Confined Space Risk Assessment
Use a mobile app to ensure the safety of workers deployed in confined spaces
Use a mobile app to ensure the safety of workers deployed in confined spaces
Published 17 Sep 2021
Confined space risk assessments are systematic processes that ensure proper safety and evacuation procedures are followed and necessary permits acquired when working in confined spaces. Confined space risk assessment templates and safety checklist are used to check and record atmosphere testing, adequate ventilation, PPE usage, staff signatures, and permit documentation.
Use this confined space risk assessment template to identify hazards that are existing or likely to be present when working in confined spaces. Use this template to initially classify a confined space based on OSHA’s description. Once verified, proceed with assessing the risks associated with the access area, atmosphere, electrical equipment used and PPE. Describe emergency processes to be taken during worst case scenarios. Complete the inspection by listing the people involved in the process. Get them to sign using iAuditor's electronic signature feature.
This article will briefly discuss:
There are three specific criteria that an area must meet in order to be called a confined space.
The term “confined space” is a broad term that covers a variety of spaces. There may be several confined spaces in your workplaces, depending on the type of business. There are confined spaces that present immediate health hazards or endanger a worker’s life upon entry. On the other hand, some provide less immediate dangers and may present little chances of causing a worker harm.
Essentially, confined spaces fall in either of these two categories—the extremely hazardous ones and the less hazardous. Dangerous confined spaces are known as permit confined spaces because they require appropriate permits, which can only be obtained after a qualified person has completed a confined space risk assessment of the specific area. The less dangerous confined spaces are referred to as non-permit confined spaces.
A permit confined space is one that has one or more of the following characteristics:
A non-permit confined space does not or could not contain hazards that could cause serious harm or death. Entering a non-permit space does not require the completion of a confined space risk assessment. Common non-permit spaces include equipment closets, drop ceilings, ventilated tunnels, and machinery cabinets.
Confined spaces are hazardous by nature due to the limited space and entry/exit points; such conditions increase the chances of a worker getting trapped inside. However, confined space hazards and precautions must always be assessed since there are other dangers associated with working in a confined space.
Conditions in a confined space are most often extremely hazardous and life threatening. This is why industries that require working in confined spaces are obligated to complete confined space risk assessments to avoid serious consequences such as injuries, accidents, or worse, fatalities. Results of the risk assessment can help you provide the necessary precautions and safety measures.
Below are 5 safety suggestions that can help in mitigating risks associated with working in confined spaces:
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Branch Labour Department, “A safe system is a formal procedure which results from systematic examination of a task in order to identify all the hazards. It defines safe methods to ensure that hazards are eliminated or risks minimised.”
Safe system of work has five steps, which are:
It’s steps are seemingly similar to a risk assessment, however, it is important to note that a risk assessment is not equivalent to a safe system of work. Thus, a risk assessment validates whether a safe work system is required. A site-specific risk assessment must be completed first to consider all foreseeable hazards associated with a task and the risks associated. Then, the safe system of work incorporates all that information to define a detailed step-by-step method of carrying out the task safely. A site specific method statement should be provided as a result, to help employees adhere to the safety methods of performing the tasks associated with working in confined spaces.
Setting up a proper ventilation system for confined spaces is an effective method to control heat and atmospheric hazards found in confined spaces. Before entering a confined space, air quality testing should be carried out and continuous monitoring should be maintained to ensure that atmospheric conditions are safe before entry.
In some cases, natural ventilation will not be as reliable and sufficient as it can also be unpredictable. Therefore, mechanical ventilation systems such as blowers and fans are recommended for use to maintain air quality.
Personal Protective Equipment or PPE are workers’ first line of defense when things go wrong on site. Employees working in confined spaces should wear proper PPE, this includes:
No matter how careful you are or how correctly you follow procedures when working in confined spaces, there will always be that possibility of an emergency arising. While emergency protocols may not directly eliminate the risks of working in a confined space, it does help in:
So, before any work starts, ensure that there are emergency arrangements in place. Emergency arrangements to prepare will depend on the risks, but should include the following:
Training is the most critical when working with confined spaces. All employees working in confined spaces should be given proper training to carry out their tasks. Their training should also include being made aware of emergency procedures.
Ensure workers are safe in confined spaces through early identification of potential risks and safety issues using iAuditor by SafetyCulture, a powerful inspection app that you can use on any mobile device. Sign up for a free account with iAuditor and enjoy the following benefits:
Use this checklist before entering a confined space. Start by filling out general information about the confined space, its type, how often it is used and the work to be performed inside. List down names of the people involved in the work and classify if it is permit-required or not. Next check if the area is free from hazards and ensure that the atmosphere is tested carefully. Evaluate if the workers are competent and trained to perform the job and if proper protective equipment (safety harness and lifelines) is worn properly. Lastly, ensure that permits are posted in the entrance of the confined space and show the names of the persons qualified to perform the job. Complete the audit by citing any safety recommendations.
This is a standard OSHA confined space safety checklist converted to iAuditor. The primary goal of this inspection is to check if safety regulations are followed by workers before, during and after work. Use iAuditor to capture significant data while inspecting the area, equipment and people involved. Share your audits with your supervisors and safety managers while on site.
Entry supervisors and duty managers are responsible for evaluating the overall safety of a confined space before getting all workers access it. This checklist can be used as a guide to make sure that important safety measures are strictly implemented. Use iAuditor’s Analytics feature to track improvement on compliance and safety.
Oftentimes, accidents and injuries are traumatic events people want to forget. However, keeping accident records updated is essential as it serves as a basis for improving safety when working in confined spaces. These logs can be used to document information of the injured person, injury details and the root cause of the accident. Emergency services and witness statements are also recorded for more detailed reporting.
Safety harnesses, lifelines and breathing apparatuses are life savers when working in confined spaces. Use this PPE checklist to determine if the required safety clothing and equipment pass quality standards. Use iAuditor to ensure that these protective equipment help workers perform their jobs safely and efficiently.
Use this confined space permit to work template before commencement of work in confined spaces. Document the agreed upon mode of communication and rescue procedures to determine emergency preparedness. Identify if safety equipment, ventillation and signage is in order. Have relevant supervisors sign off to acknowledge communication processes and safety hazards. Browse more permit to work templates here.