At Kenward, safety is our top priority. We understand that construction projects often involve working in confined spaces, which can pose unique and serious hazards. This blog post aims to equip you with essential knowledge to navigate these environments safely and effectively.

Understanding Confined Spaces

A confined space is any area that is enclosed or partially enclosed, with limited entry and exit points, and has the potential for hazardous atmospheres or engulfment hazards. On construction sites, examples include: Tanks, Sewers, Silos, Pits, Pipes, Ductwork and Trenches.

Common Risks Associated with Confined Spaces:

  • Lack of Oxygen: Before construction begins, thorough analysis of the soil, underlying bedrock, and local wind patterns is crucial. This information guides the design and selection of the most suitable foundation type.

  • Poisonous Gases, Fumes or Vapour: The presence of toxic substances, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, or methane, can be lethal. Exposure can lead to various health issues, including headache, dizziness, unconsciousness, and even death.

  • Flooding or Engulfment: Some spaces may suddenly fill with liquid or free-flowing solids, engulfing anyone inside, leading to drowning, suffocation, or being crushed by the weight of the engulfing material.

  • Fire and Explosions: The build-up of flammable gases or vapors can lead to fires or explosions.
  • Access and Egress Issues: The limited entry and exit points of confined spaces can make escape difficult in emergencies. Narrow openings, ladders, or the need for specialised equipment to enter or exit can delay emergency response and increase the risk of injury during evacuation.

The DO’s and DON’Ts When Working In Confined Spaced

DO

Have a Safe System of Work:

Avoid entering confined space. If you cannot avoid entry, ensure a sufficient assessment of the risks is carried out and a safe system of work is in place, understood and followed.

Ensure adequate emergency arrangements are in place prior to starting.

Make Sure You are Suitable Trained:

Ensure all individuals have sufficient experience and training in both the works and use of any emergency equipment.

Ensure Proper Ventilation:

Always ensure that the space has adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of hazardous atmospheres.

Implement a Buddy System:

Never work alone in a confined space; always ensure that communication with a lookout or rescue team is possible.

DON’T

Ignore the Risks:

It may be safe one day but this does not mean it will always be. Conditions in confined spaces can change rapidly; continuously monitor the environment and be prepared to exit immediately if necessary.

Always have a clear and practiced plan for emergencies, including swift evacuation and rescue strategies.

Neglect Appropriate PPE & Safety Equipment:

Skipping on proper PPE or safety equipment can turn a manageable situation into a disaster.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be selected based on the identified risks and might include respirators, harnesses, and gas detectors.

While the above list offers some key points, THERE MAY BE MORE CONSIDERATIONS TO BE LOOKED AT, ALL RISKS SHOULD BE ASSESSED PRIOR TO STARTING WORK.