Confined spaces project

Confined spaces continue to cause significant harm around the world and confined space deaths continue to occur in the UK.

Colleagues in Lloyds Register Foundation (LRF) and Lloyds Register Group (LRG) have undertaken a review of the worldwide confined spaces picture following the global safety challenges work which identified this as a key challenge around the world. Lloyds Register (LR) colleagues have undertaken a structured desk based review which involved searching literature and engaging with subject matter experts. This work was valuable but LR colleagues would like to augment this with a more data driven analysis to determine where confined spaces hazards present the greatest challenges.  

An appreciation of the adequacy of risk control in different sectors and root causation would better enable industry to target improvements and reduce harm globally.  

Industry drivers

As part of the stakeholder engagement within the Phase 0 LRF work, stakeholders were asked what aspects of ‘safety’ were of interest to them. The project team were expecting occupational safety and process safety (management of risks of catastrophic events) to be raised, which they were. However safety of work in confined spaces was independently raised by some stakeholders, after which there was consensus that it was an important area in which a data driven approach could be useful. 

Working in confined spaces is a cross-sector issue that may occur in several different settings. Safety of the work situations is of concern in the developing world as it is in the developed world, and it is believed that the ability to identify and implement effective safety measures is becoming an increasing problem for industry. 


Aims and objectives

To carry out a feasibility study to understand confined spaces work risk profiles across different industry sectors, and identify potential new mitigation measures to reduce the number and severity of the incidents.  


  • Establish the viability of the HSE related data to provide the required insight into confined space incidents in the UK.  

  • Gain deep insight about the occurrence, type, sector spread and geography of the types of incidents  

  • Understand the key health and safety challenges concerning working in confined spaces occurring internationally. 

  • Map and seek to understand current developments for safety of confined space working in the UK (e.g. types and range of risk control systems). 

  • Identify and study other databases and intervention approaches from around the world including identifying whether the information could augment the available UK data  


Key benefits

If the feasibility study produces data that is conducive to gaining valuable insights, the insights could be used in later projects to: 

  • Empower ‘intelligent customers’ – i.e. those vested with regulation of these types of work situations as to how to better evaluate interventions and assure they are fit for purpose. 

  • Provide designers and manufacturers with insight and case studies to improve design and manufacturing of confined space structures/environments for safe working.