Confined Spaces Training

Today jobs are sometimes difficult to come by and in today’s article; we are going to show you an area of the British economy of which you might not be aware of. Confined space jobs, these are jobs that require you to work in tight spaces and have specialized training in dealing with the dangers and hazards that come along with these kinds of jobs. You first must have a tolerance for enclosed space and not be claustrophobic.

small tunnel

After that, you need to get some training under your belt, learn the rules and regulations, and in many cases, a CSCS card is required as is a Confined Spaces Ticket. From there you have opened up a completely new venue of opportunity. You can receive good pay and have a job that is always in demand. If you like excitement, some of the types of job we will touch on today will tantalize your imagination. You must be warned however, some of these jobs are of a hazardous nature and must be undertaken with forethought and planning.

Definition

For those of you who are not aware confined space definition is defined as any area where you are confined to an often-small area that may be cramped and uncomfortable. For a more formal definition, you can look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confined_space.

It also may be an area where Oxygen must be supplied to you, as the environment is considered too dangerous for human beings to breathe or work in. Many consider these jobs highly hazardous, however today working in cramped conditions is stock in trade for many professions today many of them quite lucrative in the amount of pay you can receive. Without further ado, let us look into the world of tiny tight work places.

Types of Jobs

There are many jobs today that require working in confined spaces, many of them are now considered quite mundane nowadays. Many of them you already very familiar with, such as:

  • Labourers
  • Confirmed Space Operative – CP1 & CP2
  • London Underground
  • Search & Rescue workers
  • Firemen
  • Police
  • Rescue Technician
  • Security and Safety Officers
  • Painters, interior
  • The Construction and Building trades
  • Furniture finishing
  • The Mining trade
  • Shipyard work
  • Water and Sewer Inspectors
  • Electrical and Telephone cable repairmen
  • Chemist
  • Petroleum research
  • Plant workers
  • Aircrew
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Military personnel in all the services

Confined space jobs are now more exotic and diverse nowadays as well with:

  • Confined Space Technician
  • Water Mitigation Technician
  • Reliability Engineer
  • Astronaut
  • Radiological workers in Nuclear power plants
  • Doctors
  • EOD
  • Counterterrorism Specialists
  • Biological research
  • Hazmat or Toxic Waste cleanup
  • Infectious disease investigation, isolation, and control
  • Clean room workers
  • Aircraft industry
  • Tanning spray-booth operators
  • Vehicle painting/detailing
  • Electronic assembly work

Safety and Hazards

working in confined spaces

Safety is the first thing you learn about when you decide to take up any of these types of jobs. Equipment can always be replaced but a human life cannot. This is why you must always mentally be doing a confined space risk assessment in your mind as you work.

  • Locations of all exits
  • Location of Emergency Breathing equipment
  • Location of First Aid other safety gear
  • Proper ventilation
  • Mask filters are fresh
  • Making sure all safety equipment is in good working order
  • Oxygen apparatus is fully charged
  • Your airlines are unobstructed
  • Clear access in and out of the area
  • Stay times

Confined space safety starts with you and is your responsibility. The hazards of these jobs are many and often include the dangers of:

  • Fire
  • Smoke
  • Poisonous gases
  • Inert gases, which displace your oxygen
  • Zero visibility
  • Cave in
  • Explosion
  • Flooding
  • Radiation

You may be called upon at some point to perform emergency confined space rescue if any of the above events occur. Here your training and mettle will be put to the test as you are racing the clock to find and evacuate your mates, who may be injured or have succumbed to smoke inhalation or other injuries incurred in an accident or the now real threat of an act of terrorism.

Rules and Regulations

confined space rescue

In place since the 1960’s the Confined spaces regulations 1997, have clarified the confined space regulations greatly for working in these kinds of environments. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/L101.htm

Such things like confined space entry, training, supervision, and fines/penalties for violations.

Such was the case in Dec 1997 when 2 Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council employees were killed in enclosed spaces at a sewage pumping station in October of that same year. Fines were levied against the Concil on two charges. http://gov-news.org/gov/uk/news/warning_confined_space_working_following/102.html

In 1999, they were further revamped in to incorporate new types of workspaces. They also further defined

Laws and Assessments

Quoted from the HSE Guide to working in Confined spaces “You must carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks for all work activities to decide what measures are necessary for safety (under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 3). For work in confined spaces, this means identifying the hazards present, assessing the risks and determining what precautions to take. In most cases the assessment will include consideration of:

  • The task;
  • The working environment;
  • Working materials and tools;
  • The suitability of those carrying out the task;
  • Arrangements for emergency rescue
  • It goes on to specify that you should avoid entering confined spaces
  • You need to check if the work can be done another way to avoid entry or work in confined spaces
  • Better work-planning or a different approach can reduce the need for confined space working.

