The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

What is a “Confined Space”?

Graham Marshall - Monday, February 28, 2011

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines, in its general industry rule, a confined space as having three attributes:

  1. Large enough to enter and perform work;
  2.  Limited access and egress; and
  3. Not designed for continuous occupancy.

Australian Standard (AS2865-2001) defines a confined space as:

“An enclosed or partially enclosed space that is at atmospheric pressure during occupancy and is not intended or designed primarily as a place of work; and

a)                 Is liable at any time to:

i. Have an atmosphere which contains potentially harmful levels of contaminant;

ii. Have an oxygen deficiency or excess; or

iii. Cause engulfment; and

b)           Could have restricted means for entry and exit.

The United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) says:

It can be any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions (e.g., lack of oxygen)”.

Obvious confined spaces include:

»           Tanks;

»           Stacks;

»           Tunnels; and

»           Trenches.

Some less obvious confined spaces include:

»           Rooms which are inadequately ventilated;

»           Shrouded columns or vessels which render them ‘air tight’;

»           The roof of floating roof tanks; and

»           Rooms and areas that become confined spaces by virtue of the activities being undertaken.

In all cases, confined spaces are particularly dangerous because they may frequently:

»           Contain or have the potential to contain an hazardous atmosphere;

»           Contain a material that has the potential for engulfing the work party;

»           Have an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped; or

»           Contain other recognized serious safety or health hazards.

Because confined space work can be so dangerous, there are a number of safety-critical controls that need to be applied to all confined space entry activities.  The safety-critical controls are highlighted below:

  1. Identify the hazards using the Think 6, Look 6 process;
  1. Once hazards are identified, search for ways of eliminating or isolating them;
  1.  In addition, always consider eliminating the confined space entry activity;
  1. If there are no alternatives to confined space entry, always test for presence of gas;
  1. Remember to continuously gas monitor atmospheric conditions;
  1. Always ensure that confined space entry  is controlled by an authorized “Permit to Work”;
  1. Ensure workers performing confined space entry work are suitable trained;
  1. Ensure that a stand-by person acts as a sentry;
  1. Provide adequate Supervision, especially where contractors are involved; and
  1. Prevent unauthorized entry.

For a useful toolbox presentation on the management of confined space entry work, click the link to our “process safety tools”.

Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image

Trackback Link
Post has no trackbacks.

Recent Posts


Customer Testimonial Pollution prevention Working with explosives Railway Safety Crane lifts Job Safety Analysis Marine Safety Electrical hazards one per center IFAP US OSHA Salute to Our Hero's Thank God it's Friday Kinetic Energy Occupational Overuse Syndrome Bio-hazards Safety Information Posters Hydraulic Fracturing ("fracking") ALARP Social Responsibility Oil Spill Response Isolation Control APPEA LOTO Situational Awareness Coal Seam Gas Excavations Contract Risk Management Construction Safety Hazardous Substances Hess Behaviour-based Safety (BBS) WorkSafe WA Process Hazard Management Manufacturing Procedure Training Course Slips, trips and falls Fire Prevention Catostrophic Disaster Emergency Response Save our Seafarers Campaign Safety Video Energy Model of Hazards Raspberry Ketones Scam Kellogg Joint Venture Safety Culture Survey Procedures UK HSE Management of Change Walking Farm safety Call Centers SPE HSE Innovation Award Total Radiation Sources Safety Management Program Incident Investigation Safety Awards Safety Alert MSDS CSB Australian OSH Codes of Practice Shale Gas Unconventional Gas HSE Leadership Safety Moment Safe Operating Procedure (SOP) Hot work Driving Safety Office Safety Hazard Awareness Supervision Work in Confined Spaces PPE Aviation Safety BP Rail Safety Rosedale Abbey Santos OHS Law TK Shipping Ladder Safety WMC Resources Manual handling Safety "one per-center's" Global Harmonized System Woodside NOPSEMA Toolbox talk ENI Australia Chevron Health Nanotechnology Hierarchy of Safety Control Fatigue Management NORM NOPSA Safety Conference Sakhalin Energy Shell Road Transport Risk Management Workplace bullying Risk Tool Box Hospital Safety Drilling Mining OSHA WA Resources Safety Unconventional Oil Nautronix Safe at Home Water Corporation BHP Billiton Best bars in the oil patch Unconventional Hydrocarbons Risk Assessment Newfield Psycho-social Hazards Natural Hazard Working at height Safety PowerPoint Presentation Hazard Spotting


Blog / Terms of Use / Site Map / Disclaimer / Risk Management Tool Box 2009. All rights reserved. Web design by Luminosity. E-Commerce by JStores.