Confined Space Entry for Bridge Inspection in Tuscaloosa

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Video Industrial Services

Video Industrial Services (VIS) received an unusual call from a regular customer. The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) does biennial inspections of all the state’s bridges to ensure there are no signs of structural fatigue or failure. A recent addition to their interstate system was an arch suspension crossing in Tuscaloosa. To fully inspect the condition, entrants would need to traverse the interior of the eight hollow box girders that support the bridge deck. The ALDOT had seen VIS regularly make confined space entry (CSE) to inspect, clean, and repair their storm sewer infrastructure, and asked if we could assist in keeping their entrants safe.

The job had a few hurdles; the work had to be done at night, during the weekend, and might take three consecutive nights to complete. Alone, none of the divisions of VIS (Industrial, Municipal, and Rehabilitation) had available personnel to cover all three nights. To complete the work, two rotating crews comprised of members from all three divisions were scheduled. Angie Masters (VIS Safety Director) canceled her Friday night plans and met with our first crew (confined space attendants), our project manager, the local fire department (confined space rescue), ALDOT and the bridge’s designer (entrants). Angie ensured the written plan provided by ALDOT met the needs of the site, and added additional measures based on the conditions and some concerns raised by the confined space rescue team. The project manager met with the following shift changes, relayed the details Angie specified, and stayed for enough time to ensure the new crew had no questions and was confident in the process.

While we had the resources on hand to ventilate the space, those additional measures were not needed. The meticulous records of the crew report no CO, Comb/Ex, or H2S; and a O2 variance of only 20.2 to 20.8. It was a lot of planning and supervision for a low volume of work, but it was great opportunity to refresh our team on confined place entry procedures and support a customer that trusts us with a much greater volume of their maintenance needs.