The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997

What these regulations say-

Duties;

Employers must ensure compliance with the provisions of these Regulations in respect of any work carried out by his employees; and

Ensure compliance, so far as is reasonably practicable, with the provisions of these Regulations in respect of any work carried out by persons other than his employees insofar as the provisions relate to matters which are within his control.

Work Control

No person at work shall enter a confined space to carry out work for any purpose unless it is not reasonably practicable to achieve that purpose without such entry.

Emergency Controls

All confined space is to be planned in a way that ensures, in the case of an emergency, workers can exit the confined space safely. This basically means that a confined space rescue plan needs to be prepared and suitable for the work.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

What these regulationss say-

Risk Assessment

All employers shall ensure a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is carried out for all confined space tasks.

Principles of Prevention are to be applied to all risk assessments and work tasks during the planning stage of the work.

H&S Arrangements

Suitable arrangements are in place throughout the business to ensure people work safely. Including organisational structure, suitable training, appointing competent people etc.

Safe work in confined spaces

Confined Spaces Regulations 1997. Approved Code of Practice, Regulations and guidance

This document is to be used successfully manage confined spaces and confined space work.

Duty holders and appointing competent people is detailed in this document.

This ACoP details specifics regarding the risk assessment process including;

  • Condition and overall structure of confined space
  • Additional hazards in the confined space (chemicals, water ingress, live services etc).
  • Permit to work details
  • Competence of individuals
  • Testing/monitoring local atmospheres
  • Ventilation and purging.

Another really useful piece of information is to ensure that all confined spaces are identified and assessed (stored on a register) so that all work can be safely planned.

My main advice would be to ensure the appropriate people are appointed and suitable qualified/experienced personnel make decisions on confined space work. Ensure that a robust permit to work system is to implemented. Gas checks, gas checks, gas checks!!!! This is essential. Emergency preparedness- for high risk confined space work, think about a third party rescue team or training in-house employees to carry this out. And of course, minimise the entry into confined spaces- can work be done externally/alternatively?!

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