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Confined Space

Definition - What does Confined Space mean?

A confined space is an area that is enclosed on all sides and has restricted entry or exit. Examples of confined spaces include vessels, storage tanks, containers, pits, manholes, sewers, cellars, chambers, silos, vats, hoppers, utility vaults, pipes, truck or rail tank cars, aircraft wings, boilers, bins ditches, and trenches.

Confined spaces are not habitable, but workers need to enter from time to time for repair and maintenance work. Since a confined space is partially or totally dark, there is lack of oxygen and the possibility of a presence of toxic and flammable gases, free flowing solids or an increasing level of liquid, it is extremely risky to work in there. Special arrangements, equipment and appropriate personal protective equipment are mandatory to work in confined spaces.

Safeopedia explains Confined Space

Confined spaces have one or more of the following hazards:

  • Oxygen deficiency - causes breathing problems and sickness
  • Oxygen enrichment - fire hazard
  • Toxic atmosphere - intoxication
  • Flammable or explosive - explosion and fire hazard
  • Flowing liquid or free flowing solids - drowning and avalanche
  • Excessive heat - heat exhaustion or sickness

The following actions are necessary prior to entering in a confined space:

  • Asses the threat - entry and exit ways, contents, oxygen deficiency or enrichment, presence of combustibles, contamination, layout plan, chances of liquid or debris and availability of light
  • A written Permission prior to work commencement
  • Preventive clothing - as appropriate
  • Working knowledge of personal and collective equipment
  • Standard operating procedure
  • Mechanical, electrical and process isolation
  • Sufficient training and instructions
  • Command, communication and emergency procedures
This definition was written in the context of Occupational Health and Safety

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