Confined spaces can pose a variety of different dangers to workers that are required to enter them. So, recognising the key dangers is the most important and effective form of defence. The majority of dangers that are present in confined space environments can have catastrophic implications and can sometimes even cause fatalities if procedures are not carried out, and precautions are not taken. It is therefore vital that businesses ensure that their staff are correctly trained to understand what dangers to look out for. Confined space training is the most effective way of educating workers on how to respond to dangerous situations and how to reduce the likeliness of them occurring.
What Is Defined As a Confined Space?
There is a lot more to defining a confined space that you might think. You might assume that confined spaces are just small enclosed areas however, they can include many different environments such as tunnels and large chambers. Essentially, a confined space is any space that is enclosed and can present a risk, whatever size it is. The identified risks in the Confined Space Regulations 1997 are as follows:
- Serious injury as a result of a fire, explosion or excess of oxygen.
- Loss of consciousness as a result of an increase in body temperature.
- Loss of consciousness or asphyxiation as a result of gas, fume, vapour or the lack of oxygen.
- Drowning from an increase in the level of liquid.
- Asphyxiation as a result of a free-flowing solid or the inability to reach a respirable environment due to entrapment.
(Reference: The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997)
What Are Main Dangers That Workers Could Face?
The potential dangers that workers can be confronted with are varied. The first step to take would be to identify whether a confined space is hazardous before anyone enters it and what risk it poses if a task was to go ahead. The person in charge of a team when it comes to working in a confined space needs to be certain whether there are flammable substances or oxygen enrichment present. They also need to check if there is excessive levels of heat, toxic gases, vapours and fumes and assess the possibility of the confined space filled with liquid during entry and while a task is being carried out. There may also be additional hazards that are present due to electrical equipment.
What If The Dangers Are Ignored?
If dangers are ignored when it comes to confined spaces, it can lead to injury and even death. If a business fails to protect its workers and ignore regulations in place, serious consequences will occur as punishment. It’s therefore critical for all business that requires their staff to work in confined spaces follow the Confined Space Regulations 1997. This includes conducting risk assessments, considering all potential dangers, taking action to ensure there are safety precautions in place before anyone enters a space and ensuring all personnel are fully trained.
Why Situation Training is So Important
Working in confined spaces can be overwhelming and scary at times sp preparation is the most important thing in order to avoid accidents and fatalities. Training providing a safe way of teaching workers what to expect in confined spaces before they enter them. Practising working in a simulated environment that represents real-life working conditions helps to prepare workers for when they are required to enter a confined space. Training is hugely beneficial for helping to build employee confidence before it comes to dealing with the real thing.
How Often Should Employees Be Trained?
Training is normally required periodically and will depend on a workers continued experience once they have completed their initial training course. Of course, each worker is different and may have different training needs, so it is important to look at the training records for each worker and to look for any issues that may need to be addressed. There are a wide range of confined space training solutions for businesses that operate in such environments including advice on the identification of confined space, to help with developing best practices and safe systems of entry and training packages that are relevant to specific environments within a confined space.