Employers 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). When working 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 and the arrangements for emergency rescue.

Working in confined spaces exposes an employee to a range of potential hazards, some of which may threaten injury and in some instances may possibly lead to death. As a consequence, specialist training and assessment is required to equip those undertaking this type of work with the necessary skills and competencies to assess risk, control hazards and to work safely. A space given high risk rating is classified as having a hazard that cannot be controlled or eliminated. Therefore any individual entering these areas must be trained in dealing with the specified hazard and protective equipment is more important than ever. In these spaces, there may or may not be access issues. Due to their unpredictable nature, extra caution should be taken, rescue staff should always be at hand and every possible eventuality must be considered.

As part of the McAllister Group’s investment in its people, a number of staff recently completed High Risk Confined Space (NC4) and the High Risk Confined Space Rescue training in Antrim in conjunction with Highway Safety & Construction Training Ltd. The three-day course involves training on Access Equipment (Tripod & Winch system, Full Duration BA), Confined Space Rescue harnesses, Atmospheric monitoring equipment, Ventilation, the use of Emergency Escape Breathing Apparatus and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (short/standard and extended duration sets and/or airline supply systems), Breathing Apparatus control procedures and the duties of the Top Man/Person (Safety Attendant), Rescue Team member and Rescue Team leader. This course relates directly to aspects of the Group’s project work including: Wet Wells, Tanks, Sewer Networks amongst others.

In Northern Ireland, the McAllister Group is the only company fully qualified to undertake rescues within confined spaces under high risk circumstances.

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