Death of three in water tank tragedy a reminder of the risks of confined space work

Three farmers from the New South Wales town of Gunning have tragically died this Thursday evening after entry into an empty water tank on their property. It is believed that the first man was undertaking cleaning activities in the tank when he was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes generated by a pump, and an additional two members of his family then perished while trying to rescue him.

Events like this one, while shocking, are unfortunately not uncommon, and emphasize the dangers associated with entering and working in confined spaces. Time and again, we see incidents occurring in tanks, silos, drains and sewers, some of which result in fatalities.

While hazards relating to confined space entry can be readily controlled to prevent incidents and fatalities, many workers and members of the community remain uninformed of the hazards relating to confined space work. This is likely due to the fact that many hazards, such as low oxygen levels or the presence of toxic/flammable contaminants are not easily identifiable to untrained persons, leading workers to unknowingly expose themselves to extremely dangerous situations.In addition, dangers are often caused by the type of work being done, introduced chemicals or the equipment being used, so hazards may arise quickly at different points throughout the job.

Fortunately, however, heightened awareness and rigorous training in confined space entry has been proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of incidents and fatalities. Initial certification, regular refresher training and the use of permit systems has led to increased worker awareness and safety across many countries, and helps to create a safer workplace every day.

To help ensure that you and your workmates or employees are not exposed to serious risks, and to create a safer environment whilst working in confined spaces, ensure that you keep your confined space training up to date by regularly completing comprehensive refresher training.

Your Licence offers nationally recognised Confined Space Entry Refresher Training – comprehensive, affordable and 100% online.


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AITAC Pty Ltd (TOID3591) is the registered training organisation provider for Your Licence.


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