Concrete and confined spaces | IMPAC health and safety

3 July, 2018  |  News

This article was originally published in Concrete NZ’s Readymix News.


When Kyle Earnshaw, Allied Concrete’s Health and Safety Advisor, contacted IMPAC about the Concrete and Confined Spaces course, he emphasised their unique set of requirements as a ready mixed concrete producer.

“We knew that putting our staff through a standard confined space entry course would not provide them with the specific knowledge they need for their working environment, so we were looking for something more tailored to our circumstances.”


concretenzAn Allied Concrete mixer truck. Photo from Readymix News.


IMPAC embarked on a process of customising the course to meet Allied Concrete’s needs, making it more relevant and practical. A key part of the process was incorporating Allied Concrete’s standard operating procedures so that the course covered specific hazards and risks associated with entering a concrete bowl and removing built-up concrete.

For confined space entry, every detail must be carefully planned and managed to ensure the safety of all those involved. The hazards common to confined spaces can be difficult to detect without knowledge and specialist equipment. With this in mind, IMPAC paid close attention to the course content to ensure there would be no gaps in trainees’ knowledge.

It didn’t take long for Allied Concrete to have a customised course ready to go. An IMPAC Health and Safety Specialist delivered the course at selected Allied Concrete locations across the country. The approach taken was to ‘train-the-trainers’, which meant that the trainees didn’t just become familiar with the course content; they learnt how to teach it.

Information packs were made available at all Allied Concrete locations, enabling those delivering the course to supplement key points with detailed material in a convenient ‘take-away’ package.

In terms of the course structure, it opens with a discussion around why training is needed for concrete bowl entry. It was considered important to begin with this dialogue in order for trainees to acknowledge the need for targeted instruction from the outset.

Kyle points out that the course deliberately emphasises the risks faced by Allied Concrete staff when entering a concrete truck bowl right from the session’s beginning.

“At the very start trainees are made aware of the reasons why a concrete bowl is deemed a confined space,” says Kyle. “This is done by highlighting that they are exposed to numerous risks when entering the bowl. A video presentation helps to convey this key message, highlighting that risks must be appropriately controlled.”

The course is broken down into four sections:

SECTION 1: Hazards and risks 
SECTION 2: Teamwork, safe work practices, and PPE 
SECTION 3: Emergency plans 
SECTION 4: Completing the documentation

“The course covers all potential hazards that a worker will face, and offers an opportunity to discuss the risk factors that increase the likelihood of exposure or injury, the signs and symptoms of this, and the available control measures. Safe Work Practices including permit issuing, receiving responsibilities, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements,” says Kyle.

Time is also allocated during the course to cover the specific requirements of Allied Concrete’s standard operating procedures. This occurs towards the end of the session, by which stage trainees have a good understanding of the hazards and risks at play, and in turn an appreciation of why controls are required.

“Learning to identify risks and understanding associated controls have been the biggest benefit of delivering a course specific to the task being undertaken,” concludes Kyle.