Church Crawl: Completing a DSS in a Confined Space

We’re looking back on some memorable stories from the past 20 years. Today, our Project Manager, Gerren, is recounting a time where the team had to complete an unexpected confined space entry.

The Client Request

In 2015, a client inquired if Premier could complete a Designated Substance Survey (DSS) at an operating church. This was no ordinary DSS however— the survey area included a below grade utility tunnel underneath the sanctuary portion of the church which required confined space entry to access.

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) defines a confined space as a fully or partially enclosed space that is not designed and constructed for continuous human occupancy and in which atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents or because of the work that is done in it.

The utility tunnel was accessible by a ladder, was approximately 1 m high, approximately 100 m in linear length, and contained various utilities for the church. Accessing this area required us to hire contractors who specialize in confined space entries to provide the necessary equipment, and roles as rescuer and observer.

The Premier Solution

Having the required confined space training, I was lucky enough to perform the inspection as the entrant! The entry consisted of the contractors setting up a tripod and winch over one of the entries and equipping me with a harness, 4-gas meter and radio.  After being connected to the winch, I was able to enter the tunnel and complete the ‘church crawl’ making observations and taking photos along the way. The atmospheric conditions were monitored continuously by the 4-gas metre I was wearing and monitored above grade by the contractors. Additionally, every 3-minutes they would radio me and I was required to give a verbal response that I was okay.

At the end of the day the DSS was completed successfully in a safe and interesting way! You never know what a typically routine inspection will consist of and Premier is always willing to go above and beyond to get the job done!