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.