A confined space is one which is both enclosed, or largely enclosed, and which also has a reasonably foreseeable risk to workers of fire, explosion, loss of consciousness, asphyxiation or drowning.
It may be small and restrictive for the worker or it could be far larger such as a grain storage silo with hundreds of cubic metre capacity.
- The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 apply where the assessment identifies risks of serious injury from work in confined spaces.
- Wherever possible, a company should avoid carrying out tasks in confined spaces. Where this is not possible, you must assess the risks of the particular confined space and plan how you will control those risks.
Dangers Can Arise in Confined Spaces due to:
- Lack of oxygen.
- The buildup of poisonous gas, fume or vapour.
- Liquids and solids which can suddenly fill the space or release gas into it when disturbed.
- Fire and explosions.
- High dust levels.
- Hot conditions.
Working in confined spaces is subject to the Management of Health and Safety At Work Regulations 1999 and the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997. Risk assessment and safe systems of work are key in the management of these risks.
You should ensure that your workers are fit to work in these environments and are able to escape safely if they need to
It is not a legal requirement to have a confined spaces medical but it is good practice to have one if you or your staff are likely to be working in this environment.
What is involved?
- Health questionnaire including questions about psychological issues such as claustrophobia.
- Height, weight, body mass index, waist and hip measurement.
- Blood pressure.
- Vision screening for near and distance.
- Standard urine test for protein and sugar.
- Lung function baseline.
- Hearing test baseline.
- Specific confined space related questions.
- Sniff/ Smell test- to see if individual can distinguish different types of odours.