Trapped at the top?

Hands-on experiences of managing confined spaces and work at height – Mac Stephens, Outreach Centre

On a bright Thursday afternoon, we were invited by the North Wales IOSH Branch to the Outreach Centre in Llanllechid, Bethesda for an afternoon to discuss working at height and confined spaces.

The welcome was second to none, with a spread of lovely food to welcome courtesy of the centre. This was followed by a safety talk and welcome by Tony, Mac, and Ollie. We were then taken up to one of the many indoor spaces that are set up in the centre. The spaces provide an array of situations and scenarios which mimic those which that you may come across in your work environment. There was an initial talk about the importance of planning in the rescue of a casualty from a confined space and how many deaths are caused not by the original task but by the rescue procedure itself. The use of a tripod in a confined space rescue was discussed. Mac demonstrated that the stability of the tripod can be impaired if you position incorrectly. With the use of a dummy they demonstrated poor positioning before showing us what good positioning looks like – ensuring that casualty moves into a horizontal position as soon as they exit the confined space. This ensured the stability of the tripod, reduced the likelihood of injury upon exit, and ensured quicker medical treatment for the casualty.

Other demonstrations included transporting the patient along horizontal confined spaces, emergency breathing apparatus, bringing an unconscious casualty down from height, and preventing falls from height.

The importance of deciding on controls using a hierarchy was discussed, along with with some important points from the Working at Height Regulations, and how we as professionals have a role in providing up to date and correct information on possible controls and safe systems of work.

The talk was well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all.