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Need-to-know tips for a confined space risk assessment

[fa icon="calendar"] 11/29/17 5:45 PM / by SAMTRAC


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It’s simple – if you plan to work within a confined space, or part of your work will take place within a confined space, you need to be aware of all the attendant risks. Many work incidents or accidents happen in confined spaces each year. In many instances, victims are not aware of the risks or that the control measures they implemented were inadequate.


Despite what the name implies, a confined space is not necessarily small and can be found in most workplaces. A confined space is essentially a place not intended for human occupancy, where it is difficult to enter or exit, and involves risks such as:

  • elevators
  • vats
  • hoppers
  • service galleries
  • tanks
  • sewers
  • pipelines
  • access shafts
  • tankers and tank cars
  • airplane wings
  • boilers
  • manholes
  • manure pits, and
  • storage tanks.


The above list is proof that you can’t assume that the term ‘confined space’ doesn’t apply to any area of your workplace. And it’s for this reason, that we are bringing you the need-to-know tips of conducting a thorough risk assessment of a confined space.


What to include in a confined spaces risk assessment form

Part 1: General description of work

Location of work  
General description  
Who will be carrying out the work?  
Dimensions of the confined space  


Part 2: Hazards

Question Answer Is there a risk to those who will work in the area?
What is/was stored in the confined space?    
Is there any chemical residue?    
Are there materials or substances likely to enter from adjacent processes?    
What are the dimensions of the confined space?    
Are harmful or explosive substances likely to be present?    
Are flammable or toxic gases or vapours likely to be present?    
Can power supplies be isolated?    
Is there a danger of explosion?    
Will sources of ignition be introduced?    
Can work take place without the need for PPE?    
Will any combustible materials be present?    
Will there be extreme temperatures or humidity?    


Part 3: Emergency arrangements


Question Answer Is there a risk to those who will work in the area?
Are there arrangements for safe entry and exit?    
Is suitable rescue equipment provided?    
Can the alarm be raised in the event of an emergency?    
Are fire extinguishers provided where there is a risk of fire?    
Can nearby plant and equipment be isolated?    
Are there suitable first aid arrangements?    


Part 4: Method statement


This method statement takes account of the risks you’ve identified during the risk assessment.


Competence of operatives  
Means of communication  
Testing/monitoring the atmosphere  
Gas purging  
Removal of residues  
Isolation from gases, liquids, etc.  
Mechanical/electrical isolation  
Work equipment  
PPE (including RPE)  
Access and egress  
Fire prevention  
Static electricity  
Emergencies and rescue  
Work time restrictions  
Prohibitions (the following activities are not permitted)
  • Smoking
  • The use of internal combustion engines
  • The use of portable gas cyclinders
  • Welding
Other relevant information  
Signature of assessor  
Date of assessment  


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Topics: Safety, Workplace safety, HSE best practice, Confined spaces, Risk assessment



SAMTRAC International is the leading occupational health, safety and environment (HSE) management e-learning training course that provides students with the foundational and fundamental knowledge critical to occupational HSE management.

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