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Definition of ‘confined space’ within working environments.

A confined space is not always a small or narrow area. There are various environments where a person may require them to work or move in an area where the movements are restricted or where light is limited. Such situations may include working in tunnels/ shafts, roof areas, tanks, drain wells, pipes, chimneys, silos or underground sewers'.

Risks associated in working within confined spaces include:

  • Injury arising from a fire, explosion or excess of oxygen. 
  • Increase in body temperature may result in dizziness or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of consciousness or breathing difficulties arising from gas, fume, vapour or lack of oxygen.
  • Possibility of coming in contact with rising water or liquids. 
  • Asphyxiation arising from engulfment of plastics, liquids, fertiliser, grain, coal, fly ash, animal feed, sewage etc.

If an employee is required to work in a confined space then they should be trained to be able to undertake a full risk assessment and be prepared with the correct equipment including breathing apparatus, gas detectors and protective clothing. They should also be able to act calmly and effectively if an emergency does occur.

'Employers must adequately protect their staff and provide them with the correct knowledge and tools to ensure that they return home safely at the end of each day.' 

USI Information

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