SOP. Working in Confined Spaces

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1 Purpose This procedure outlines the requirements for the management of entry into confined spaces in all work areas with the intention of minimising risks to health and safety from any potential hazards associated with the entry. This procedure should be read in conjunction with the WHS Regs 2011 (Part 4.3 Clauses 62-80) and Australian Standard AS Confined Spaces. It is the responsibility of all competent persons, to ensure that an appropriate risk assessment is undertaken prior to entry of a confined space. Scope This Procedure includes all Management, Employees, Contractors and Visitors that are going to complete work in a confined space. These personnel will co-ordinate their work to ensure the contents of this procedure operate according to the steps outlined. Definitions Atmospheric Monitoring is the continuous measurement of oxygen levels or selected atmospheric contaminants over an uninterrupted duration of time. Competent person is a person who has, through a combination of training, education and experience, acquired knowledge and skills enabling that person to perform correctly a specified task in relation to confined space. Confined Space - Examples of confined spaces are as follows: (a) Storage tanks, tank cars, process vessels, boilers, pressure vessels, silos and other tank- like compartments, (b) open-topped spaces such as pits or degreasers, (c) Pipes, sewers, shafts, ducts and similar structures. Contaminant any dust, fume, mist, vapour, biological matter, gas or other substance in liquid or solid form, the presence of which may be harmful to health and safety Entry (to a confined space) when a person s head, i.e. the breathing zone or upper body is within the boundary of the confined space Hot work welding, thermal or oxygen cutting, heating, including fire-producing or spark-producing operations that may increase the risk of fire or explosion Standby person a competent person assigned to remain on the outside of, and in close proximity to, the confined space and capable of being in continuous communication with and, if practical, to observe those inside. In addition, where necessary, initiate emergency response procedures and operate and monitor equipment used to ensure safety during entry and work in the confined space. Confined space entry permit a document which permits entry to or work in a confined space. References WHS Act (NSW) 2011 WHS Regs (NSW) 2011 Part 4.3 Clauses AS Confined Spaces FR-072 Confined Space Risk Assessment Form RS-034 Confined Space Register FR-079 Confined Space Entry Permit Form RS-089 Confined Space Rescue Plan [ T y p e t h e c o m p a n y a d d r e s s ] Page 1

2 Procedure Only competent persons shall undertake confined space entry and standby duties. The responsibility of safe work practices, risk assessment and completing the written authority is with the competent person who enters the confined space. Identification All confined spaces at the workplace shall be identified on a Confined Space Register (RS-034) Signage of Confined Spaces The entry points to identified confined spaces are to be signposted and secured (where necessary) against unauthorised entry. At a minimum all confined spaces will comply with AS 1319 and be conspicuously marked: Danger: Confined Space Entry by Permit only. Prior to any person entering a confined space, and during any occupancy of the confined space, appropriate signs and protective barriers shall be erected to prevent entry of persons not involved in the work. Signs should warn against entry by persons other than those authorised to enter a confined space. Signs should also indicate that entry is permitted after signing the written authority for entry. Signs are only required to be erected for the preparation of the work in a confined space, during work in a confined space and for completion of the work. Portable signs can be used where spaces are entered on an occasional or infrequent space basis. Risk Assessment A risk assessment shall be undertaken by a competent person or persons before work associated with the confined space is carried out. The assessment shall be in writing (RS-072) and take into account at least the following: The nature and inherent hazards of the confined space. The work required to be done, including the need to enter the confined space. Hazardous services connected to the confined space are identified and isolated to prevent hazardous situations. The hazards involved and associated risks involved with the actual method selected and the equipment proposed to be used. Emergency response procedures. The competence of the persons to undertake the work. The risk assessment shall be revised whenever there is evidence to indicate that it is no longer valid. Where multiple similar confined spaces in which similar work is performed are present and the risk factors are identical, a generic risk assessment may be appropriate. [ T y p e t h e c o m p a n y a d d r e s s ] Page 2

