Confined Spaces

A confined space is an enclosed or partially enclosed space that is at atmospheric pressure when someone is in there but at no time was it intended, nor designed, as someone’s primary place of work. Confined spaces may have a harmful atmosphere such as a toxic gas, or a lack of oxygen; they could be prone to flooding or they could be difficult to get in and out of, particularly in the event of an emergency. A person is deemed to have entered a confined space when their head is placed within the space. Working within a confined space is a specialised task that only trained and competent people, having been issued with a permit, should undertake. At all other times, access to such places needs to be prevented so that unauthorised persons cannot gain entry.

Where/when might these issues be relevant?

Confined spaces within DEECD Schools and workplaces may be found in ceiling cavities, storage tanks, plant rooms, open drains, pits, air-conditioning ducts and in some cases, there may be old water wells located on site.

What do I need to do?

Consult with Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees to determine whether confined spaces are present at your workplace and make sure they are appropriately signed and that access is restricted to prevent the entry of unauthorised people;

  • Make sure the necessary information is entered on the local OHS Risk Register (Excel - 1.1Mb);
  • Make sure openings for entry to and exit from a confined space are of an adequate size to allow the rescue of all persons if required in an emergency;
  • Make sure that all persons required to work in or on a confined space, or to perform associated work such as the issuing of entry permits are trained to conduct that work;
  • Before any work is conducted in or on a confined space, conduct a risk assessment to identify the hazards associated with the confined space, the work to be done and how identified risks will be controlled;
  • Make sure emergency procedures including equipment and competent rescue persons are established and implemented;
  • Conduct appropriate atmospheric testing and monitoring prior to and during work in or on a confined space;
  • Make sure that stand-by person(s) are present outside a confined space when any person is inside the confined space; and
  • Make sure that any employee or contractor who must enter a confined space on your premises is issued with an entry permit.

Please note that working in a confined space is a hazardous undertaking and must only be done by qualified and experienced contractors.

Legislation, Guidance and Codes of Practice

Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007

AS2865 (1995) Safe Working in a Confined Space.

Confined Spaces Compliance Code

Practical Guidance

DEECD Confined Space Procedure (PDF - 186Kb)

Confined Space Entry Permit (Word - 117Kb)

OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715

DEECD Regional OHS/WorkSafe Advisors

WorkSafe Victoria