Confined Spaces Certification Renewed by GHA’s Facilities & Utilities Management Division


Recently the Facilities and Utilities Management (FUM) Division at Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) completed their annual confined spaces training. Focusing on safe and efficient entry into confined spaces, this specialized training program meets clear objectives. It is designed to thoroughly prepare participants for the unique challenges and hazards encountered in confined environments, ensuring a high standard of safety and competency. The training provides a thorough understanding of what constitutes a confined space, the potential risks involved, and the safety measures required to navigate these areas safely. This regular training is crucial for our team, as it sets the stage for a deeper comprehension and respect for the complexities of working in such environments.

Michael Grinnell, Director of FUM at GHA, emphasizes the significance of this yearly renewal. With more than 30 years of confined space certification, Grinnell highlights, “In our line of work, safety is paramount. This training helps ensure the safe conduct of all confined space operations. As our division expands, the need for continual awareness and skill refreshment becomes more and more critical.”

De-energizing hazardous energy sources is critical to the annual confined spaces training program. This involves the careful shutdown or isolation of potential hazards such as electrical, mechanical, or chemical energies before any entry into confined spaces. Taking these precautions ensures that equipment remains deactivated, significantly lowering accident risks and improving worker safety. “It’s a fundamental safety measure, ensuring that we mitigate any potential hazards before entering these confined spaces,” Grinnell adds. Effective communication within the team is important during the de-energizing process. This clear communication helps confirm every safety step is clearly understood and executed, verifying overall safety in these operations.


GHA Engineer Technician John Bolton stands next to an open manhole, wearing safety equipment, preparing to perform a manhole inspection.
GHA Engineer Technician John Bolton prepares to perform a manhole inspection.

Training Insights

This emphasis on clear, precise communication is fundamental to our approach, establishing that all team members are aligned and aware during every phase of the work. GHA Operations Superintendent Jean Scher commented on the importance of these skills, “Working in confined spaces requires impeccable teamwork and clear communication. It’s about making sure everyone works safely and efficiently.” Effective communication is essential not only within the team working directly in confined spaces but also with all other entities involved in the project. This includes coordinating with safety personnel, project managers, and emergency responders to ensure a seamless and safe operation. “It’s a multi-layered communication effort that forms the backbone of our safety protocols in confined spaces,” adds Senior Engineer Technician Paul Schafernak.

GHA Utility Operation Technician Rob Ulrich shared their insights on the training, “Every year, this training offers something new. This time, I gained a deeper understanding of confined spaces challenges when inspecting pipelining and coating projects, such as the necessity of a 20-minute emergency air pack and how crucial a proper second team member is for site observation in these setups.” This highlights the evolving nature of the training and its importance in keeping the team prepared for a variety of scenarios.

Our annual renewal of confined space certification is critical for tasks such as inspections in manholes, working in valve vaults, maintaining sewage wet wells, and managing reservoir storage tanks and deep excavation with high levels of risk. These real-world applications highlight the training’s importance, demonstrating how the training prepares our team for diverse and challenging tasks. GHA’s dedication to continuous learning and adaptation to safety standards sets a benchmark in the industry, reflecting our commitment to the well-being and safety of our team and clients.