Is Confined Space Training Applicable In Your Workplace?

by BritanniaSafety on November 22, 2012

The Health and Safety Executive recently released their annual statistics showing that fatal accidents in the work place are steadily declining again (after a rise in 2010/11). A provisional figure for the number of workers fatally injured in 2011/12 is 173. Although this figure could be attributable to a number of causes it is worth taking a more in depth look at a part of health and safety training that can often be overlooked

What is a confined space?

Generally confined spaces can be defined as any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous material or dangerous conditions such as lack of oxygen.

When asked to name some examples confined spaces it is easy to come to the conclusion that they are mainly on construction sites, enclosed drains, sewers and storage tanks. They can however be found in far less obvious places, a poorly ventilated office for example. Some places may also become a confined space over time e.g if work is being carried out.

Risks to employees

In general most of the risks associated with working in confined spaces will arise from a lack of oxygen or the build up of poisonous gases and fumes. In these situations the most crucial thing to remember is ventilation.

There are some hidden dangers that it is worth taking note of however, liquids and solids may suddenly and unexpectedly fill the space or there might be an increase in air temperature that could be fatal. Before conducting any work in confined spaces it is necessary to look at what the law says and act appropriately.

What are your legal obligations?

As with every workplace the employer is bound by ‘The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999’ that states that they must carry out a thorough risk assessment for all work activities before embarking on putting safety measures into place.

If this initial risk assessment identifies any areas where there is a serious risk of injury from working in a confined space then employers are also bound to adhere to the ‘Confined Spaces Regulations, 1997’. These regulations highlight specific duties such as;

–       Avoid entry to confined spaces

–       If entry to a confirmed space is unavoidable, follow a safe system of work.

–       Put into place adequate emergency arrangements before starting work

These obligations are fully explained on the Health and Safety Executive’s website, to read more please follow this link: 

Confined space training

Confined spaces are best avoided; they throw up unexpected risks that can lead to serious injury. If such work is unavoidable in the workplace it is a good idea to undertake some form of confined space training that way you can be best equipped to deal with a dangerous situation should it arise.

About the author: Britannia Safety and Training is a health and safety construction trainer based in Norwich, Norfolk. With industry experienced experts, they can guide you through the confined space training course, making sure that you understand the practical elements so that you can work confidently and competently when back on-site.

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