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Safe Work Procedures for Working inside and Around a Tank


Inspecting, cleaning and repairing large storage tanks are jobs for those who have been properly trained. These tanks may be located above or below ground. 

In either case, facility owners where tanks exist must be certain their employees understand safe work procedures for working inside and around these tanks. In many states, tanks above ground store water, grain or petrochemicals. 

Underground storage tanks are mainly used for petrochemicals and can be found near gas stations and refineries. The U.S. EPA defines an underground storage tank (UST) as a tank with more than ten percent of the tank underground. 


Working inside a tank above ground requires employees to practice safe work procedures for entry and exit and to implement OSHA compliance regulations regarding Confined Space Entry procedures. This includes safety gear and equipment, access to external emergency contacts and also designating comprehensively trained leadership to oversee internal tank work. 

Working around the tank, OSHA also provides work safety regulations such as freely accessible walkways, removal of accumulated debris, ensuring bagged materials are properly stored and equipment used to fill or hoisting of material into tanks is located away from power lines and are operating properly. Fire protection equipment should be readily accessible. 

Pre-Work Procedures


Depending on materials stored in a tank, employees should follow safety procedures that have been part of safety training courses. For example, working inside and around a petroleum tank may incur more safety procedures than an above ground tank that stores water. 

If a tank must be entered for inspection, cleaning or repair purposes, employees should be provided with a list of guidelines they can follow. 

In tanks where fumes and vapors are a hazard, employees can be exposed to lack of sufficient oxygen. Employees should know in advance that working in confined spaces where a hazardous atmosphere exists, requires confined space safety gear that includes:

 

  • Gas detection equipment
  • Workman tripods, hoists and guard rail wench kits for entry
  • Respiratory protection gear like respirator air tanks
  • Protective clothing
  • Kevlar protective hoods

 

Practicing 40 CFR Safety Compliance


Employees who work around tanks should also be knowledgeable in 40 CFR compliance for protecting employees and the environment. 40 CFR provides guidelines for working inside and around above ground storage tanks. 

In addition to workplace safety, this citation may help employers determine which tasks inside and around tanks should be performed by their employees and which require outside resources and specialized detection equipment mandated by federal or state regulatory agencies. 

Well Informed Employees Reduce Errors and Potential Injuries
There is more to walk around inspections of above ground tanks than meets the eye. It is important to frequently assess employees' ability to cite an impending problem. 

In the Northeast, for example, an unusual and quite disastrous super storm flooded over huge areas of coastal states compromising soil beneath water tanks. High winds in the Midwest also compromise large tanks. These events require in depth, comprehensive training of employees with superior detection skills. 

By providing an IL UST Operator Training course, employees have access to greater knowledge of emergency response, fueling, monitoring problems and how to use fire extinguishers. For more details on how to enroll, visit 360training.com

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