During soldiers’ day-to-day operations, following proper safety procedures at all times is paramount. For troops with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, training was conducted to keep those who work in enclosed areas to protect themselves from a potential tighter spot.

The brigade’s soldiers attended confined space training April 7-11 at Hood Army Airfield.

During the training 20 soldiers received their certification in confined space training after a four-day block of instruction that taught them how to prevent harm to personnel and equipment, said Jorge Pena, an occupational safety and health administration instructor with Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services.

“This week we specifically focused on aircraft fuel cells, as I tailored the curriculum upon seeing my students were entirely Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache maintainers,” he said. “We really hit on how to enter into fuel cells, while minimizing exposure and hazards that could potentially cause injury.”

When dealing with confined spaces, safety regulations become imperative to follow, Pena said.

“Soldiers have to be able to identify hazards immediately,” he said. “Fuel cells are restricted by their size, which causes hazards to become magnified due to the enclosed space. The atmosphere can change dramatically in a close environment, which causes less time and quantity for a problem to arise. Even heat comes into play, as all elements will have issues quicker due to size constraints.”

During the week the brigade’s soldiers went through existing regulations with a fine tooth comb and compared them to standard federal regulations approved by OSHA in order to find potential short comings, Pena said.

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