A confined space is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as: ‘a place which is substantially enclosed (though not always entirely), and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby’. Around fifteen people are killed in confined spaces in the UK each year. A great number of people are seriously injured entering/exiting or working in confined spaces. So therefore, employers need to ensure, that the training they provide their workforce keeps them safe from harm.
Confined Space Work is 'safety critical' so this blog may be a little longer, but it sure is worth taking the time to read. I trust it helps you understand the importance of the highest quality training for your employees who are required to work in a 'Confined Space'.
The underpinning legislation including; The Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 places a legal duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all of his employees. The same legislation places a legal duty on employees to take reasonable care of their own health, safety and welfare. The law specific to Confined Spaces; The Confined Space Regulations (NI) 1999 refers to confined space safety and it places boundaries that employers and employees must stay within to ensure safety from the risks associated with entering, exiting and carrying out activities in confined spaces.
The law advises us to avoid entering the confined space, and if this is not possible to carry out a risk assessment of the task and to put in place controls to reduce the risk. The law dictates that the employer must provide initial and refresher training in order to keep workers safe when entering, exiting and working in confined spaces. The training must include having emergency procedures in place to exit the confined space safely, should that be necessary.
The content of the training will need to be determined by the type of confined space your workers are required to enter, exit and to carry out work in. Determining the level of risk will clarify the classification of confined space training you will require. It is not a case of one size fits all, if the level of risk is low, then a much less intensive course is required. See below examples:
Consult with your team – they will be able to tell you what kind of work they carry out in confined spaces, the equipment that will be used, and the nature of the confined space, who supervises the work and who will be carrying out the work there. You need to consult with someone who is totally competent to ensure that you get the right training for your delegates. If you have a health and safety officer, he/she should be part of the consultation process, but also include, and do not underestimate the knowledge of the person who carries out the work. After consultation, you should have a good understanding of the following:
Now you have sufficient information to enable you to contact training providers to ensure that they can meet your requirements. You should feel confident when you speak or correspond with the training provider, that they fully understand your needs. The training should be delivered by a highly qualified, competent and experienced instructor. Don’t be afraid to ask about the qualifications of the tutor. Don’t waste your training budget on courses that don’t meet your specific requirements.
Remember; this is not a box ticking exercise, you require the training to be totally relevant to your attendees and to have met your legal duty to potentially reduce the risks of injury associated with entering, exiting and working in or near to confined spaces. This is highly specialised training and the instructor will require the relevant qualifications, experience and competence to enable them to deliver a comprehensive course. Finding the right training provider is crucial. If you need recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Upon completion of the training candidates should have sufficient understanding of the risks associated with working in specific confined spaces by being able to;
Your training provider’s quality assurance system will have measured that the training was delivered to the highest quality and they have fully met their remit to teach your candidates how to keep themselves and others safe in and around confined spaces. The assessment process will have tested the competency of the candidates and your requirement to provide the highest quality of training for your employees has been accomplished.
We at NPTNI pride ourselves for being associated with the best health and safety training professionals in Northern Ireland so please feel free to ask for advice.
© 2021 Nicola Penman. All rights reserved.