Working Safely in Closed Spaces

Working in confined spaces is common in the construction and maintenance industries. It is a risky affair. Every year there are many fatalities all over the world that are suffered by people working in closed spaces. To avoid loss of life it is important to get confined space training.

Possible risks

Confined spaces usually contain a specific health hazard, it could be heat, poisonous or toxic gas, the risk of cave-ins, flooding or falling. This is because confined spaces are not designed for human occupation and they are not easy to enter or exit. Some injuries that can be suffered when working in a confined space include; Suffocation, gas poisoning, fainting due to excessive heat, allergic reaction, physical injury due to falling and falling objects

What to learn

When workers are working in such spaces they should be able aware of the threats around them and take precautions that will ensure their safety.

Confined space training usually equips them with the following skills:

  • Testing of air in the confined space to detect gasses like carbon monoxide, excess or insufficient oxygen and other poisonous air.
  • Protective measures they can take depending on the particular hazard present at the confined space.
  • What kind of equipment to use or not to use depending on the hazard present in the confined space. These include gas testing equipment, ventilation and air movers, harnesses, protective gear and first aid equipment.
  • Some of these items focus on preventing injury while others focus on first aid and emergency evacuation for an injured person.
  • First aid skills: workers should be able to take care of an injured colleague till medics arrive.
  • How to safely enter and exit
  • Respiratory protection to prevent poisoning and suffocation
  • Procedures to follow when an incident occurs.
  • How to minimise risk by observing their surroundings.

Closed space training is either conducted in classes or online depending on suitability. Workers need to be aware of all these risks at their places of occupation. This will help reduce any accidents in confined spaces. They should have the ability to respond to any incidents in a manner which does not expose them to further risks.

More importantly, they can help save the lives of colleagues who are involved in an accident. When this happens there are fewer costs accrued by the organisation.

This can be achieved through closed space training which is usually provided by experts in occupational safety. There are safety standards set by the government to guide companies on occupational safety and one of the requirements is that workers are trained well on how to work in confined spaces.