the surrounding environment, confined spaces can present conditions that are immediately dangerous to workers when not properly identified, evaluated, tested, and controlled. Keeping workers safe should be your first priority.
We found that there were 14 fatalities and nearly as many injuries resulting from construction work involving manholes between 2018 and 2020 according to OSHA. These tragic events ranged from overexposure to H2s, hydrogen sulfide, and other toxins; lack of oxygen due to poor ventilation; electrocution, drowning due to falls; a trench collapse; and equipment malfunction. Serious injuries included loss of consciousness due to exposure to toxic atmosphere, smashed fingers and fingertips due to manhole cover slippage, a fractured eye socket as a result of a hydraulic wrench fail, and fractures, lacerations, and contusions among other things due to falls.
Most of these incidents could have been minimized or completely avoided had safety practices been properly implemented at a job site, including the availability, training, and the use of appropriate manhole safety equipment.
We believe that you can never be too careful when it comes to preparing to work around or inside of a manhole or vault. Understanding the risks and becoming familiar with manhole safety equipment is a crucial first step to mitigating serious accidents. In this Manhole Safety Equipment Guide, we’ve compiled brief information regarding a range of critical and common manhole safety hazards well as equipment solutions links to help keep you and your workers safe on the job.
Quick Links (to FPS product pages):
If you’d like to learn more about common hazards associated with manholes and confined spaces please continue reading here.
Different Types of Manhole Equipment
Falls & Rescue
Thousands of workers suffer from falls on the job every year, including construction and utility crews working near or within manholes. The leading cause of death in construction, OSHA takes fall protection very seriously. You’ll find lots of different rescue tripods for confined space rescue, but we’ve got a better solution for you.
In addition to falls, there are many scenarios where a worker may need to be rescued. The Pelsue LifeGuard helps for confined space rescues by providing anchorage points for hoists to lift workers to safety.
Manhole Safety Equipment Solution: Pelsue Lifeguard Confined Space Rescue Fall Protection System
What it does: The Pelsue LifeGuard System provides anchorage for hoists and self-retracting lifelines for use in fall protection and rescue, while also acting as a barricade to prevent people from accidentally falling or slipping into the confined space.
And while standard rescue tripods are oftentimes mentioned for confined space rescue, the Pelsue Lifeguard is easier for a single person to deploy and includes a guard around the manhole to meet OSHA requirements.
How it works: Fall protection systems typically include an anchor, harness, and connectors and are designed to lock if a worker falls, preventing them from impacting the ground. The LifeGuard can be quickly and easily placed around a manhole, where its durable, structural grade aluminum and steel frame prevents workers from getting too close, while the safety chains allow for easy access to the manhole. The system effortlessly collapses into two different assemblies, and a carrying case is included for the upper assembly, allowing for easy transport and storage.
Click here to watch a demonstration of the Pelsue LifeGuard System.
Exposure to the sun, rain, wind, and even snow can all quickly move from being an annoyance to a health and safety risk more quickly than you might realize. If you’d like to learn more about some of the physical hazards to outdoor workers read The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Hazards to Outdoor Workers Overview here.
Manhole Safety Equipment Solution: Pelsue All-Weather Multi-Tent
What it does: The Pelsue All-Weather Multi-Tent provides ultimate protection for workers by shielding them from the elements and allowing them to stay focused on the job at hand.
How it works: The 5-in-1 tent with solar blocking top can easily be attached to a manhole guard with the appropriate hardware.
Trench or Excavation Accidents
Construction job sites involving trenches or excavation pose extreme hazards to worker safety. From wall collapse, cave-ins, to accidently hitting buried or poorly marked power lines or pipes there’s no worse place to be than underground in a confined space when this type of disaster strikes. In this scenario, workers in manholes may be at risk of being hit by falling objects and debris. Structural inspections of the surrounding area should be conducted any time a worker has gained access to an underground space.
Manhole Safety Equipment Solution: The Pelsue 2760 Pel Protector
What it does: The Pel Protector shields workers, keeping them safe from falling objects and debris, without obstructing ventilation or emergency escapes.
How it works: The Pel Protector is a lightweight and easily removable, molded fiberglass protector that works on either 27″ or 30″ sides of standard manhole shields. Strong enough to support the weight of a man, the Pel Protector weighs just 9-1/2 lbs.
Not enough can be said about the importance of ensuring proper ventilation when working in a confined space such as a manhole. Exposure to certain high concentrations of gases can quickly lead to dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and even death. As discussed in a previous blog, ensuring your workers have proper ventilation will result in making air more breathable by purging it of dust and other particles.
Manhole Safety Equipment Solution: Pelsue Steel Axial Blower with Canister
What it does: Pelsue Steel Axial Blowers are specifically designed for confined space applications to keep your work zone free from toxic air and poisonous gas.
How it works: The Pelsue Axial "AIRPAC" Ventilator is an all-in-one, high volume ventilator and hose that moves air along an axis. Fan blades rotate around the axis, drawing in and pushing out air parallel to that axis. As with any piece of equipment, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the safety and product information before work begins. You can read more in the Pelsue product manual here.
Poor visibility poses serious risk when working in a manhole or other confined space and can lead to a variety of fatal and non-fatal accidents involving unseen moving objects, falls, and operating heavy equipment. Illuminating a confined space using an aid such as a LED or fluorescent light is one way to decrease the risks while increasing visibility where it matters most.
Below, we’re providing manhole safety equipment solutions to the common hazards mentioned above.
Manhole Safety Equipment Solution: Pelsue LED Work Lamp
What it does: Adequate lighting allows workers to avoid hidden objects such as equipment or machinery, as well as to locate exits and escape quickly in the instance of an emergency requiring worker evacuation.
How it works: Durable to withstand drops, rough handling, and excessive use, the Pelsue LED Work Lamp is bright and energy efficient for confined space entry.
We recognize the importance of promoting manhole safety and hope this manhole safety equipment guide helps you with finding and understanding equipment necessary to keep workers safe in accordance with OSHA confined-spaces standards.
Disclaimer: First Place Supply disclaims liability for any personal injury, property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever whether special, indirect, consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on the First Place Supply Guide to Manhole Safety Equipment. First Place Supply makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein. First Place Supply is not undertaking or rendering professional or other services for or on behalf of any person or entity. First Place Supply is not undertaking or performing any duty owed by any person or entity to someone else. Anyone using the First Place Supply Guide to Manhole Safety Equipment should rely on his or her own independent judgement or, as appropriate, seek the advice of a competent professional in determining the exercise of reasonable care in any given circumstances.