Under the Confined Spaces Regulations, you must:
- carry out a risk assessment to identify potential hazards to safety caused by work in confined spaces
- assess the level of risk the hazards pose
- decide whether you need to take steps to manage these risks, including putting emergency arrangements in place
Typical hazards in confined spaces include:
- lack of oxygen
- poisonous gases
- fumes or vapours
- liquids or solids, eg grain, filling the space
- fire and explosions
- high temperature
Anyone working in confined spaces is also at risk from physical dangers such as knocking their head or limbs against protruding structures such as metal struts or wooden support beams.
While some risks may be a feature of the confined space itself, the particular work activities can cause others.
For example, fumes from welding equipment could deplete oxygen levels and increase the risk of fire or explosion.
You must train anyone working in a confined space for the task in hand. You should check that working in a confined space won’t trigger or make worse any medical conditions such as a bad back, claustrophobia or breathing problems such as asthma.
Smoking is now banned in any enclosed public places, workplaces or company vehicles used by more than one person. You must display a no-smoking sign at the entrance to your premises and in vehicles.