Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Confined space entry

A confined space is any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious
injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions (eg lack of oxygen). They include
* Storage tanks, silos and vessels;
* Enclosed drains and sewers;
* Open-topped chambers;
* Combustion chambers in furnaces etc;
* Ductwork;
* Unventilated or poorly ventilated rooms;
* Excavations

Hazards include lack of oxygen, hazardous substances either from the previous contents of the space or the work being carried out (e.g. fumes), flammable atmospheres and hot working conditions. Also, it must be recognised that rescuing someone from a confined space can be difficult due to poor access. Confined space entry must be carefully planned and controlled.

Factors to consider when planning confined space entry include

* Is it necessary?
* Are the people suitable for the task (competence and health)?
* Isolating the space from all potential sources of hazard
* Cleaning the space
* Ensuring a large enough entry
* Providing ventilation
* Testing air quality
* Provision of special tools
* Lighting
* Use of breathing apparatus if there is a risk of the air becoming unbreathable (but this must not be instead of isolation, cleaning etc.)
* Emergency plan
* Rescue equipment
* Communications


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