Being confined to a very small working space can be extremely uncomfortable for anybody - especially those with claustrophobia. You may be concerned that you do not have enough space in the workplace, but are you actually entitled to more working space than you’re being given?
Regulation 10 of the Workplace, (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that “Every room where persons work shall have sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for purposes of health, safety and welfare”.
Addressing the guidance towards compliance, the regulations state “Workrooms must have enough free space to allow people to get to and from workstations and to move within the room, with ease. The number of people who may work in any particular room at any one time will depend not only on the size of the room, but on the space taken up by furniture, fittings, equipment, and on the layout of the room. Workrooms, except those where people only work for short periods, should be of sufficient height (from floor to ceiling) over most of the room to enable safe access to workstations. In older buildings with obstructions such as low beams, the obstruction should be clearly marked”.
The total volume of the room, when empty, divided by the number of people normally working in it should be at least 11 cubic metres. In making this calculation a room or part of a room which is more than 3.0m high should be counted as 3.0m high. The figure of 11 cubic metres per person is a minimum and may be insufficient if, for example, much of the room is taken up by furniture etc.
The figure of 11 cubic metres does not apply to:
- Retail sales kiosks, attendants' shelters, machine control cabs or similar small structures, where space is necessarily limited; or
- Rooms being used for lectures, meetings and similar purposes.
In a typical room, where the ceiling is 2.4m high, a floor area of 4.6m2 (for example 2.0 x 2.3m) will be needed to provide a space of 11 cubic metres. Where the ceiling is 3.0m high or higher the minimum floor area will be 3.7m2 (for example 2.0 x 1.85m). (These floor areas are only for illustrative purposes and are approximate).
The floor space per person indicated above will not always give sufficient unoccupied space, as required by the Regulation. Rooms may need to be larger or to have fewer people working in them, than indicated in those paragraphs, depending on such factors as the contents and layout of the room and the nature of the work. Where space is limited careful planning of the workplace is particularly important.
Working in Confined Space Training
For those of you who work in confined spaces, we offer an online Working in Confined Space Training course that was designed to teach you about the dangers you may face and how to prepare for them.
The course provides a printable certificate upon completion & is available to try for free today! Follow this link to start your free trial!