Solid work health and safety (WHS) practice is imperative to the success of any organisation. An unsafe workplace puts employees at risk, compromises their ability to carry out everyday tasks and makes the company vulnerable to financial loss.

The first step towards making your workplace safer is identifying hazards. Seeing as confined spaces are present in so many Australian workplaces, let's have a look at how you can identify a space that qualifies and who's responsible for managing the risks involved. 

Spotting a confined space is the first step towards managing its risk.
Spotting a confined space is the first step towards managing risk.

What's the definition of a confined space?

SafeWork NSW offers a succinct definition of a confined space in their code of practice. The following are listed as identifiers of confined spaces:

  • The space is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person; 
  • Is, or is designed to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; 
  • Is likely to be a risk to safety from an atmosphere that does not have a safe oxygen level; and
  • From airborne contaminants, including airborne gases, as well as dusts fire, explosion, or engulfment.

Identifying these spaces and putting procedures in place will make your workplace safer, and could even save someone's life. Only 15 per cent of workplaces that suffer confined space fatalities have confined spaces procedures in place, so taking the right steps will certainly make a difference.

Who has health and safety duties in these spaces?

Only 15 per cent of workplaces that suffer confined space fatalities have confined spaces procedures in place.

Knowing who's responsible for worker safety makes the process of confined spaces training and the introduction of procedures straightforward. According to SafeWork NSW the person who's conducting the business (i.e the owner, or CEO) has the primary duty under WHS law. This means that it's their responsibility to ensure procedures are in place, and that workers are adequately trained and safe. 

The officers or managers in a business are also obliged to excercise due diligence to ensure that their workspace complies with all relevant laws. Lastly the employee or the worker has the responsibility to take reasonable care, comply with safety instructions and of course follow any training they've had. 

As you can see, the responsibility for implementing proper work health and safety runs from the top to the bottom of any organisation. To protect your employees, your bottom line and your business, sign up for Alertforce's nationally recognised confined spaces training today. 

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