3 Written Authority (Permit to Work) for Entry (FR-079 Confined Space Entry Permit Form) A Written Authority (Permit to Work) must always be completed prior to any work being carried out in a confined space. Approval shall NOT be granted until: Permit for work has been completed and confined space work area identified. A completed risk assessment / SWMS of the task have been provided by a competent person. Measures to control the identified hazards have been established Personnel entering the confined space are identified and competency verified. Supervisor appointed for the confined space work competent person. Emergency procedures have been determined and are in place. Provision of a standby person (where the element of risk requires that a standby person should be provided). No work shall be carried out within a confined space, or on the outside surface of a confined space, if the work or any plant is likely to cause or create a risk: To the health and safety of a person in the confined space, or Of fire or explosion. The completed permit for work should be located closer to the work area while the task in the confined space is being completed. Atmospheric Monitoring If a risk assessment indicates the need for atmospheric monitoring this will be carried out by a person deemed to be competent. No person shall enter a confined space to conduct atmospheric testing or monitoring without a written authority. Results of any monitoring shall be recorded on the confined space entry permit. Monitoring results shall be made available to all staff that may have to enter the confined space. If purging is required, no personnel are to enter the confined space until a suitable agent has been used to displace the contaminants. An employer must ensure that pure oxygen or gas mixture in a concentration of more than 21% of oxygen in volume is not used for purging. Breathing Apparatus Equipment used in confined space entry must conform to AS/NZS 1715 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices; AS/NZS 1716 Respiratory Protective Devices and AS/NZS 2074 Portable cylinders for resuscitators and self-contained breathing apparatus (non-underwater) safety guide. Rescue and First Aid Procedures Appropriate emergency response and first aid procedures and provisions shall be identified, documented (RS- 089) planned, established and regularly rehearsed and implemented in response to an emergency in a confined [ T y p e t h e c o m p a n y a d d r e s s ] Page 3

4 space. Where a risk assessment has determined the need for emergency response greater than that in the emergency response procedures, individual procedures will be planned, established and regularly tested. Emergency personnel MUST be immediately notified if rescue from a confined space is required. All persons undertaking confined space rescue must be trained and qualified sufficiently fit to carry out their task, ready at hand and capable of using any equipment provided for rescue e.g. breathing apparatus, lifelines and fire-fighting equipment. Rescuers also need to be protected against the cause of the emergency. The standby person under no circumstances should attempt to enter the confined space, unless properly trained and equipped to deal with an emergency and there are other personnel outside the confined space to assist. There are several steps that rescuers must follow before, during and after a confined space rescue. These include: - Size up the incident - Monitor the atmosphere - Ventilation - Communications - Respiratory Protection - Retrieval Lines & Mechanical Device and; - Lighting To protect the rescue team, entrants need to determine which hazards exist. This can be determined by viewing the initial entry permit. This document will reveal the initial atmospheric monitoring results, equipment in the space, number of entrants in the space, initial entrants entry time and reason for the entry (Note: Use this information as a guide only). Prior to rescue, a confined space permit MUST be completed by the rescuer. If identified through follow up testing of the atmosphere the need for ventilation or purging systems to be employed, prior to entry this will be undertaken in order to maintain a safe atmosphere. To ventilate the area, a natural, forced supply, forced exhaust, or a combination of forced supply and exhaust ventilation should be used. The intention is to keep the air clean for not just the victim(s), but also the rescuer because it can buy more time in the rescue attempt and keep everyone alive. Atmospheric monitoring must be conducted continually whilst you are in the confined space and results documented on the permit or checklist. Sound communication processes will assist in the rescue process. Methods of communication could include the use of portable radios, electronic hardwire systems, voice and hand signals, rope signals, light signals, personal alarm devices and tapping codes. Make sure that the preferred means of communication is identified and confirmed during the pre-entry briefing. Rescues should never be attempted without a proper rescue plan and appropriate safety equipment, such as self-contained breathing apparatus and the provision of rescue harness. Lifelines attached to harnesses MUST run back to a point outside the confined space. Alternatively, mechanical aids should be used in the rescue process & stretchers to be accessible for use and retrieval of the victim. Ensure that the opening(s) and entry to and egress from the confined space are of adequate size to permit the rescue of all persons who may be in the space and that these openings are not obstructed by fittings or equipment that could impede the rescue of persons. If this cannot be done, another suitable means of rescue must be provided. [ T y p e t h e c o m p a n y a d d r e s s ] Page 4

5 Training All persons with work activities related to a confined space shall be trained and assessed as competent to perform those activities. The training must be undertaken by an approved training provider and include at least the following: The hazards associated with confined spaces. Risk assessment procedures Control measures Emergency procedures The selection, use, fit and maintenance of safety equipment and; Legislative requirements All trained persons shall have their competency reassessed annually to ensure their ongoing competency to perform the activities relevant to their entry and the work associated with confined spaces. Record Keeping All risk assessments and written authorities to enter confined spaces are to be forwarded to administration for filing. a) Entry permits are to be kept for 1 month after return of the confined space for service. b) Risk assessment to be kept for 5 years after the date of preparation. c) Employee training records to be kept for the term of employment. [ T y p e t h e c o m p a n y a d d r e s s ] Page 5

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