Reduce Costs and Increase Safety of Maintenance Operations in a Confined Space

The first stage of any maintenance repair operation is a visual assessment of equipment and conditions. There are many instances where these maintenance and repair operations involve equipment and environments that are within a confined space. Confined space entries can be dangerous and have regulations and safety mandates that increase the safety, but also increase the cost and complexity of the operation. By using remote video inspection tools from Zistos Corporation, the number of confined space entries can be reduced and in some cases eliminated entirely. By utilizing these tools it is possible to both increase the safety of an operation, while at the same time reduce the overall maintenance costs to facilitate.

The First Step of a Maintenance/Repair Operation
In almost every instance, maintenance and repair operations start out by making a visual assessment of operating conditions, environment and equipment. The objective of this initial step is to accomplish the following;

  • help assess the status of the area,
  • to determine the nature of a problem,
  • establish a starting point for troubleshooting/repair process,
  • to predetermine what tools or replacement parts may be necessary to complete a repair.

In addition, the initial assessment is necessary to help insure the safety of workers involved by allowing them to identify any potential hazards in the area (such as leaking high pressure lines or arcing electrical connections), that could pose a hazard to those working in proximity.

Dangers of Confined Space Entry
A space is generally recognized to be a “Confined Space” if it:

  • has limited or restricted means of entry or exit;
  • is large enough for a person to enter to perform tasks;
  • is not designed or configured for continuous occupancy;
  • has the potential for a significant hazard to be present.

Examples of these spaces are underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, pits and diked areas, storage vessels, silos and other similar areas. Confined spaces are inherently dangerous and unfortunately, many confined space industrial accidents have resulted in the death and injury of workers

As a result of these dangers, OSHA has strict regulations and procedures that must be followed when an individual must enter a confined space. These procedures are intended to reduce the risk of injury to an individual that must enter the space, but the increase in safety comes at a cost. They require additional manpower, equipment, training and administrative considerations to be safe and compliant with regulations for confined space entry.

The Capabilities and Benefits of Remote Video Inspection
A remote video inspection tool such as the Industrial Zoom Pole Camera from Zistos Corporation, allows the worker to make this visual assessment safely outside of the confined space without the need for entry. The camera system allows the operator to insert the camera into the confined space envelope and view/record the area and equipment for problems using a variety of different camera technologies, such as zoom, low light and even thermal imaging.

Cost Analysis
This required first step involving a visual assessment of conditions can be completed outside of the confined space. This has the benefit of increasing the safety and reducing the complexity and cost of the operation. If upon completion of the inspection phase it is determined that there are no obvious problems that require attention, the worker does not even need to enter the space.

In one application a cost analysis conducted on the use of this video inspection tool had a complete return on investment after less than 40 hours of use. This analysis did not even factor in any consideration to reduction of on the job injury or disability claims from confined space accidents.

The benefits of using a remote inspection tool such as the Zistos video inspection product to keep workers out of confined or dangerous spaces makes sense on every level. The tools facilitate the sound practice of exposing a worker to a potentially hazardous environment only when the need and safety of entry are confirmed following a visual assessment. The use of this approach benefits both the bottom line of an operation and helps insure the safety and well-being of the primary asset of any industrial concern – their employees.

For more information or to schedule a hands-on demonstration of any Zistos system, please visit or call (631) 434-1370.

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