If you conduct any type of work or projects in construction zones, here is why your workers need to be specially trained to work in confined spaces.
What is a Confined Space?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a confined space is defined through the following characteristics:
- The space has a sufficient size and is designed in a way in which workers are able to physically enter the space
- The space has both entrances and exits that are either restricted or limited
- The space has a configuration that doesn’t allow your employees to continually spend time in this space
1. Identifying Risks and Hazards
Confined spaces are full of dangerous hazards and risks. Not all of them are always visible to the eye. However, proper confined space training prepares your workers to notice and identify these risks and prevent them from harming anyone. Some of these hazards include:
- Harmful airborne contaminants like hydrogen sulfide build-up as well as vapors and pits from paints, solvents, cleaning solutions, and adhesives
- Unsafe oxygen levels
- Fire and explosion (sparking electrical tools or static)
2. Handling Emergencies
Emergencies such as fire or gas leak are inevitable. They happen at construction site no matter what you do. The difference, however, is in how well your workers respond to those emergency situations. A well-trained worker who knows how to handle such situations will know how to stay calm and collected and how to get themselves and others out of a dangerous space. In these kinds of moments, staying calm and knowing what to do can make the difference between life and death.
3. Business Compliance
Due to the inevitable dangers of working in confined spaces, the Australian government requires all supervisors and workers to undergo this special confined space training. As a business you have legal obligations to meet certain standards and ensure that all of your workers have the necessary certificates and qualifications to be working in confined spaces. In addition to that, you also need to have clear confined space procedures set in place.
According to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, as someone who is conducting the business your duty is to ensure the safety of your workers. The entry into confined spaces needs to be limited by the designers of equipment and structures. So, if you have a small business conducting work in confined spaces, you need to ensure your workers go through confined space training and ensure your business is legally compliant. That way, you get to protect your business from fines, lawsuits or a public relations disaster.
4. Save Money in the Long Run
Your workers’ safety and the profit your business makes are the two top priorities. The good thing is that these two are not mutually exclusive. By ensuring that your workers are adequately trained and therefore safe in the space they work in you are also saving money in the long run. Accidents that take place on construction sites can set you back in time due to sick leave and court costs can add up as well. So when you compare a few hundred dollars that you will invest in confined space training with thousands of dollars you can lose if your workers get injured, it’s definitely a much better choice to get your workers to do the certified training.
5. Encouraging Leadership
As a business owner, you should be encouraging workers who display excellent leadership skills and enroll them in confined space training courses to help them develop those skills even more. This is how your workers bring more value into your workspace and motivate others to do better. Not only will your workers be able to protect themselves and others but they will also showcase great organization and leadership skills that will move your projects forward even faster and in a more efficient way.
6. Give Yourself a Peace of Mind
Lastly, simply knowing that your workers are capable of protecting themselves while working with dangerous equipment and in risky confined spaces will give you a peace of mind. Then, you will simply be able to focus on the tasks you need to do and let the workers handle their responsibilities.
In conclusion, confined spaces are risky and can cause injuries to your workers if they don’t know how to get around confined spaces and handle emergencies. That is why confined space training is helpful and shouldn’t be skipped if you’re conducting a project in a construction zone.