A ‘confined space’ is defined as anywhere that is substantially enclosed (although not necessarily entirely), where a person may be at risk from injury from hazardous substances or lack of oxygen. Whilst it is not possible to exhaustively list every kind of confined space, the most common kinds are: storage tanks, sewers and enclosed drains – however, perhaps less obvious are: open-topped chambers, ductwork, combustion chambers and any kind of unventilated (or poorly ventilated) room.
When considering the dangers posed by carrying out work in confined spaces, it’s important that a thorough risk assessment is performed before anybody enters a potentially dangerous environment. The law clearly states that a comprehensive assessment will consider:
- The nature of the specific task in hand
- Features of the work environment in which the task will be performed
- Working materials and tools required for the task
- The suitability of the persons designated to undertake the task
- Details of emergency procedures should they become necessary
If your assessment identifies risk, then the environment is considered to be subject to the Confined Space Regulations (1997), which state that you should:
- avoid entry to confined spaces, eg by doing the work from outside;
- if entry to a confined space is unavoidable, follow a safe system of work; and
- put in place adequate emergency arrangements before the work starts.
When it is deemed that work must be carried out in a confined space, it is important to consider what equipment is needed to ensure safe working – this could be environmental monitoring equipment to measure oxygen levels or some kind of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Additionally, it is essential that anyone working in confined spaces is adequately trained to understand the dangers associated with this kind of work, as well as knowing how to operate any associated equipment.
Our Working in Confined Space Training includes: what a confined space it and why they are dangerous, legal duties and responsibilities, and how to prepare for entry into a confined space. Why not get started with a free trial today?