Conquering confined spaces
Employers must ensure that employees are kept safe and secure in the workplace, which is rather tricky when a place of work is in a high-risk industry. Dangers should be clearly defined, as should plans that are devised to deal with them …
Danger takes on various forms and guises, from the possibility of tripping over a power cord at a desk to deadly gases found kilometres down a mine – but threats aren’t always understood. Confined spaces are a perfect example …
“One of the challenges is a lack of knowledge on what defines a confined space,” says Mike Zinn, marketing manager at Skyriders Access Specialists. “Many people have a preconceived idea of what these areas are – it has to be deep, dark, filled with gas and only have one door …”
A confined space is defined as an enclosed, restricted or limited space that includes any equipment, machinery or object in which dangerous liquids or concentration of gas, vapour, dust or fumes may be present.
Rudolf Lubbe, a specialist in confined spaces at Skyriders, adds that expertise in managing confined spaces is important in multiple industries, including, but not limited to municipalities, construction, oil and gas and power generation.
“Numerous workers are injured on an annual basis, as a result of exposure to dangerous substances in confined spaces. One of the biggest problems is inadequate training and experience to effectively deal with the dangers of confined spaces,” he explains.
“It is not only about how many people have been trained, but how many have the expertise to work in confined spaces and the compulsory back-up of a specially trained rescue team,” he adds.
Skyriders, together with Height Wise Training Academy – a dedicated work at height training provider owned by Skyriders – plans to offer accredited training in use of confined spaces in the near future.
“Many of our technicians work in confined spaces,” says Zinn. “We are also asked to assist clients with consultations and we have noticed that customers aren’t treating certain areas as confined spaces, for example, silos. We have become aware that there is a need for education and training.”
Skyriders has seen a demand, which it intends to fill. “We decided to offer a stand-alone service that includes training and consultation, but we will also take care of the rescue and gas analysis relating to confined spaces in order to help clients to keep their employees safe,” says Zinn.
He continues: “It is an industry that is going to grow. Many sectors have confined spaces where loss of life is a huge tragedy. When properly managed, however, fatalities or serious injuries should never occur in confined spaces …”
Lubbe adds: “I am confident that Skyriders will provide excellent services with regard to confined spaces. Our teams of technicians are highly qualified, trained and boast many years of relevant experience in the field.”