Safety Story from a Structure Tone New York project manager:
When we started planning for the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, we knew we’d face several challenges during the project related to the age of the building. One critical challenge was maintaining worker safety within confined spaces, which is a space that’s large enough to bodily enter with limited entry and exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Once we determined the confined space would not have a hazardous atmosphere and didn’t require a permit, we focused on its restrictions.
Our scope required extensive work in restricted spaces to reroute power lines and mechanical piping throughout the 19th century structure. All workers were confined-space trained and equipped with specialized PPE, like reflective rope and retractable harnesses, in order to work in tunnels 26in in height and over 200ft long for months at a time.
The Structure Tone team required confined space permits, kept daily entry logs, and held pre-task planning meetings each day. We used multi-colored chem lights to mark the tunnel egress paths in the tunnels in the event of a power outage, and laborers used mechanic dollies to roll into and out of the spaces.
We worked closely with the NYC Fire Department to develop rescue plans in case of an emergency. Our consultant, Total Safety Consulting, along with NYFD Battalion 9 and Rescue 1, worked together to develop the rescue plan and perform rescue drills to prepare for the worst case. Fortunately, we had no emergencies during the project and their services were not required