With a combined knowledge and experience, LRES UK Specialist Projects has over 30 years of working in confined spaces. From simple cleaning tasks, through to heavy engineering and maintenance projects.

A confined space is a place which is substantially enclosed (though not always entirely), and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby (e.g. lack of oxygen).

Working in Confined Spaces is dependent upon strict adherence to a well-devised safe system of work. Prior to any work commencing in a Confined Space, a risk assessment must be carried out and with a detailed safe system of work produced, including suitable emergency rescue arrangements.

Factors to be considered include (but are not limited to)

a)           Planning

a)           Supervision

b)           Competence for Confined Spaces working

c)           Communications

d)           Testing/monitoring the atmosphere

e)           Gas purging

f)             Ventilation

g)           Removal of residues

h)           Isolation from gases, liquids and other flowing materials

i)             Isolation from mechanical and electrical equipment

j)             Selection and use of suitable equipment

k)           PPE and RPE

l)             Portable gas cylinders and internal combustion engines

m)         Gas supplied by pipes and hoses

n)           Safe access and egress

o)           Fire prevention

p)           Lighting

q)           Electrostatic ignition

r)             Smoking

s)           Dealing with emergencies and effecting a rescue

t)             Limited working time

u)           Means of identifying those working within the Confined Space at any time

The safe system of work must be briefed to all employees engaged in working in the Confined Space.
apprentice-builders-training-in-confined-space-in-training-facilityjpg

Confined Spaces are assessed to decide on the level of risk, these are categorised as:

Low Risk Confined Spaces

A low risk confined space exists where there are easy access/egress and natural ventilation.   A low-risk shallow entry with adequate natural or mechanical ventilation, where access is simple and unobstructed and there is no likely risk of flooding, e.g. meter chambers, valve chambers, booster pumping stations, PRV chambers.

If the workplace is not deeper than 3 metres and has an unobstructed clear vertical lift e.g. straight ladder into a dark chamber then using a two-man team and remaining connected to a winch line with tripod etc then the entry may be made without the use of Escape Breathing Apparatus.

A Risk Assessment must be conducted in the planning stage and immediately prior to entry, the findings of the Risk Assessment will determine what precisely is required for entry and define the relevant control measures to be implemented. 

Medium Risk Confined Spaces

A medium risk confined space exists when there are access issues, a realistic expectation of encountering a specified risk, possible introduction of specified risks during the work activity, e.g. Flammable, toxic or an oxygen deficient environment, etc.   if relevant to the environment, employees will remain connected to the rope access system or a lifeline where it does not cause a further hazard(s), monitored by top man, and the use of escape breathing apparatus is also required in these circumstances.

When it is not possible to have persons permanently attached to a lifeline or rope access system e.g. when a team has to move away from the entry point in man entry. This type of work will involve a robust system of continuous monitoring, through the use of either a confined space rescue team, CCTV, or continuous communications/monitoring equipment and the use of escape or full breathing apparatus dependant on distance from the entry point with.

A Risk Assessment must be conducted in the planning stage and immediately prior to entry, the findings of the Risk Assessment will determine what precisely is required for entry and define the relevant control measures to be implemented. 

High Risk Confined Spaces

A high risk confined space exists where non-standard entries involving complex operations which introduce additional risks and require specific controls or there is a specified hazard that cannot be controlled or eliminated, e.g. High gas levels exceeding those prescribed in EH40, mechanical and electrical hazards, enhanced intrinsic hazards.

Specific rescue procedures are also required for this type of work activity and should be confirmed as in place prior to any high-risk entry.   There may or may not be access issues and the employee is expected to carry out their function in the presence of this specified risk, e.g. high Ammonia or Hydrogen Sulphide gas levels. Entrants must wear self-contained breathing apparatus or long duration airline breathing apparatus (a working set, NOT an escape set). 

A Risk Assessment must be conducted in the planning stage and immediately prior to entry, the findings of the Risk Assessment will determine what precisely is required for entry and define the relevant control measures to be implemented including a confined space rescue team.

LRES UK Specialist Projects provide all their staff with up to date training, meaning all employees are:

  • IRATA Rope Access Trained
  • Confined Space High Risk Entry
  • Confined Space Rescue Team Members, including Top man with breathing apparatus 
  • First Aid Trained

For further information on Confined Spaces, visit the HSE  on the link below.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/confinedspace/