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Telecoms Confined Spaces: A Guide To Working Safely

telecoms confined spaces

Working in the telecoms industry often involves navigating confined spaces such as chambers, duct entry areas, roof voids, basements, and splicing in the back of vehicles.

While these spaces may seem harmless, they can pose serious risks to workers who are not properly trained or equipped.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the dangers of confined spaces in the telecoms industry and provide tips for working safely.

Whether you’re a seasoned telecoms professional or just starting out, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to stay safe in confined spaces.

Hazards from Confined Spaces

Each year, workers in the telecoms industry and other industries in the UK are at risk of serious injury or even death due to the hazards of confined spaces. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), not only can workers in these spaces be at risk, but so too can those who attempt to rescue them without proper training and equipment.

Confined spaces in the telecoms industry can present a number of hazards, including those that are already present within the space itself. However, it’s also important to be aware that seemingly safe work environments can become confined spaces due to various factors. For instance, a task performed by others, such as using adhesive to lay new flooring in an enclosed area, can quickly deplete oxygen levels and create a hazardous environment. Similarly, a faulty boiler could release carbon monoxide and put workers at risk.

It’s crucial for telecoms workers to be aware of these dangers and take the necessary precautions to stay safe when working in confined spaces.

Assess the space and works to be undertaken

As a Telecoms worker. you need to identify the hazard and risks of the confined space and form undertaking the proposed work within the confined space including, chambers, (internal cabling chambers) duct entry areas, roof voids, basements, and splicing in the back of vehicles when using solvents etc. From this assessment, you should be able to determine what precautions need to be in place.

This assessment needs to have been made by competent people.

If your assessment identifies risks of serious injury from work in confined spaces, the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 apply, for which the key duties are: 

Avoid Entry to Confined Spaces

Can you undertake the work or modify the confined space so that workers do not have to enter the confined space? In low cable congested deep chambers (countryside etc) splicing / copper closures can be fixed near to the top of the chamber (fixing brackets) or on pull up systems that can easily be reached to avoid entry. (as long as they do not cause additional hazards)

If you still have to enter the confined space you must have a suitable safe system for working within the space.

Safe System of work

A risk assessment of the space and the work activities to be undertaken within and near the space needs to have been undertaken to identify the required controls to allow your works to commence within the space.

All working in the confined space will need to be instructed on this safe system of work.

Below are a number of considerations that may be required for access to the confined space to undertake the proposed works:

Emergency Arrangements

Suitable emergency arrangements need to have been planned and be in place to ensure safe rescue of workers within a space. This plan should identify:

All Telecoms teams should be given confined space awareness training, with cablers, splicers and pressure teams provided with certified courses to be able to use rescue equipment competently (tripods and breathing apparatus et) it is best practice to have your top man / safety person fully trained.

Need further support?

If you’re unsure whether your confined space procedures are up to par or if you’re looking for expert advice on how to improve them, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our telecom industry health and safety experts.

Do you want better compliance?

Hey, I’m Alex Burbidge. I’m determined to make a business health and safety compliant. My only question is, will it be yours?

About Pro Safety Management

We are a Specialist Telecoms Health and Safety Consultancy with over 40+ years experience. Serving some of the global leading telecommunication companies, we provide specialist and strategic health and safety management ensuring operational standards at the highest level.

Do you want better compliance?

Hey, I’m Alex Burbidge. I’m determined to make a business health and safety compliant. My only question is, will it be yours?

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