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Safe working in confined spaces

As stated by the HSE, a confined space is defined as one which is both enclosed or largely enclosed and has a reasonably foreseeable specified risk to workers of:

  • fire

  • explosion

  • loss of consciousness

  • asphyxiation

  • drowning

It may be small and restrictive for the worker or it could be far larger such as a grain storage silo with hundreds of cubic metre capacity.

What are the hazards:

  • Working in a confined space is dangerous because of the risks from noxious fumes, reduced oxygen levels, or a risk of fire.

  • Other dangers may include flooding, drowning or asphyxiation from some other source such as dust, grain or other contaminant.

What you have to do: Wherever possible, you should avoid carrying out tasks in confined spaces. If this is not possible, you must assess the risks of the particular confined space and plan how you will control those risks.

For example, if:

  • a confined space has harmful fumes, you should consider how these can be ventilated or removed

  • there is a risk of liquids or gases flooding in, you should establish whether the valves can be locked shut

  • someone is going into a confined space and there is not enough oxygen to breathe properly, you must provide breathing apparatus or ventilate the space to increase oxygen levels before entering

You should have emergency arrangements where necessary. If someone is working in a confined space, think about the following:

  • how will you know they are okay and have not been overcome by fumes?

  • how will you get them out if they are overcome? (It’s not enough to rely on the emergency services)

For more information by the HSE, please click here.

If you require Confined Space training, such as Low Risk Entry, Medium Risk Entry or Confined Space NPORS Accredited, please feel free to get in touch:

01782 438813

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