For workers, confined spaces are one of the most dangerous environments to work in due to reduced visibility, limited space for mobility and reduced access to oxygen. A confined space includes any enclosed or partially enclosed space that is not designed or intended to be occupied by a person and is considered a risk because of the atmosphere, contaminants and engulfment. Examples of confined spaces include tankers, certain types of excavations or trenches, drainage or sewerage pipe and crawl spaces.
Last year, in Queensland, two men at a Sarina transport company were found dead inside a molasses tank. Investigations revealed that the men were affected by fumes while cleaning the tank. One of the primary causes of such accidents in Australian workplaces is the lack of confined space training. Based on a report by Fire and Safety Australia, a shocking 92 per cent of confined space fatalities in workplaces in Western Australia were due to inadequate training. Research also reveals inadequate knowledge of working in confined spaces to be a secondary cause of such accidents and fatalities. If your business requires workers to enter or work in confined spaces, it is imperative to invest in confined space training not only for the safety of your workers but also your business. Training should be provided to workers who:
- Enter or work in confined spaces
- Undertake hazard identification or risk assessment in relation to a confined space
- Implement risk control measures
- Issue entry permits
- Act as a standby person or communicate with workers in a confined space
- Monitor conditions while work is being carried out
- Buy equipment for confined space work
- Design or lay out a work area that includes a confined space
Unfortunately, accidents happen despite your best efforts to keep the workplace safe but training staff on best work health and safety practices can help to reduce the chances of accidents from occurring. Here are 7 reasons why your business needs confined space training:
- Identifying Risks and Hazards
Confined spaces are characterized by risks and hazards, some of which are not visible to the naked eye. With proper confined space training, your workers will be able to minimize these risks by identifying potential hazards and reporting them to their supervisors. Some hazards associated with confined spaces include:
- Harmful airborne contaminants such as build-up of hydrogen sulphide in sewers and pits and vapours from paints, adhesives, solvents or cleaning solutions.
- Unsafe oxygen levels – For instance, oxygen can be displaced by gases produced during biological processes such as methane in a sewer.
- Fire and explosion – For example, an explosion is likely to occur if an ignition source such as a sparking electrical tool or static on a person is introduced into a space containing a flammable atmosphere.
- Handling Emergencies
A clear differentiator between a worker that has undergone confined space training to someone who has not is how they respond in an emergency such as a gas leak or a fire. The steps a worker takes in such a situation could make the difference between life and death. One of the key steps to take in an emergency is to remain calm and composed – often times, only trained workers are able to do this. Understanding what to watch out for when working in confined spaces and how to get out of danger safely is vital for your workers.
- Business Compliance
Due to the inherent danger of working in confined spaces, the Australian government requires workers and supervisors of these workers to undergo confined space training. As a business, you will have legal obligations to meet such as ensuring that those who work in confined spaces have the necessary qualifications and certificates before they even commence work as well as having clear confined space procedures in place. Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, the person conducting the business or undertaking has the primary duty of care to ensure the safety of workers. The designers of equipment and structures have a responsibility to limit the need for entry into confined spaces. Therefore, if you are a small business conducting work in confined spaces, it would be beneficial to register your workers and supervisors to an accredited confined space training course to ensure your business is legally compliant, subsequently protecting your business from fines, lawsuits or a public relations disaster.
- Save Money in the Long Run
For a business, your worker’s safety and making profit should be two of your most important priorities. Fortunately, they are not mutually exclusive and by ensuring your workers are properly trained to work in confined spaces, you will save money in the long run. Accidents in the workplace will set you back in sick leave and even in court costs in worst case scenarios. A few hundred dollars in confined space training per worker will potentially save you thousands of dollars if not millions in the long run.
- Encouraging Leadership
If an employee demonstrates positive leadership skills, it may be a worthwhile enrolling them in a confined space training course to further develop their skill set and add value to your business. By learning about different equipment, toxic gases and enhancing their technical capabilities, the benefits of training can truly trickle down to the rest of the team. This will increase safety outcomes for not only your workers but for the entire business.
- Give Yourself a Peace of Mind
As a business owner, your attention is needed for different parts of the business every single day. By enlisting your workers in a confined spaces training course, you will have one less thing weighing on your mind.
Our nationally accredited confined space training course is taught by qualified and experienced trainers at our high quality facilities in the South West of WA, Perth Metro area and Victoria. The course is designed to give participants the necessary skills and knowledge to enter and work in confined spaces in various roles. To find out how we can help your business, please click here or call 1800 487 246.