Confined Spaces

A confined space is any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of serious injury or death from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions.

Examples of confined spaces include:
  • storage tanks
  • process vessels
  • storage bins
  • silos
  • flues and ducts
  • sewers and drains
  • excavations
  • tunnels.

A confined space may also be created by leakage of toxic gas in an enclosed area or a poorly ventilated room.

Working in a confined space is hazardous because of the following possible hazards:
  • flammable substances
  • toxic fumes or vapours
  • oxygen enrichment or deficiency
  • ingress of liquids
  • excessive heat
  • flooding and/or drowning
  • asphyxiation from dust, grain or other contaminant.

Worldwide, people are killed or seriously injured in confined spaces each year.  these occur across a wide range of industries and involve complex plant as well as simple storage vessels.

To ensure safety, an organisation must make sure that a safe system of work is developed and put into practice.  Workers working in a confined space must be adequately informed, instructed and trained in the relevant safe system of work, safety equipment and rescue arrangements.

To reduce the risks from working in a confined area:
  • determine if the work can be carried out without the need to enter
  • establish a safe system of work, if entry to a confined space is unavoidable
  • put in place adequate emergency arrangements before the work starts.

Did you know…?

More than half of all workplace confined space fatalities involve workers trying to rescue their colleagues.