Title:
Confined space barrier
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A confined space barrier comprises panels that secure into the entry into a confined space. The barrier provides an additional safeguard beyond the door or cover into the confined space, preventing accidental and unauthorized access into the confined space. The panels are adjustable horizontally to accommodate numerous entry widths.



Inventors:
Stilson, Daniel W. (Fort Worth, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/273837
Publication Date:
07/20/2006
Filing Date:
11/15/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B19/14
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Primary Examiner:
OLSON, LARS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael A. O'Neil, P.C. (Dallas, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A barrier preventing access into a confined space defined by an opening comprising: an outer panel; an inner panel; and means for securing the two panels in the opening defining the confined space.

2. The barrier according to claim 1 wherein the outer panel and inner panel are fabricated of rigid plastic material.

3. The barrier according to claim 1 wherein the outer panel and inner panel are fabricated of aluminum.

4. The barrier according to claim 1 wherein a warning label is affixed onto the outer panel.

5. The barrier according to claim 1 wherein a warning label is printed onto the outer panel.

6. The barrier according to claim 1 wherein the means used to secure the outer panel and inner panel into the confined space opening are multiple threaded fasteners and nuts.

7. The barrier according to claim 1 wherein the means used to secure the outer panel and inner panel into the confined space opening are C-clamp devices.

Description:

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

Applicant claims priority based on provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/628,370 filed Nov. 16, 2004, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to industrial safety, and more particularly to a confined space barrier that secures in the entryway to a confined space to prevent unapproved or unintended entry.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The Navy defines a confined space as a space too small or narrow for an average sized person to turn around in. OSHA defines a confined space as a space with a configuration that hinders the movement and activities of a worker who must enter, work in, or exit the space. Often, employees who work in confined spaces are at an increased risk of exposure to serious hazards such as entrapment, asphyxiation, or close proximity to moving parts of machinery. Entry into confined spaces requires approval. Additionally, certain precautions are required, such as having respiratory safety equipment on hand and having an additional person or persons positioned outside of the confined space while a person is inside the confined space to provide rescue or assistance to the person inside if needed.

On a naval vessel, doorways and hatches may lead to a dangerous area. Some of these doors and doorways may be labeled and some may not. Additionally, the doors may be left open to facilitate ventilation into certain areas. A person may open an unlabeled door or enter through a door left open and not realize that they are entering a confined space. Without proper warning, the person may enter, suffer injury or cause damage, and be unable to exit the space. There are currently no safeguards to prevent a person from entering a confined space after the door has been opened.

On industrial sites and naval bases, there are many equipment rooms, in-ground equipment and storage compartments, shafts, wells, manholes, and similar spaces that are confined spaces. Often the openings or covers to these confined spaces may need to be opened or removed without any intent to enter the confined space, but if the worker breaks the plane of the ground or entryway, they are considered as having entered the confined space. There are currently no safeguards to prevent these and other accidental entries into these confined spaces.

The present invention comprises a confined space barrier which overcomes the foregoing and other difficulties which have long since characterized the prior art. In accordance with the broader aspects of the invention, the barrier is positioned inside the entry of a confined space providing a safeguard against accidental or unauthorized entry into the confined space whether the door or covering has been left open for ventilation, opened accidentally, or removed for an approved purpose when no entry is intended.

In accordance with more specific aspects of the invention, the confined space barrier has two panels that secure into the entry frame behind the door or covering. Once the door or cover to the confined space is opened, the barrier must be removed before someone can access the confined space. The panels slide together and are adjusted horizontally to the width of the opening. The panels are then fastened together to hold them securely within the entry frame. For an additional safeguard, a printed warning or warning label may be printed or placed onto the front of the both panels giving notice that the compartment is a confined space.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present invention may be had by reference to the following Detailed Description when taken in connection with the accompanying Drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of the present invention in use;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged, exploded perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is top view of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings, and particularly to FIG. 1 thereof, there is shown a naval vessel 20 with a barrier 22 installed into a doorway 24. The doorway 24 comprises a door 26 secured to a frame 28 on hinges 30. The frame 28 has jambs 32 and 34 on opposite sides thereof.

Referring to FIG. 2, there is shown an exploded view of the barrier 22. The barrier 22 comprises an outer panel 40 and an interior panel 42. The outer panel 40 faces outward from the confined space such that when the door 26 to the confined space is opened, the outer panel 40 is visible to the entering person(s). Both the outer panel 40 and the inner panel 42 may be fabricated of a rigid plastic material or metal, such as 5052 Aluminum having 0.050 inch or 0.080 inch thickness. Both the outer panel 40 and inner panel 42 are flanged on one end to conform to the shape of the door jambs 32 and 34. Horizontal slots 44 are cut into the outer panel 40 near the top and bottom. The inner panel 42 has openings 46 at the top and bottom thereof corresponding to the location of the slots 44 in the outer panel 40. The openings 46 accommodate fasteners 48 which are inserted through the openings 46 in the inner panel 42 and secured on the outside of the outer panel 40 by a locking nuts 50. When the outer panel 40 and inner panel 42 are extended until the flanged end of the outer panel 40 is flush into door jamb 34 and the flanged end of the inner panel 42 is flush into door jamb 32, the panels are secured in place by fasteners 48 and nuts 50. The shown embodiment employs fasteners 48 comprising bolts that secure to nuts 50. The present invention may also employ other suitable threaded fasteners and locking nuts known to those skilled in the art. C-clamps or other suitable clamping devices may also be used in the practice of the present invention.

The panels 40 and 42 are adjustable to accommodate the width of standard door frames 24 and entryways into confined spaces on naval vessels, standard manhole openings, shaft openings, and a number of other entry widths into confined spaces. A warning label 52 may be affixed or printed on the front of the outer panel 40 which may include text such as “Caution, Confined Space, Permit required for entry” and other phrases approved by OSHA and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). A warning label may also be placed or printed on the inner panel 42 for additional warning.

Referring to FIG. 3, there is shown a top view of the outer panel 40 and inner panel 42 as they are secured together.

Alternative to using the barrier 22 in the entry of a confined space protected by a door, the barrier 22 is also used in entry ways into other confined spaces, including manholes, equipment compartments, shafts, and other small compartments that classify as confined spaces. The barrier 22 may be adjusted to a number of widths and both the outer panel 40 and inner panel 42 are curved at each end to accommodate round openings as well as rectangular openings such as the doorway 24 shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

Another embodiment of the current invention comprises a slot on the inner panel 42 that corresponds in size and location to the slot 44 on the outer panel 40. Two or more fasteners are employed in each slot 44. The invention may employ fasteners such as carriage bolts and locking wing nuts or other suitable threaded fasteners and locking nuts known to those skilled in the art. C-clamps or other suitable clamping devices may also be used in the practice of the present invention.

Another alternate embodiment of the present invention comprises two panels that are hinged on each end and open in the center rather than being pulled apart. A piano hinge connects the flanged molding to the panel, enabling the panels to swing open. The flange will be affixed into the door frame by threaded fasteners or other suitable fasteners known to those skilled in the art. The two panels will be secured in the center by a locking pin or other similar fastening device known to those skilled in the art.

Although preferred embodiments of the invention have been illustrated in the accompanying Drawings and described in the foregoing Detailed Description, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed, but is capable of numerous rearrangements, modifications, and substitutions of parts and elements without departing from the spirit of the invention.