Ask yourself if the intended work is really necessary, or could you:

Modify the confined space itself so that entry is not necessary;

Have the work done from outside, for example:

blockages can be cleared in silos by use of remotely operated rotating flail devices, vibrators or air purgers

Inspection, sampling and cleaning operations can often be done from outside the space using appropriate equipment and tools;

Remote cameras can be used for internal inspection of vessels.

Health and Safety Systems

small cave rescue

If you cannot avoid entry into a confined space, make sure you have a safe system for working inside the space.

Use the results of your risk assessment to help identify the precautions you need to

take to reduce the risk of injury. These will depend on the nature of the confined

space, the associated risk and the work involved.

Make sure that the safe system of work, including the precautions identified, is developed and put into practice. Everyone involved will need to be properly trained and instructed to make sure they know what to do and how to do it safely.

The following checklist from the 1999 changes are not intended to be exhaustive, but includes many of the essential elements to help prepare a safe system of work.

Appointment of a supervisor

Supervisors should be given responsibility to make sure that the necessary precautions are taken, to check safety at each stage and may need to remain present while work is underway.

  • Are people suitable for the work?
  • Isolation of electrical and mechanical systems
  • Cleaning before entry
  • Check the size of the entrance
  • Provision of ventilation
  • Testing the air
  • Provision of special tools and lighting
  • Provision of breathing apparatus
  • Preparation of emergency arrangements
  • Provision of rescue harnesses
  • Communications
  • Check how the alarm is raised
  • Is a ‘permit-to-work’ necessary?

You can see with the additional provisions for this type of work has become more regimented and structured than in the past. Safety is the prime concern here and was often ignored in the name of expediency.

Training

underwater confined spaces using breathing apparatus

Breathing apparatus training is a critical part of training to work in enclosed areas. You have to learn how to don, clear your mask, and get emergency apparatus on and delivering oxygen in seconds.

For some areas noted elsewhere, it’s mandatory to wear the proper gear at all times while working in limited areas.

Confined space training requires hard work and a dedication to excellence, formal classes are intermixed with practical skills and often OJT, Journeymen, or apprenticeship work is required.

Qualifications are stringent and constant attention to detail and the safety regulations is required to be able to do this type of work. Written tests and certifications are given after a candidate has completed mandatory classroom work.

Classroom work is only part of the big picture. You must demonstrate that you have mastered these skills before you pass your final qualifications and are certified to work on ships, inside tanks, and other areas where access is limited

CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) cards are a requirement to work these and any other construction related jobs in the UK and training is available for those who wish to partake of it.

Breaking information ******* As of July 2014 this year things are changing and you now need to have a QCF level 1 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment.

There are many types of CSCS cards avail bile and you can see them here and decide which suits you the best.

True Story of when things can go wrong

An actual event that occurred while working on board a nuclear submarine in dry dock is a prime example of working in tight places, ventilation systems are usually shut off and air can only reach you in the compartment from a limited number of openings in the hull via blowers and plastic ductwork.

A welder’s torch touched off some hydraulic oil and almost immediately, the compartment was filled with smoke. Visibility was down to zero and the oxygen was being used up at prodigious rate. The lives of the workers in the compartment were now in dire jeopardy.

The fire watch was wearing an emergency breathing system as was able to activate it in seconds. With his vision clear and able to breath, he was able to use his fire extinguisher to put out the blaze. The Welder was able to use his mask as well and after securing his welding equipment, made his way to an open hatchway and safety.

The entire event from time of initial flare-up to fire out took only 2 minutes.

The followup investigation took days to complete and corrective actions were implemented after the final report was issued.

The speed with which the situation was controlled is an example of what can happen. The quick reactions of the people involved were only possible, because each person was able to get their Emergency Breathing gear in place in less than 30 seconds. You can only do this is if you are properly trained and practice for events of this nature.

Why would you want a job like this?

aircraft fireman

Pride is often cited by the people who work in these hazardous fields. You can do a job that few can. That alone is often reward enough to those who work in close quarters, with risk to life, and serious injury every day on the job.

High pay is probably an even better answer to others, because any job that requires this level of expertise, commands a much higher wage than ordinary jobs. The risks involved, continuous training, and experience are rewarded by a larger paycheck in many cases.

A third answer for some is the excitement of the job itself, adventure, and the prospect of travel to different parts of the world, as you have skills that are in demand from The steeps of Asia, to the deserts of the Sahara, or possibly at sea on an oil rig.

Who knows you may also find yourself working in a Low Earth Orbit, a lunar base in the next 10 years or so, and perhaps your son or daughter will be working on Mars. The possibilities are endless if you have desire, the right skills, and training. You might also want to check out our page on working at heights.

You can have a job and career that offers steady work and pay along with the knowledge you are doing a job that few can perform and with this comes pride in accomplishment.