Care of Staff in Confined Spaces

Excavating beneath a buildings structure is a primary task of many of W11 Construction projects.

Site managers issue a Permit to Dig which only allows certain people to be involved with the digging process and going down into the confined spaces. This is something that is highly dangerous and we do everything we can to ensure the correct measures are in place.

For work underground, the employees will always work in pairs. One worker will be in the hole and the other will stay above ground to watch over him and act accordingly in an emergency. There are specific problems that come with underground work such as gas leaks or holes caving in, and the person above ground needs to know how to act in order to get the person in the hole out as quickly and as safely as possible.

One of the biggest problems we found at first was how to get people out of the hole quickly and safely, especially as people can be heavy. Although having them on a harness is useful, it isn’t the best way, as just pulling someone out isn’t that easy. This is why they now use mechanical winches to get people out of the holes in an emergency. This makes “dead loads” easier to lift; it also removes any requirement for anyone including emergency services to enter the excavation.

Overall, the projects use a scaffold system designed and installed along the full length of the structure to be underpinned, which can support the emergency evacuation equipment. This can be accessed from both sides and is above head height so there is no requirement for the rescuer or spoil operative to lean over the excavation. This method has been commended by our visitors and has increased health and safety.

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Entry submitted by W11 Construction

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