Confined spaces pose dangers because they are usually not designed to be areas where people work. Confined spaces often have poor ventilation which allows hazardous atmospheres to quickly develop, especially if the space is small. The hazards are not always obvious and may change from one entry into the confined space to the next.
Whilst rarely entered, the consequences can be fatal if the risks are not managed appropriately. There are some slight variations between state/territory regulations, but the definition from the Safe Work Australia Code of Practice – Confined Spaces is:
A confined space means an enclosed or partially enclosed space that:
- Is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person; and
- Is, or is designed or intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; and
- Is or is likely to be a 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
There are a range of requirements under the various state-based legislation and codes of practice. Greencap offers a range of services to assist businesses with meeting these requirements:
Identification of confined spaces
Development of a register of confined spaces, including labelling requirements (both in relation to a confined space entry and also proactively under normal operating conditions. What is the difference between a confined space and a restricted space?
Risk Assessment of confined spaces
Awareness of the key hazards and risks associated with a space, control measures required for safe entry/exit from the space
Development of documentation to assist organisations with setting standards and requirements in relation to confined spaces
Emergency Rescue Procedures
If there is an incident within a confined space how is the worker going to be safely removed from the space
What training is required for workers entering confined spaces, stand-by person/s and people issuing and/or signing off on confined space permits and rescue procedures.
Further details about risk management, training and emergencies, and tips about cleansing confined spaces and atmospheric testing, can be found within AS/NZS 2865: 2009 Confined Spaces