Working in confined spaces is a high risk working environment.
Any significantly enclosed space where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances, lack of oxygen or other dangerous conditions is classed as a confined space. Confined spaces with small openings such as silos, drains, sewers and storage tanks are fairly obvious. Others are not. Ductwork, vats, open-topped chambers may be less obvious.
Before working in confined space commences, certain steps should be taken. All hazards present must be identified and the risks assessed. This information should then be used to determine what precautions are needed and safety procedures developed (including emergency rescue).
If working in confined spaces can be avoided – it should be avoided.
According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Confined Spaces) Regulations 2001, Regulation 5 states that:
A person shall not carry out work in Confined Spaces if it is reasonably practicable that it could be avoided.
If the work must be carried out Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment must be carried out prior to the work commencing.
A person shall not enter a confined space unless there is a system of work in place that has been planned, organised, performed and maintained so as to render that work safe and without risk to health.
Anyone entering a confined space must be provided with appropriate information, training and instruction appropriate to the particular characteristics of the proposed work activities.
Before working in confined space commence, the following should be considered:
If someone is working in a confined space, think about the following:
The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA) has a very useful info page titled Working in Confined Spaces. This page covers some of the most frequently asked questions about working in confined spaces.
As The Irish Times reported; on June 10th, 2015 brothers Alan (45) and Stephen Harris (32) were overcome by fumes while working in an underground sewer at Drumnigh Woods, Portmarnock, Co Dublin. They were taken from the sewer and taken to hospital but unfortunately died of hypoxia due to toxic levels of hydrogen sulphide.
The brothers were wearing wader boots and rain jackets and Stephen Harris was wearing a dust mask.
A toxic gas incident that claimed the lives of two brothers almost killed a fireman attempting to rescue them.
Health and Safety Authority inspector Frank Kerins said the job required specialist equipment in accordance with confined space regulations, including a gas detector and breathing apparatus.
Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.
Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.
This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.
Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.
To find out more, please check our Courses page.
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