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Room for Thought on Confined Space Working

24 July 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

A Derby company has responded to growing demand for specialist training for people working in confined spaces, including the death of two cousins of the Irish football player, Robbie Keane.

Develop Training, whose clients include utility companies, construction firms and FMs, reports it has already seen an increase in bookings for training in the confined spaces unit at its Ascot Drive headquarters. Due to this demand it is now taking a second, mobile confined spaces unit on the road with the first of a series of new sessions, in York which is an immediate sell out.

It is estimated that every year, deaths in confined spaces account for between 15 and 30 UK workplace fatalities. These occur across a wide range of industries, from those involving complex plant through simple storage vessels and include docks, mining and the sewage industry. The total number of people who die in workplace accidents totalled 142 in the year to March 2015, according to government figures.

In 2013, the Health and Safety Executive published new guidance on working in confined spaces, including safe systems of work and emergency procedures. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees and others. This responsibility is reinforced by regulations, including the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997.

There have been two tragic cases in the courts in June this year that have highlighted the issue:

  • In one, a Hampshire farm manager was jailed for the manslaughter of two workers who died after being sent into a nitrogen-filled apple container while holding their breath. The fruit farm where they worked was fined £75,000.

  • In the second case, an animal rendering and food waste recycling company in Leek, Staffordshire, was fined £660,000 after a worker from Stoke on Trent died when he was scalded by steam as he tried to fix an industrial cooker. 

“If you imagine being in a cramped space in the dark and needing to get out to avoid serious injury or death, it’s easy to see how panic can set in,” explained Lee Yearwood, Safety Training Delivery Manager, Develop Training. “The confined spaces unit allows workers to experience being in cramped and disorienting conditions in an emergency situation. We give course delegates potentially life-saving skills and guidance on how to prepare for working safely and how to deal with dangerous situations that could arise.” 

Picture: It is estimated that every year, deaths in confined spaces account for between 15 and 30 UK workplace fatalities

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 24 July 2015


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