A confined space means an enclosed or partially enclosed space that:
- is not intended to be occupied by a person and
- is likely to involve risks to health and safety from:
- a lack of oxygen,
- contaminants such as airborne gases, vapours and dusts, or
- getting buried or crushed.
A common type of confined space in the agriculture industry is a grain silo. Common hazards associated with grain silos include:
- being buried or engulfed if the grain collapses.
- a chemical reaction that can occur with stored grain. This dramatically reduces the amount of oxygen in the air, creating an atmosphere that isn’t safe to breathe.
- the creation of combustible dust that may easily explode.
Confined spaces often have poor ventilation which allows hazardous atmospheres to quickly develop. The hazards are not always obvious and may change from one entry into the confined space to the next.
|As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must eliminate or manage the risks associated with confined spaces by eliminating the need to access a confined space wherever possible. If a confined space has to be accessed, you must minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
|Your PCBU must eliminate or minimise the risks associated with confined spaces by eliminating the need to access a confined space wherever possible. If a confined space has to be accessed, they must minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable. You also have a duty to take reasonable care of your safety and that of others in the workplace.
The model WHS Regulations include additional, specific requirements designed to keep people safe if they have to work in a confined space including:
- ensuring workers avoid entering confined spaces wherever possible
- ensuring workers have completed confined space training
- completing an entry permit
- providing signage
- providing adequate personal protective equipment
- ensuring emergency procedures are in place for rescue.
See Part 4.3 of the model WHS Regulations for more information.