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Work in Confined Spaces


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Information on Hazards and Health and Safety considerations when working in confined spaces.

Information on Hazards and Health and Safety considerations when working in confined spaces.

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  • 1. Work In Confined Spaces
  • 2. What is a Confined Space? Any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious injury from a specific risk Examples: Storage tanks, silos, enclosed drains, sewers, chambers, vats, ductwork, unventilated rooms
  • 3. Hazards  Lack of oxygen  Poisonous gas, fume or vapour  Ingress of liquids or free-flowing solids  Fire and explosion from flammable vapours, excess oxygen etc.  Residues which give off gas, fume or vapour  Dust  Hot conditions
  • 4. Control Measures
  • 5. Avoid Entering Confined Spaces Modify confined space itself so that entry is not necessary Have work done from outside
  • 6. Safe System of Work If entry cannot be avoided, SSoW will need to be developed from risk assessment Properly train and instruct everyone in SSoW
  • 7. Supervision Supervisors should be given responsibility to: Ensure that necessary precautions are taken; Check safety at each stage Possibly remain present while work is carried out
  • 8. Suitable Employees Trained and competent Physically suitable Fit to wear breathing apparatus Not susceptible to claustrophobia Medical advice may be necessary
  • 9. Isolation Mechanical & electrical if necessary Physical isolation of pipework Physical checks to ensure safety Sign isolation points
  • 10. Ventilation Increase amount of openings Provide mechanical ventilation Never use petrol fuelled equipment in confined spaces
  • 11. Air Testing Check for presence of toxic and flammable vapours Check for oxygen levels Carried out by competent person using suitable gas detector which is correctly calibrated Continuous monitoring may be necessary
  • 12. Tools and lighting Non-sparking tools and specially protected lighting where flammable or explosive atmospheres are present RCDs and low voltage equipment may be necessary to prevent electric shocks
  • 13. Breathing Apparatus Essential if air is not fit to breathe due to gas, fume or vapour, or lack of oxygen Never try to sweeten air with oxygen as this increases risk of fire or explosion
  • 14. Emergency Arrangements  Contact with emergency services  Practice drills  Rescue equipment e.g. Lifelines & harnesses  Train and instruct all staff in emergency procedures  Top man to raise alarm in case of emergency  Trained first aiders on hand  Fire fighting equipment nearby  Rescuers need to be fit and capable of carrying out rescue
  • 15. Communication Adequate communication system to allow people inside the space to communicate with people outside the space if necessary Adequate communication system to allow people outside the space to summon help immediately if necessary
  • 16. Permit-to-Work Systems Written system Ensures all elements of safe system are in place Clearly identifies responsibilities Should include contractors Everyone will need to be trained and instructed
  • 17. Other Controls Cleaning and purging Steam cleaning
  • 18. Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 Avoid entry to confined spaces If entry to a confined space is unavoidable, follow a safe system of work Put in place adequate emergency arrangements before the work starts “Due diligence” defence