Posted on: 01/3/18

Confined Space Training 101: Buyers Guide

There is a staggering range of options out there when it comes to training people to access confined spaces. Do you have the right information to book your individual of group of employees in with the right training provider?

Information to choose the best trainers…

Information to make the right decision on location: online, mobile, client site, centre based….

Information to make the right decision on accreditation: in-house, City & Guilds, ISO 9001, bespoke courses…

The list goes on.

It’s not an easy decision, is it?! Potentially, a lot of money is at stake. Furthermore people’s time is on the line, which is even harder to put a price on!

There are 1001 people who’ll call themselves confined space trainers. But a PowerPoint presentation and background in industry does not a confined space trainer make!

This article is going to help you make a wise decision when it comes to choosing the right training provider. At Reax Specialist Access and Rescue we’ve been in the position of both trainee and trainer many times over the years and have found the following to be essential information:

Training and Instructional Staff

There are 1001 people who’ll call themselves confined space trainers. But a PowerPoint presentation and background in industry does not a confined space trainer make! Communication skills, access experience, the ability to solve complex rescue problems, listening skills and real life rescue experience both individually and in a team set some trainers apart from others. As an example, many of our training team are from a fire and rescue service background and have operated or managed in team environments over extensive careers. In addition they are passionate about helping others to operate safely and enjoy passing on their skills. If you’re just looking for a tick in a box, don’t bother asking about the background and experience of the confined space training staff. But if you do want to get the highest level of training, it’s worth asking a few questions and expecting to hear about highly experienced personnel.

Location

Firstly, you need there to be a location! If anyone thinks they can sufficiently train their staff to access confined spaces by putting them through an online course they are asking for trouble. There is no replacement for real life experience of accessing confined spaces and having a real person standing next to you, able to answer questions and identify errors.

Equally, many training courses are run with inadequate facilities; how many of us have arrived on a confined space course to find the practical activities being carried out on a shipping container with a few holes cut in it?! Purpose built training centres tend to offer the most realistic training environments which can be tailored to your employee’s requirements. Working with a vertical, round manhole entry? Accessing through a rectangular side hatch which is a metre off the floor? These are common situations which a purpose built centre is more likely to accommodate (see here for an example of good training facilities).

If you’re looking at bringing in a company to train at your site it’s worth ensuring that your facilities are safe but also adequate. Many companies have confined spaces which can be made available for training but which offer little in the way of complexity. It’s not going to help anyone who’s on a medium risk course to practice going into a low risk environment… At Reax we always liaise with companies to ensure that client site training is as high quality as our centre based courses.

Accreditation

It’s worth finding out if your company or clients require a particular accreditation for training courses. At Reax we offer both City & Guilds and in-house accreditation. Some companies insist on a City & Guilds qualification, while others require the greater flexibility of an in-house course with a bespoke curriculum. This is where a conversation with a training provider can be helpful to establish what exactly will be provided. Equally, the quality management systems of a training provider should be considered. Ideally they will have ISO 9001 (2015), ensuring that they have robust systems in place to make sure you receive the best possible service. Something like this is highly desirable.

This list is not exhaustive! There’s lots of other factors including price, availability and locality. But hopefully the above should help you to find a quality training provider.

Andy Williams is Training Manager at Reax Specialist Access and Rescue, based in Blackpool, UK.

More details about Reax can be found at www.reaxltd.com.