Confined space access is a specialized form of access work which requires at the very least a trained, qualified and competent crew to deal with the exacting safety requirements involved in not only installing the scaffolding to access and work within the restricted area, but the understanding of the need to create and test the recovery points and lifts of the associated rescue plan for the confined space.
Confined spaces can be found in many work environments, and can include underground sewers, wells, shafts (Not Active Mines) Tunnels, tanks, pits pipes, chimneys and a variety of other enclosed or partially enclosed structures.
Confined spaces can be any of the following:
- A space at risk of engulfment (water, fire, gas etc.)
- A space without a safe oxygen level
- A space with airborne contaminants (vapours, dusts or gases that may cause injury or are highly combustible)
- A space that is not intended or designed to be occupied by a person
- A space that is designed or intended to be a partial or full vacuum whilst a person is in the space.
- A space that either contains or could contain during the intended work a harmful concentration of airborne contaminants that are not designed for these activities. (From Blasting, welding, burning etc.)
Unfortunately, statistics indicate that around half of the confined space fatalities are rescuers who are attempting to remove others during confined space emergencies. This would point to a lack of experience, equipment or training.
Confined space rescues often involve complex rope rescue systems, utilising breathing apparatus and gas detection equipment. To ensure that you have a tried and tested capability to rescue injured personnel during confined space emergencies, ensure that you put in confined space rescue plans, conduct appropriate confined space rescue training and regularly carry out confined space emergency response exercises.
As a provider of Confined space scaffolding access, Mr Scaffold personnel have an understanding of the hazards associated with working in a confined space. They are familiar with and experienced in the use of the control measures implemented for their protection. Finally, they are aware of the details of the confined space entry permit for each site they attend.
Mr Scaffold regularly conducts training in the procedures to ensure each member is up-to-date with the equipment and procedures that are relevant to all sites. A specific briefing is held before commencement of any confined space activity to ensure the entire team is aware of the site specific details such as:
- The lay out of the site and surrounding area,
- The contents of the Confined space entry permit and any special conditions,
- The exact nature of all hazards particular to the site,
- The control measures in place
- The full scope and content of the emergency procedures,
- A test of all PPE to be used for the site.
No matter who you use for your Confined space access, please ensure that the site is set up properly for emergency rescue operations, and that your site is going to be safe for all concerned.