On average, work in confined spaces kills 15 people every year in the UK across a wide range of industries, from those involving complex plant through to simple storage vessels. In addition, a number of people are seriously injured and those killed or injured include not only people working in the confined space but those who try to rescue them without proper training and equipment.
What is a confined space?
A confined space can be any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions (e.g. lack of oxygen).
It is not possible to provide a comprehensive list of confined spaces as some places may become confined spaces when work is carried out, or during their construction, fabrication or subsequent modification. Some confined spaces are fairly easy to identify, e.g. enclosures with limited openings, for example, storage tanks, silos, enclosed drains and sewers. Others may be less obvious, but can be equally dangerous, for example, open-topped chambers, ductwork, unventilated or poorly ventilated rooms.
At the University
The University only has a limited number of 'confined spaces' as defined by the Confined Space Regulations. All work within these areas is controlled by Property and Campus Services (PACS).
All Colleges and Services are reminded that work within or on the fabric of a building or its services must be carried out by, or be under the control of PACS.
If a space and / or the work to be carried out means the work area will be defined as a ‘confined space’, The Confined Space at Work Regulations come into effect and which place stringent stipulations and duties to control the risks arising from such work. In summary duties include:
- avoid entry to confined spaces, e.g. by doing the work from the outside;
- if entry to a confined space is unavoidable, follow a safe system of work;
- put in place adequate emergency arrangements before the work starts; and
- specific competency, skills and experience requirements for workers
Further information on the requirements is available on the HSE Website.
Unless under the direct control of PACS and a Permit to Work: Please contact Health and Safety before carrying out any work you feel may be defined as confined space working.