Soldiers in the 587th Signal Company, 52nd Signal Battalion, stationed in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, along with civilian personnel from the garrison safety and office and fire department, practiced entering a manhole on Patch Barracks as part of Confined Space Entry Training Sept. 23.
This training was the first in a series of events required for personnel who fall under Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines and enter confined spaces as part of their job, according to Justin Archbold, 52nd Signal Battalion safety officer.
“The Signal Battalions are kind of the driving force because we have so many confined spaces with all of our manholes and cable vaults,” said Archbold, a civilian. “The ability to safely accomplish the mission in these spaces is critical.”
There are 200 manholes in USAG Stuttgart alone, he added.
“They contain hazardous gases sometimes. There can be physical hazards like standing water. There can be environmental hazards like snakes, bugs, anything that can find its way into a hole,” he said.
But the most dangerous part is the lack of oxygen, which can be depleted below the required level for human survival (20 percent oxygen).
The training and equipment was provided by 5th Signal Command, which recently spent $160,000 equipping every signal battalion in Europe with confined space entry kits (enough gear for three people, including harnesses and helmets).