Guide

Work safely at height or in a confined space

Working safely in confined space

Confined spaces can pose certain health and safety risks for workers.

What is a confined space?

A confined space has two defining features:

  • it is a place that is substantially (though not always entirely) enclosed
  • serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby, eg a lack of oxygen

Confined spaces can include:

  • areas with limited openings such as storage tanks, silos, reaction vessels, enclosed drains, sewers
  • open-topped chambers such as vats, combustion chambers in furnaces, ductwork
  • closed, unventilated or poorly ventilated rooms

Industries that work in confined spaces

There are many types of industry which typically require employees to work in confined spaces. For example:

  • agricultural workers may have to work in silos
  • surveyors working on building sites or in domestic settings may have to crawl underneath floorboards or in cellars
  • telecommunications engineers may have to work in enclosed drains
  • workers cleaning out and maintaining storage vessels and vats
  • workers maintaining or installing equipment, service cables and pipes

Confined space safety law

You must ensure that any work carried out in a confined space, where there is a risk of serious injury, complies with the Confined Spaces Regulations.

See assess the risks of confined spaces and manage the risks posed by confined spaces.