SC11 - Confined spaces
Work in confined spaces
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On average 15 people a year are killed in the UK during work in confined spaces and more are seriously injured. The fatalities are not just confined to complex plant, work in simple storage vessels is just as hazardous. Those killed also include people who try to rescue trapped personnel without proper training and equipment.
The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 are in place to protect staff and others against risks to their health while working in a confined space.
This policy outlines the steps to be taken by STFC to ensure that staff or others do not work in confined spaces where it can be avoided. Where this is not possible a written suitable and sufficient risk assessment must be undertaken and a safe system of work developed.
This policy is applicable to all staff, users, contractors and tenants working in confined spaces within STFC.
The regulations do not apply to "any place below ground in a mine". However this code should be adhered to within any STFC facility housed in any mine or underground, for example CERN or Boulby Mine.
3.1 Confined space
Confined Space: means any place such as ducts, vessels, culverts, tunnels, boreholes, manholes, excavations, sumps, inspection pits, experimental hutches, tanks, building voids or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of:
- serious injury from fire or explosion;
- loss of consciousness arising from increased body temperature;
- loss of consciousness or asphyxiation arising from gas, fume, vapour or lack of oxygen;
- drowning arising from increased levels of liquid; or
- asphyxiation from a free flowing solid.
4.1 Line Managers and Supervisors shall:
4.1.1 Ensure that every effort is made to avoid entry into a confined space. Where entry into any confined space cannot be avoided, a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health must be carried out in accordance with STFC SHE Code No 6 'Risk Management, see Appendix 1. See Appendix 2and 3 (PDF - 42kB - link opens in a new window) for guidance on carrying out such assessments and for a completed example.
4.1.2 Ensure that, prior to entry into a confined space, a written safe system of work, including emergency procedures, has been developed (see Appendix 4 for an example safe system of work) and a confined space permit to work issued by an authorised confined space permit to work issuer, see Appendix 5and 7 (PDF - 24kB - link opens in a new window).
4.1.3 Ensure that all staff involved in entry into confined spaces are aware of this code, understand its content and comply with local procedures and safe systems of work.
4.1.4 Ensure all staff who will enter a confined space are fit to do so.
4.1.5 Ensure that all staff who enter confined spaces and those who issue permits to work, have appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision in confined spaces working (see Appendix 5).
4.2 Confined space permit to work issuers shall:
4.2.1 Only issue confined space permits where they are competent to do so having successfully completed training defined in Appendix 5. They shall not issue permits for work they are going to carry out themselves unless this has been countersigned by another confined space permit to work issuer.
4.2.2 Assess all associated risks involved in the entry into a confined space, develop a safe system of work and issue a confined space permit, ensuring all necessary precautions, including emergency procedures, are taken, see Appendix 2, appendix 3 (PDF - 42kB - link opens in a new window), appendix 4 and appendix 7 (PDF - 24kB - link opens in a new window).
4.2.3 Oversee the issue of any permit and its cancellation and check safety at each stage of the work.
4.3 Employees shall:
4.3.1 Assist with the assessment of risks and comply with any safe system of work developed through risk assessment and comply with any requirements of a confined space permit to work.
4.3.2 inform line management of any known health issues that may preclude them from working in a confined space.
4.3.3 Inform their managers if they suspect that the system of work in place, or planned, could be ineffective or inadequate. Report all incidents, including near misses, procedural failures or equipment defects, in accordance with SHE Code 5 "Incident Reporting and Investigation" using the STFC incident reporting system (SHE enterprise).
4.4 Directors Shall:
4.4.1 ensure that only competent persons are authorised as "confined space permit to work issuers"; see Appendix 5 for training requirements. Appointment of "confined space permit to work issuers" should be documented and a copy of the appointment documentation should be sent to the authorised person and the local SHE group.
4.5 SHE Group shall:
4.5.1 maintain and make available to staff a list of authorised persons competent to issue confined space permits.
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