What is a Confined Space?

Just because an area is small and cramped it does not necessarily mean that the space is a confined space. There are several criteria that contribute to a space being a confined space, these are outlined below.

 

 

So what is the definition of a confined space?

 

The Confined Spaces Code of Practice 2014, the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 as well AS2865:2009 define a confined space as:

 

An enclosed or partially enclosed space that:

  • Is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person; and
  • Is designed or intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; and
  • Is or is likely to be at risk to health and safety from;
    • an atmosphere that does not have a safe oxygen level, or
    • contaminants, including airborne gases, vapours and dusts, that may cause injury from fire or explosion, or
    • harmful concentrations of any airborne contaminants, or
    • engulfment

 

 

Examples of Confined Spaces

 

Confined Spaces could include the following:

  • Sewers
  • Tanks
  • Pits
  • Tunnels
  • Inside plant and equipment
  • Silo
  • Hoppers
  • Access shafts

confined space

 

Let’s take two spaces as examples- the first a Silo full of grain, the second a roof cavity.

 

Silo

The Silo is enclosed and is definitely not designed to be occupied by a person, it is at atmospheric pressure while a person is in the space, it does pose a risk in health and safety to persons entering through engulfment, fire and contaminants and potentially an unsafe oxygen level. Our conclusion- it is a confined space.

 

Roof Cavity

The roof cavity is enclosed, it is not designed to be occupied by a person, it is at atmospheric pressure but does not pose a risk to the entrant from airborne contaminants or gasses, unsafe oxygen levels or engulfment. Our conclusion- not a confined space.

 

 

Why are Confined Spaces so Dangerous?

 

Working inside confined spaces is definently risky business with a high number of hazards present.

Confined Spaces often pose a risk to workers because they have hazards that cannot be seen- such as dangerous gasses like Hydrogen Sulphide, or lack of Oxygen.

Added to this is the risk that in the event of an emergency workers may find it hard to exit the space or provide assistance.

 

 

What can you do to keep yourself safe?

 

Knowledge and then applying this knowledge is critical in keeping you safe.

 

 

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