Confined spaces present risks to people who work in them such as poor ventilation, allowing hazardous atmospheres to quickly develop. The risks are usually heightened in smaller spaces which is why the NSW government is warning about the dangers of confined spaces.
A lack of oxygen is usually the biggest risk but there are also risks of explosions or airborne contaminants which can present a risk. Workers can also become swallowed up in floor water, sewerage, dirt or smoke depending on the confined space.
Examples of these confined spaces include tanks, pipes, pits, chimneys, silos, sewers, shafts, wells, pressure vessels, trenches and tunnels and vats.
There are specific requirements for employers, employees as well as designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers, installers etc.
Employers are required to assess the risks and address these risks, either eliminating them or minimising them. They must also issue permits to people required to enter the confined space detailing the space and work.
Employers will also have to erect signs and barricades, communicate with and monitor people inside, as well as ensure the air inside is safe.
It’s also important that ignition sources are eliminated and emergency procedures are in place in case of an incident.
Employers are also required to train workers and provide them with the necessary PPE and equipment, as well as keep this equipment in good working order.
For more information visit https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/hazards-a-z/confined-spaces