What is a confined space?
A confined space means a fully or partially enclosed space
- that is not designed nor constructed for continuous human occupancy
- in which atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents, or because of work that is done in it
Examples of potential confined spaces include:
- tanks, drums
- tank cars, holds
- manholes, sewers, shafts
- silos, bins, hoppers
- tunnels, culverts
- vaults, lockers
- cellars, pits
- vats, tanks, vessels, tubs
- ditches, wells, walls, pits
- pipelines, ducts
What the law says
You need to develop a written confined space program for confined spaces in your workplace. There are three parts to a confined space program:
- Part one: Recognize or identify a confined space
- Part two: Assess the confined space hazards
- Part three: Control the hazards by
- developing a plan for the confined space
- providing general training for workers
- creating a permit system
Refer to the Confined Space Guideline on the Ministry of Labour’s website for additional information on how to recognize and assess your confined space, and on how to create your confined space plan.
How having a confined space program can help your business
Failing to recognize a workspace as a confined space or understand its related hazards could lead to catastrophic injury or death, negatively affecting your employee morale, reputation and production. You may also be subject to penalties, fines or prison terms if convicted because of a violation under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
What you can do
According to the Canadian Standards Association, implementing proper safety precautions can prevent 85 per cent of all confined space incidents. Orders written by Ministry of Labour inspectors indicate that many employers need to
- rigorously assess hazards
- prepare (or update) a written plan based on the hazards found
- provide training to supervisors and workers
- hold supervisors accountable for properly and consistently addressing the hazards
Review the Confined Spaces Guideline for guidance on how to proceed. Contact your health and safety provider for assistance.