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Date PostedSeptember 30, 2014

Avoiding Incidents when working in Confined Spaces


Source: http://sourceable.net/confined-spaces/

Builders are often exposed to work in confined spaces within the construction industry

A recent article on the Construction Industry website Sourceable.net discussed the importance of addressing work in confined spaces. As the writer points out each year a great number of people across Oz and the globe are killed while working in a confined space.

Injuries and fatalities related to work in confined spaces can occur across most industries but especially in the construction sector. It is one of the hazards that is covered by the White Card Course but because the training only covers the issue in brief, it is important that employers provide additional training, instruction and supervision on this kind of work if necessary.

Work in confined spaces is considered to be high risk and high consequence environments on their own but when chemicals and gases are added to these places, those risks are magnified.

According to the Sourceable.net article more than 60 per cent of reported confined space fatalities occur when the person trying to do the rescuing actually ends up losing their life. Obviously people need to be more educated about this hazard and what to do in the case of an emergency.

The article on Sourceable.net provided a detailed explanation on a confined space which workers could find useful,

Confined spaces include spaces such as those in a vat, tank, pit, pipe, duct, flue, oven, chimney, silo, reaction vessel, container, receptacle, underground sewer, well, shaft, trench, tunnel or other similar enclosed or partially enclosed structure, which meet certain conditions.

However, many other types of structures may also meet the definition of a confined space provided in the Regulations.

Some structures may become confined spaces when work that generates atmospheric contaminants is carried out or during their construction, fabrication or subsequent modification.

A confined space is determined by the hazards associated with a set of defined circumstances (restricted entry or exit, hazardous atmospheres or risk of engulfment) and not just by the fact that work is performed in a physically restrictive location. The effect of physical or chemical agents may be exacerbated in a confined space.

See more at: http://sourceable.net/confined-spaces/#sthash.QcvEZ82O.dpuf

The article also goes on to describe the main risks that are associated with work in confined spaces which include:

  • Injury, death or loss of consciousness as a result of the immediate effects of airborne contaminants
  • Ignition of flammable contaminants resulting fire or explosion.
  • Oxygen deficiency can lead to asphyxiation
  • Asphyxiation can also be caused from engulfment by stored material, including grain, sand, flour or fertiliser.

The most crucial step in managing these risks is controlling them by either eliminating them completely or substituting with some method that is less hazardous. If this is not possible, risks must be minimised as far as is reasonably practicable.

It is important that if work in the confined space cannot be completely eliminated from the work process, then a safe system of work must be established. As the writer highlights this must be done by using the risk management process of

  1. Identifying
  2. Assessing
  3. Controlling hazards

Determining the controls necessary will involve identifying the hazards that exist. The controls need to minimise any risk associate with work in the confined space and therefore those responsible for implementing these controls need to consider:

The nature of the space

The concentration of oxygen or airborne contaminants

The work and work method

Emergency procedures

Source: http://sourceable.net/confined-spaces/#sthash.QcvEZ82O.dpuf

For more information visit: See more at: http://sourceable.net/confined-spaces/#sthash.QcvEZ82O.dpuf





Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

Posted in White Card, White Card Construction Site Safety Articles

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