Construction Health and Safety: Working in Confined Spaces (Guest Post)

In the UK, the construction and maintenance industries remain consistently one of the largest employers, with the current figures showing that over 2 million people work in this industry every day. However, it is one of the most hazardous places to work, with construction workers facing a variety of risks and dangers as they carry out their tasks on a daily basis.  Therefore, without the correct education, training and awareness, working in this environment can be potentially dangerous. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the authority which lays down the health and safety law in the UK, gives regulations on a variety of construction areas to make sure that workers’ wellbeing and health is looked after properly by their employers.

When working in the construction and maintenance industry you may be faced with working in a confined space – especially if you work on the docks, or in the sewage or mining industries. In January of 1998, the Confined Spaces Regulation came into force in the UK, which set out the legislation surrounding Health and Safety in these circumstances.

The HSE gives the following definition of a “confined space”: any place, including chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe sewer, flue, well or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk ( Due to the nature of the environment, it can be very dangerous to work in as there are many volatile characteristics to a confined space, for example, lack of oxygen, presence of gas or fumes, liquids which can suddenly rise in level or free flowing solids. With these risks present, there is no wonder that the HSE has a specific guidelines regarding working in a confined space.

The legislation states that every employer or self-employed person must ensure compliance with the regulations and the only way to do this is to make sure that those working in the environment understand the regulations and can recognise the risks involved in work of this nature. The issue with a large company is that you may not always be present to oversee the work, which is why a good education for your staff members is crucial – this is where construction training comes into the fray.

The confined space training course is one which is popular in the construction training category. On average, there are 15 fatalities each year following work in a confined space, and by ensuring that the HSE regulations are abided by, and that each and every worker, manager and supervisor is aware of their duties and how they should work this figure can hopefully be reduced.

A Construction Training Confined Space Course allows employers to ensure they are working within legislation guidelines, ensuring that their staff are trained in the risks which they may face when working in this environment. The courses are thorough and cover all elements from the definition of a confined space, to safe systems of work, how to identify hazards to safety equipment and form emergency procedures to access. You’ll usually find that there will be a short test at the end of the training session which is proof that you have digested and understood the information given to you.  It is also worth noting that there are different courses for the varying staff levels – from worker all the way up to site supervisors, as each has a different type of responsibility when working onsite.

Bio: Rebecca Field is writing on behalf of Britannia Safety and Training, a company offering construction training near Norwich in Norfolk, UK. Their industry experienced experts and purpose built training facility are designed to make your construction training course experience the best you can wish for. Visit their website here:  to find out more.

Thanks, Rebecca, for sharing this important information with us.  OSHA also has the same description and regulations for persons workin in confined spaces.  There should always be someone present watching workers in case of emergency, and those workers should have the proper personal protective equipment, such as respirators, hardhats, and other safety items. 

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