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.