SAFed Health and Safety Passport Scheme
Module 16 — Confined Spaces
forms one of a series of modules on various health and safety subjects that
comprise the examinable material considered necessary for the award of the
SAFed Health and Safety Passport.
When you have
studied this module you should have acquired sufficient knowledge to be able
to answer the questions detailed at the end of the module. Upon satisfactory completion of all modules, you will be
eligible to undertake the final assessment for the award of the SAFed Health
and Safety Passport.
Health and Safety Passport is issued to Engineer Surveyors by the Health and
Safety Manager of their employing company upon satisfactory completion of the
Safety Passport final assessment.
The award of
the SAFed Health and Safety Passport provides evidence that the holder of the
Passport has the appropriate knowledge and awareness in health and safety
matters considered necessary for an Engineer Surveyor to undertake the duties
for which they are authorised by their employing company.
is valid for a maximum of three years.
16.2 Key Objectives
Having studied the module you
should have an awareness of:
Legislation applicable to Confined
Precautions necessary before entry to a
confined space is considered
to confined spaces
Under the Health and Safety at
Work etc. Act 1974 (Section 2(2)[a]) companies have to provide and maintain
safe systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and
without risk to health. Further
requirements for safe systems of work following upon risk assessments are
contained in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999,
which also place duties on employees to follow the systems and procedures set
up for their protection following risk assessments.
Spaces Regulations 1997 require employers to: -
a safe system of work if entry is unavoidable; and
rescuers and make adequate emergency arrangements before starting work.
The Control of Substances
Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 require the employer to eliminate or
control exposure to substances which may be hazardous to health and to provide
the appropriate information, instruction and training to those who may be
16.4 What is a Confined Space?
A confined space 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).
Some confined spaces are fairly easy to identify;
e.g. enclosures with limited openings:
Others may be less obvious, but can be equally dangerous, for example:
Combustion chambers in furnaces etc.
or poorly ventilated rooms
pits (Under certain circumstances)
16.5 Hazard Identification
What are the Dangers from Confined Spaces?
Dangers can arise in confined spaces because of specified risk namely:
· A lack of oxygen — This can occur:
steel tanks and vessels when rust forms;
ships’ holds, freight containers, lorries etc as a result of the cargo
reacting with oxygen inside the space.
deficiency monitors are one of many was of detecting (and protecting) against
oxygen deprivation, these are designed to give a pulsating audible alarm
automatically if the oxygen level should fall to a dangerous level.
Normal air contains 20.9% oxygen; oxygen levels below 19.5% by volume
are considered unsafe and should this fall below 18%, immediate corrective
measures must be taken.
· Oxygen Enrichment — This can occur from damaged hoses on oxygen acetylene welding / burning equipment
· Poisonous gas, fumes or vapour — These can:
tanks or vessels from connecting pipes;
in sewers and manholes and in pits connected to the system.
monoxide is one of many poisonous gases that is considered extremely
dangerous, primarily because it is odourless, colourless and tasteless, which
makes it extremely difficult to detect. Should
the atmospheric concentration of carbon monoxide exceed 3%, immediate
corrective measures must be taken.
· Liquids and solids — which can suddenly fill the space, or release gases into it, when disturbed. Free flowing solids such as grain can also partially solidify or ‘bridge’ in silos causing blockages, which can collapse unexpectedly.
· Residues — left in tanks, vessels etc, or remaining on internal surfaces, which can give off gas, fume or vapour.
· Dust may be present in high concentrations, e.g. in flour silos.
· Serious injury from fire or explosion
· Increase in body temperature resulting in unconsciousness
16.6 Safe Practices
It is the policy of member companies to take all reasonable steps to secure the health and safety of employees who are required to make entry into confined spaces. Member companies acknowledge that health and safety hazards may arise when entry into confined spaces is required. It is the intention of the member companies to ensure that any risks are reduced to a minimum.
Member companies will provide sufficient information, instruction and training as is necessary to ensure the health and safety of employees who are required to enter into confined spaces and Engineer Surveyors should note that in all cases a second person should be in attendance outside the confined space at all times.
Should entry to a confined space necessitate the need for Breathing Apparatus, member companies shall ensure that individual Engineer Surveyors involved will receive the essential specialist training required.
entering Confined Spaces
Whenever possible, check if the examination to be carried out can be done another way so that entry into confined spaces is avoided, for example: -
and sampling operations can often be done from outside the space using
appropriate equipment, tools and techniques;
cameras can, in certain circumstances, be used for internal inspection of
Wherever possible entry into confined spaces should
be avoided; however where this cannot be avoided, with the proper precautions
in place, there is no reason why Engineer Surveyors should not safely enter
confined spaces during the course of their work.
The following 3 steps below will help to ensure that
work is without significant risk.
much information about the confined space as possible, including details of
any previous contents and their associated hazards.
enter a confined space without the knowledge of others.
prepare thoroughly for work and adhere strictly to the rules of any permit to
work system that applies.
Arrangements for emergency rescue will depend on the
nature of the confined space, the risks identified and the likely nature of an
emergency rescue. To be suitable
and sufficient the arrangements for rescue and resuscitation should include
and resuscitation equipment;
the alarm and rescue;
emergency services; and
of safe procedures
who is in
charge of the job?
responsibilities overlap with anyone else’s?
anything, which is not someone’s responsibility?
testing the atmosphere for oxygen level and/or toxic fumes been carried out?
confined space been isolated to prevent ingress of harmful agents (e.g. gases,
vapours, liquids and free-flowing solids, etc?
electrical and mechanical isolation been carried out?
anyone checked that the equipment is right for the job?
ways of doing the job already in place?
this job interfere with the health and safety of others?
working procedures laid down for the job?
people been trained and instructed in the use and limitations of equipment?
job cannot be finished today can it be left in a safe state?
instructions available for the next shift?
production people aware of what maintenance staff are doing and vice versa?
might go wrong, e.g. accident, explosion, food poisoning, electrocution, fire,
release of radioactivity, chemical spill?
End of module and next steps
By reaching this point you will have finished studying this particular
module. You should now have
sufficient knowledge to answer the questions contained at the end of the module.
the questions should be forwarded to your Health and Safety Manager.
you have answered the questions correctly, your Health and Safety Manager will
forward to you your next self study module.
Click here to answer questions on Module 16