What Is A Confined Space And Why Is It Dangerous?
A confined space is an area with a confined entry and limited or restricted means for escape, and is considered dangerous due to many different potential risks.
Examples of confined spaces include storage tanks, process vessels, sewers, tunnels, pits, and underground vaults. Confined spaces are often enclosed and contain hazardous substances such as smoke or fumes from particular gases.
Depending on the type of confined space present, workers may also be exposed to a risk of drowning due to the changes in pressure in tightly confined areas. As these hazards may be difficult to identify before entering a confined space, it is critical that those working in these areas receive proper training and follow appropriate safety guidelines.
How Are Confined Spaces Defined By Queensland Legislation?
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 for Queensland specifies the following definition of a confined space:
confined space means an enclosed or partially enclosed space that—
(a) is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person; and
(b) is, or is designed or intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; and
(c) is or is likely to be a risk to health and safety from— Schedule 19 Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 Current as at 1 January 2023 Page 749 Authorised by the Parliamentary Counsel
(i) an atmosphere that does not have a safe oxygen level; or
(ii) contaminants, including airborne gases, vapours and dusts, that may cause injury from fire or explosion; or
(iii) harmful concentrations of any airborne contaminants; or
(iv) engulfment; but does not include a mine shaft or the workings of a mine.
What Legislation Applies to Working In Confined Spaces in Queensland?
The legal requirements for confined spaces in Queensland is located in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, Part 4.3 – Confined spaces.
More information can also be found in the Confined Spaces Code of Practice 2021
How Can You Identify A Confined Space Before Entering It?
Identifying confined spaces before entering them is critical to stay safe in confined space operations. A confined space can be identified by looking for confined spaces signs or checking confined space permit records.
Additionally, confined spaces tend to have limited access points, have walls or structures that partially or completely enclose the area, and have hazardous properties such as silos, manholes, tanks, covered pits and other such enclosed areas.
Confined spaces are often labeled with a warning sign alerting those approaching of its presence and potential hazards. If these warnings are not visible or clear then other measures should be taken to confirm it is a confined space such as checking air quality or taking note of poor ventilation before entering the confined space.
If any of these checks are positive then personnel should remain clear of entry until appropriate safety precautions have been taken.
What Are The Risks Associated With Working In A Confined Space, And How Can They Be Mitigated?
Working in confined spaces demands extra caution to mitigate risks that can prove hazardous even in the most controlled circumstances.
Confined spaces are often confined for a reason and typically devoid of the necessary oxygen needed to sustain human life. Common confined spaces include manholes, tanks, pits, and vessels either on-site or offshore.
Equipment like scaffolding and raised platforms must be used carefully due to restricted headroom, limited access points, and confined angles of work.
Furthermore, confined spaces may contain harmful substances such as combustible gases or liquids or toxic substances which could cause death if inhaled.
To help prevent these accidents from occurring it is essential that safety precautions are followed, such as thorough risk assessments prior to beginning work, appropriate ventilation being provided when necessary, and only allowing trained personnel with the right protective equipment into the confined space.
How Do You Safely Enter And Exit A Confined Space?
When working with confined spaces, safety should always be your top priority. Due to the confined nature of these areas, extra caution must be taken to ensure that proper procedures are followed upon entry and exit.
Depending on the confined space, you may need to secure a permit and test the air quality beforehand. To enter, workers should wear all necessary personal protective equipment, check for any hazardous conditions, and use secure ladders or stairs when available.
Upon leaving, take note of any changes in atmosphere or other potential hazards that could have developed since entering. If everything looks clear, simply reverse the process for entry when exiting the confined area before any work begins.
What Should Be Done If An Incident Occurs While Someone Is Working In A Confined Space?
If an incident occurs while someone is working in a confined space, it is vital that emergency rescue plans are implemented as soon as possible to mitigate the risks and consequences of such an emergency.
Depending on the exact nature of the emergency, emergency responders need to be notified and may need to be dispatched to provide medical attention or other assistance. Next, personnel should implement any necessary evacuation processes by removing personnel from the affected area, or alternatively they could limit access to the affected area until emergency responders arrive.
It is also important that staff remain calm and follow their training in order to keep any confusion or disorganization at a minimum during this period. Furthermore, following emergency protocols to ensure the safety of everyone involved is essential for bringing the situation under control and avoiding more serious consequences for those involved.
Are There Any Other Safety Concerns To Keep In Mind When Working In A Confined Space?
When working in a confined space, it is important to keep other safety concerns in mind. This includes having adequate lighting and ventilation, using the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), being aware of potential hazards such as combustible gases or liquids, and taking extra caution when using any tools or machinery. Additionally, ensure that all personnel are properly trained.
Where Are The Best Confined Space Training Courses?
We’ve carried out some research to find the best Confined Space training courses available, check out some of the links below to learn more:
What Safety Paperwork Is Required for Confined Space Work?
Working in a confined space can be a dangerous job, so it is critical to ensure that all necessary safety paperwork is in place before proceeding. Businesses are legally required to prepare an Emergency Rescue Plan and Risk Assessment for any confined space work.
The Emergency Rescue Plan should lay out the details of how potential rescue or retrieval operations should take place if an emergency were to occur. These plans must also list contact information for qualified personnel who will coordinate the rescue operations.
Additionally, any employee entering a confined space must fill out and sign an Entry Permit prior to starting work. This form lets employers monitor who is going into hazardous spaces, as well as when they entered, what hazards they might face, and an estimated time of return.
Careful adherence to safety protocols ensures that all people involved in confined space work are kept safe.
Work Safety QLD Has A Selection Of Templates Available For Confined Spaces, Check Them Out Below:
- Confined Space Documentation Bundle (Includes all of the below templates)
- Confined Space Entry Permit Template
- Confined Space Risk Assessment Template
- Confined Space Emergency Rescue Plan Template
- Working in Confined Spaces Policy Template
- Confined Space SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement)
Have You Ever Carried Out Work In A Confined Space? What Safety Protocols Were In Place To Keep You Safe? Let Us Know In The Comments Section Below!
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