I've worked as a confined space consultant for CSTS Ltd for over 11 years and arrogantly thought I'd seen it all!
I've seen clients wanting to go over the top with their control measures. I've battled with clients who haven't seem to care. I've made projects happen that others said were too difficult and I've completed 100's of entries for various clients. I've even been threatened and offered bribes to give the 'right' recommendations! Today though was something different.
I'm working for a client who has had serious accidents on their site over the last few years. We're updating all of their procedures, increasing competences, buying new equipment and coming up with ideas to reduce the number of entries they carry out, amongst other things. All the usual things you would expect a consultant to do.
During a one to one meeting with one of the Managers this afternoon I was explaining our plans and listening to his concerns. Towards the end of our session I asked him whether there was anything in particular he wanted this project to achieve. He replied slowly, quietly, with a lump in his throat and a tear in his eye, "just make sure we don't have any more accidents". He meant it.
He was there in the days following their fatal confined space accident last year, dealing with the aftermath and helping with the investigation. It had understandably had a profound affect on him.
I have been called in to help companies after fatalities four times now and each time I am sobered by how horrible confined space deaths really are. However I have always been able to distance myself from the human element.... until today. The look in that Manager's eyes and the way he spoke those words has reminded me of what I do and why I do it but perhaps more importantly he has reminded me that I am dealing with real people, their families, their friends and their colleagues.