Last edited 17 Dec 2019

Working in confined conditions

Contents

[edit] Introduction

A confined space is a space that is substantially enclosed, may have limited or restricted means of entry or exit, and poses a health hazard both from its spatially restricted nature and the access to and from it, or from the materials and objects that may be encountered. It hinders and potentially makes unsafe the activities of those inside. Confined spaces are not usually intended for continuous occupation.

Ship building, water, construction and mining industries may required work in confined spaces.

[edit] Types of confined space

Spaces that may be considered confined spaces include:

Hazards that may be encountered in confined spaces can include:

  • Poor air quality or insufficient oxygen for an entrant to breathe, or inhalation of stale or polluted air.
  • Materials that could engulf a worker e.g a liquid or flowable solid substance.
  • Total darkness.
  • Atmospheric hazards, e.g flammable gas, airborne combustible/non-combustible gas.
  • Entrapment hazards.
  • Low bulkheads or very low ceiling heights that could cause head injuries.
  • Sloping floors that could cause a slip.
  • Walls that converge inward to a smaller cross-section.
  • Very hot, unguarded heating or water pipes.
  • Exposed live wires.
  • Unguarded machinery.
  • Chemical exposure.
  • Rodents.

[edit] Confinement

If a confined space is so configured that it presents an entrapment hazard to entrants, they should be made aware of the fact prior to entering and should be required to have a permit to enter. They should also receive training to ensure they are aware of, and can deal with, the potential dangers. Pre-existing health problems should be identified or disclosed beforehand e.g workers who suffer from claustrophobia should not be allowed access to crawl spaces.

[edit] Legislation

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 renders employers responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees and others. This is reinforced by:

[edit] Training

Training will be required if workers are likely to have to work in confined spaces. The overall training objective is to protect those entering or working in or around a confined space. Such courses should teach the physical, chemical, and biological principles related to safe working within confined spaces. Potential entrants should be taught exactly what constitutes a confined space and the potential hazards they may encounter.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External resources