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Open up to confined space training

Posted on November 1, 2022

By Steve Wallace

We’ve talked endlessly on these pages about the need to return people home safely at the end of their working day as well as the responsibility of delivering them at retirement age healthy enough
to enjoy it.

Well, here’s some news – these are subjects will continue to discuss ad infinitum, because they are that important.

Under domestic law (the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees and others. This responsibility is reinforced by regulations.

The training we carry out day in, day out at Courtley is very comprehensive and covers all areas of health and safety. Our state of the training centre in Kirkby is set up for all manner of situations, but what strikes everyone when they come into it, is the big blue tower in the middle of the room.

It’s there to create scenarios relating to confined spaces training. A confined space is one which is both enclosed, or largely enclosed, and which also has a reasonably foreseeable risk to workers of fire, explosion, loss of consciousness, asphyxiation or drowning. It may be small and restrictive for the worker or it could be far larger such as a grain storage silo with hundreds of cubic metre capacity.

Confined Spaces Regulations

As you would hope there is specific legislation for confined spaces. The 1997 regulations apply where an assessment identifies risks of serious injury from work in confined spaces and contain the following key duties:

  • avoid entry to confined spaces, eg: by doing the work from the outside;
  • if entry to a confined space is unavoidable, follow a safe system of work; and
  • put in place adequate emergency arrangements before work starts.

Additionally, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers and self-employed people to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks for all work activities for the purpose of deciding what measures are necessary for safety. For work in confined spaces this means identifying the hazards present, assessing the risks and determining what precautions to take.

The main reasons workers enter a confined space are usually to perform routine maintenance, repairs and inspections of that space. Yet each year a number of people are killed or seriously injured in the UK in confined spaces across a wide range of industries.

Confined spaces training at Courtley

Training is therefore vital – it’s both about raising awareness in people and giving them the skills for to be able to do something, and Courtley’s confined spaces training helps attendees mitigate or eliminate the risk of confined space injuries and fatalities. In other words, we tell them the do’s and the don’t’s!

Our training also extends to courses dealing with the rescue of individuals who have come into difficulty in a confined space. We also teach attendees how to use breathing apparatus which is appropriate for the environment.

At Courtley, in addition to the big blue distillation tower we also have sewer pipes (clean ones!) to ensure our training is effective and feels ‘live’.

A distillation tower is like a big sieve – product goes in at the top, passes through a series of grills which filter out impurities. Periodically, therefore a distillation tower will need cleaning. The nightmare scenario is if someone becomes trapped or collapses in the bottom of the tower while carrying out their tasks.

So, our ultimate confined spaces rescue course uses a full weight mannequin placed at the bottom of the tower and requires attendees to enter at the top, open up the grills and reach and rescue the ‘body’ in the tower’s pit.

This shouldn’t be work for the fire brigade. The theory with health and safety is that if you are creating the hazard then you should have enough in-house ability and resource to rectify any failure.

You shouldn’t be relying on the emergency services as part of your plan. In confined spaces those responsible for health and safety should ensure their teams have sufficient skill and knowledge to rectify most, if not all, situations.

In addition to rescue training, topics covered include safe working practices, legal requirements, and what control measures should be in place when working in an enclosed area.

Some of our training courses are divided into low risk environments, medium risk environments and high risk environments. If you are ensure which training you require please contact us for guidance.

You can also take a look at the individual confined spaces courses we offer here: Confined Space Training at

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