Drains, sewage treatment works, septic tanks and cesspits are unpleasant places at the best of times. And, to make matters worse, many of them aren’t easy to get into, let alone work in.

Gilson Environmental Services specialise in solving sewage treatment plant and septic tank problems in Suffolk, Norfolk and further afield. We are fully qualified to work in all types of confined spaces. Here we list some of the perils and explain how we take steps to ensure any sewage issue you have is solved quickly and efficiently, while complying with all the regulations.


The Perils

The Atmosphere – oxygen may be limited if you are working underground. You may also have to contend with the smells relating to the sewage. There may also be an issue with rust on the side of tanks, which can deplete oxygen levels further.

In addition, gases can leak into the space from contaminated land, burst pipes, or the work being carried out (such as welding or adhesives). And because the space is confined, there’s nowhere for the noxious vapours to go.

Heat – the temperature can quickly rise due to the enclosed nature of the space, particularly in hot weather where the work involved can be strenuous. This can put great demands on the worker’s body, making them more susceptible to heatstroke.

Flooding – if the problem is caused by a fractured pipe that suddenly bursts, then the area could quickly be flooded (as with gases, there may be nowhere for the water or liquid to go). There may also be a problem with floodwater seeping down into the tank or confined space, which can be an issue with ditches and trenches in particular.

Other problems which may occur in sewage areas but are less likely than those listed above are dust, fire or explosions. With both, the problem is more likely to be through any repair work being carried out rather than any pre-existing issue. For example, any hot works or tools could react with gases that are present in the chamber.


What the Law Says

The law on such work is laid down in the Confined Spaces Regulations of 1997. This law stipulates that you have to carry out a risk assessment every time you go into a confined space – assuming that you can’t do the work from outside.

This covers areas such as the task itself, the environment you will be going into, the tools you will use to complete the job (breathing apparatus as well as hand tools), who’s going to do it (are they fully qualified?), and what to do in an emergency (rescue harnesses, etcetera).

Failure to assess the risks beforehand could lead to prosecution, regardless of whether or not anything goes wrong.


Regulatory Compliance from Gilson Environmental Services

We are fully compliant with all the relevant Health and Safety Legislation.  Whatever type of septic tank problem you are faced with, whether you live in Suffolk, Norfolk or another part of East Anglia, we always carry out the required risk assessment if we know we’ll be working in a confined space.

All our engineers are City & Guilds Level 3 trained in confined space entry for underground drainage, so they are fully qualified. We use gas detectors and (where required) full breathing apparatus so noxious gases won’t be a problem. We also use man-riding tripods and fall arrest winches so there won’t be any problem escaping from a hazardous situation.

If you would like to know more about our confined space entry services, follow this link.

Remember, we also offer a range of other services, including cesspit tank installation and maintenance, septic tank treatment, ditch maintenance and pump station repair, at homes and businesses in Suffolk and throughout East Anglia.

To learn more, click here and complete our online form, or call us on 01473 741530.