Confined space incidents continue to be leading sources of multiple fatalities in industry in Great Britain and around the world. Generally, a confined workspace is an enclosure that is not designed for continuous occupancy, is large enough for occupation by a whole person or persons, is large enough for the occupants to perform the assigned work and has limited or restricted means of entry or exit. Existing evidence about confined space accidents in the scientific literature and accident reports and investigation data held by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were reviewed to gain insights into the usefulness of the HSE datasets for identifying root causes of these accidents and any other factors that may affect data-driven safety decisions about work in confined spaces.
A better understanding of incident root causes and the effectiveness of risk control methods would better enable industry to target improvements and reduce harm. One way to improve this understanding may be a more data-driven analysis to gain insight as to where and how confined space hazards are present. Lloyd’s Register Foundation commissioned HSE to undertake a feasibility study to establish the viability of using available datasets about confined space work accidents to improve insights into confined space hazards.
Aims and objectives
The aim of the study was to investigate the utility of the data available to HSE to gain insight into confined space incidents in the following ways:
- Understand the conditions that lead to incidents;
- Understand which sectors and locations experience the most incidents;
- Identify mitigating measures that could be taken to reduce risks associated with confined space entry and improve worker safety in them.
There were five objectives
- To establish the viability of the HSE data to provide the required insight into confined space incidents in GB.
- To gain deep insight about the occurrence, sector spread and geography of the types of incidents identified.
- To understand key health and safety challenges concerning working in confined spaces.
- To map and seek to understand current developments for safety of confined space working in GB (e.g. types and range of risk control systems).
- To identify and study other databases and intervention approaches from around the world including identifying whether the information was capable of providing the required insight and/or augment the available GB data.