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Working in confined spaces can be dangerous because of harmful levels of toxic gases and other hazardous atmospheres. Due to the health threats of working in confined spaces, workers must implement risk control methods. Here is a closer look at the requirements for working in confined spaces, including the use of entry permits.

Confined spaces are spaces with limited room for people, air, or equipment, such as tanks and vats. These spaces are fully or partially enclosed and include one or more of the following details:

  • The space isn’t designed primarily for humans.
  • The space is designed to be at normal atmospheric pressure during occupation.
  • The space poses a health or safety risk.

Usually, a confined space isn’t meant for humans and may create a health or safety risk when humans enter it. For example, a confined space may have an unsafe oxygen level or harmful concentrations of airborne contaminants.

Confined spaces include tanks, pits, ducts, vats, chimneys, containers, silos, pressure vessels, wells, sewers, trenches, shafts, and tunnels. These spaces often have limited room for proper air circulation, which increases the risk of unsafe oxygen levels. Other potential safety hazards of working in a confined space include:

  • Restricted entry or exit
  • Harmful airborne contaminants
  • Unsafe oxygen level
  • Fire and explosion
  • Engulfment
  • Biological hazards
  • Mechanical hazards
  • Electrical hazards

The potential hazards depend on the environment and type of confined space. For example, an underground sewer may present different challenges compared to working in a chimney or vat.

What Are the Confined Space Entry Permit Requirements?

Under Regulation 67 of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must not allow a worker to enter a confined space without an entry permit. An entry permit is a formal check of the confined space. It allows workers to ensure that proper safety precautions are followed.

According to the Confined Spaces Code of Practice, a person who has completed relevant training or possesses adequate experience must issue the permit. The permit is issued for situations when workers cannot eliminate the need to enter a confined space.

Requirements for Confined Space Entry Permits

The entry permit for confined spaces must include the following details and information:

  • Identification of the confined space that the permit applies to
  • The names of any workers permitted to enter the space
  • The period of time that the permit remains in operation
  • A list of risk control measures

The entry permit should clearly identify the spaces where work is to be carried out. A single permit may be used for several confined spaces or a single space with multiple access points. The permit also needs to list any risk control measures that workers need to implement and follow. Control measures may include atmosphere purging, ventilation equipment, signage, cleaning, and safety monitoring. Workers may also need to wear personal protective equipment. The permit should be displayed in a prominent spot. It should also include a record of all workers that entered and exited the confined space.

How to Prepare for Work in a Confined Space

If workers cannot avoid entering a confined space, they must follow certain steps to minimise the risks. A risk assessment allows workers to identify potential hazards and risks and implement steps to create a safer work environment. Minimising the risks of working in a confined space involves the following components:

  • Isolation
  • Atmosphere purging
  • Ventilation
  • Respiratory protective equipment
  • Communication
  • Safety monitoring
  • Entry and exit procedures
  • Signs and barricades
  • Instruction and training

Workers must first explore methods of isolation. This may involve isolating any liquids, gases, or vapours. Atmosphere purging is also often used to reduce the health risks of hazardous atmospheres. Other solutions include increasing ventilation or requiring workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Safety monitoring is necessary to detect changes in the atmosphere, such as a sudden lack of oxygen or an increase in the presence of toxic gases. Ongoing monitoring ensures that workers can reach an area with a safe oxygen level and decrease the risk of negative health effects.

Entry and exit procedures must also be thoroughly detailed. This may include requiring workers to sign in and out when entering and exiting the confined space. The permit may also detail emergency response procedures and required rescue equipment.

All confined spaces require signage and barricades. Signage is needed to inform individuals of the presence of a confined space or work being carried out. Barricades help keep unauthorised individuals away from the confined space.

How Long Does Confined Space Ticket Last?

A confined space ticket (permit) is only valid for a single shift or period of uninterrupted work. If the team stops work for the day, a new permit must be issued the following day.

The period of time that the permit remains in operation is listed on the permit. If the permit is needed for varying periods, it must be revalidated each shift or after each change in work procedures.

Does Confined Space Training Expire?

Confined space training does not technically have an expiration date. However, industry standards recommend retaking the safety course every two years.

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) and workers have duties and responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety WHS Act. These duties and responsibilities may include confined spaces training. Under the WHS Act, workers must have access to any relevant training for minimising occupational risks.

Conclusion

Working in a confined space requires specific control measures, including safety equipment, such as a breathing apparatus. An entry permit outlines the steps that workers must follow, including any engineering control methods and monitoring requirements. Understanding how to determine the right risk control methods requires training.

Finally, if you want to stay up to date with the latest confined spaces safety requirements, you need confined spaces training. AlertForce is a top choice for all your training needs. We offer reliable WHS safety training for a broad range of topics, including confined spaces.

Book confined space training today!

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