Confined Spaces Management - Procedures

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1.  Purpose and Objectives

This procedure addresses the University's legal obligation under the Workplace Health and Safety Act (Qld) 1995, as it relates specifically to activities undertaken in confined spaces.

The objective is to ensure that people who enter confined spaces are aware of the associated dangers and take the necessary precautions to reduce these risks.

2.  Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Confined Space -  enclosed or partially enclosed space which

  • Is at atmospheric pressure during occupancy;
  • Is not intended or designed primarily as a place of work; and
  • May have restricted means for entry and exit; and
  • May have an atmosphere which contains potentially harmful levels of contaminant or may not have a safe oxygen level or cause engulfment.

PlanConfined Spaces Management Plan

3.  Procedures Scope/Coverage

This procedure applies to staff, students and contractors of The University of Queensland and all University sites.

4.  Procedures Statement

In accordance with the Workplace Health & Safety Act (Qld) 1995, the University aims to proactively meet its OH&S obligations through the implementation of the Confined Spaces Management Plan. This plan describes the systems developed by the University to identify and mitigate the risks associated with work in confined spaces. 

5.  Procedures for Managing Work in Confined Spaces

The following steps must be taken by the University to prevent confined space injuries and accidents in the workplace:

  • Maintain a register of confined spaces. P&F maintains a register and in some instances organisational units may be required to maintain a local register.
  • Where practicable, signpost entry points to all confined spaces to warn people of the hazards associated with entry into the space and the precautions to be taken.
  • Develop risk assessments and safe operating procedures, prior to entry of confined spaces, for the inspection, testing, cleaning, repair and any other work to be undertaken. Hazards to be considered include explosion, fire, poisoning, asphyxiation, burning, freezing, drowning, electric shock, mechanical motion, burial beneath solids, radiation and falls from heights.
  • Use a work permit system to control entry into a confined space. These work permits are issued by a responsible person (e.g. plumbing supervisor - P&F), who is designated as such, and has had training in the management of confined space entry.
  • Provide structured competency-based training to ensure that staff, contractors, supervisors, and managers develop the necessary skills to safely manage, enter, and work in a confined space. Training requirements should cover issues such as emergency entry and exit, the use of respiratory protection, first aid, lockout and isolation procedures, the use of safety equipment, fire protection, communication protocols, breathing environment safety, gas detection techniques, aptitude and fitness of individuals for entry and work within confined spaces, recognition of hazards specific to the operation or activity, and rescue methods for emergency response personnel.

6.  Responsibilities

6.1 Heads of organisational units

Heads of organisational units are responsible for the identification of confined spaces to which the plan may apply, and the subsequent implementation of the plan. Heads must advise the Occupational Health and Safety Unit of any difficulties in implementing the plan.

6.2 Supervisors of persons working in confined spaces

Supervisors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that individuals under their control are not exposed to any potentially hazardous situations from working in confined spaces;
  • Preparing documented risk assessments, detailing the steps necessary for the preparation, entry into, and working within a confined space;
  • Informing workers of the hazards associated with confined space entry;
  • Ensuring that workers are provided with training in the necessary safety procedures prior to entry; and
  • Utilising confined space entry permits to provide documentary evidence that the associated risks have been assessed and procedures followed.

6.3 Occupational Hygiene Adviser

The University Occupational Hygiene Adviser is responsible for assisting the University in implementing the plan, including providing advice on confined space identification, procedure preparation, training, ventilation and testing arrangements.

6.4 Individuals

Individuals who undertake work in confined spaces are to comply with the plan and instructions outlined in specific job procedures.

6.5 Contractors and sub-contractors

Contractors and sub-contractors are subject to the same conditions of entry to confined spaces as outlined in the plan.

6.6 Property and Facilities

Property and Facilities project officers are responsible for ensuring that contractors and sub-contractors are provided with instructions about the plan and that the contractors and sub-contractors prepare safe work method statements and risk assessments, and obtain confined space work permits prior to work being undertaken.

Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Property and Facilities Mr Fabby Ernesta
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Property and Facilities Mr Fabby Ernesta