Confined Space Documentation

confined space regulations

What Confined Space Documentation Do You Need?

Confined Space Entry Permit

Confined Space management is generally via a paper Confined Space Entry Permit. These Confined Space Entry Permits must be completed by a competent person. They provide a formal check, in writing, to ensure all elements of a safe system of work are in place before people enter the confined space, and confirmation that those people have left the space when work has been completed.

Because of the significant risks associated with confined spaces, workers must not enter a confined space without a confined space entry permit, even to conduct the initial hazard identification or risk assessment.

confined space signsconfined space no entry signage

Confined Space Procedures

It is imperative that procedures exist in written form and that you must follow the correct procedures. Things to be aware of include:

  • Personnel MUST sign in and out of confined space EVERY TIME they enter or exit.
  • No person can enter a confined space until the confined space permit is open by an authorised person.
  • Monitors MUST be cleared and “peaked” prior to entry.
  • A confined space must be gas tested and readings placed on permit.
  • All personnel involved in the task, including those not entering the confined space must still sign onto the Confined Space Permit (in the relevant section) to show they have read and understood the attached Risk Assessment.
  • Sentry must contact the permit officer in charge to register the confined space permit. No one can enter until the permit officer has been contacted and permit has been registered. The sentry must contact permit officer when job has been completed. The permit officer should be contactable at all times.
  • A rescue place must be with a JSEA (Job Safety and Environment Analysis), JHA (Job Hazard Analysis), SWI (Safe Work Instruction) or other form of documented Risk Assessment. If there is paperwork missing the task cannot go ahead until all relevant paperwork is in place. You must contact your supervisor to obtain correct paperwork.
  • If monitor goes into alarm sentry must evacuate personnel immediately from confined space.
  • Under no circumstances is a Confined Space Sentry allowed to enter the confined space, even in the case of emergency, your job is to raise the alarm and initiate emergency rescue plan.


confined space gas monitoringGas Monitoring

This is a very important Confined Space Critical Control and should be treated seriously with ALL measurements documented and saved . Some key points include:

  • A person’s senses should never be used to determine if the air in a confined space is safe. Many toxic or flammable gases and unsafe oxygen levels cannot be detected using one’s senses.
  • Initial testing should be done from outside the confined space by inserting a sample probe and/or portable gas detection device at appropriately selected access holes, nozzles and openings. Because contaminants can settle at different levels, each part of the confined space should be tested –side to side and top to bottom.
  • Some gases (such as hydrogen sulphide) are heavier than air and in unventilated areas will settle to the bottom of the space, while other gases (such as methane) are lighter than air and will collect at the top of the space. Testing should be carried out on a sufficient number of points to accurately reflect areas of the space that are likely to be accessed.
  • Lighter gases may be vented into the breathing zone of the person conducting the tests.
  • Some gases may be dissolved in liquids and released when the liquid is disturbed or a crust over the liquid is broken and it may therefore be necessary to agitate liquids before monitoring.
  • Re-testing and continuous monitoring of the air may be necessary if the risk assessment indicates that conditions may change due to the work being done or the disturbance of hazardous material in the confined space.


Emergency procedures

Due to the risks of exposure to serious and immediate danger if something was to go wrong in a confined space, it is essential to have effective arrangements for raising the alarm and carrying out rescue operations in an emergency well documented and understood. These procedures will vary from company to company and possibly from site to site.

It is important to be very familiar with these procedures in the event of an emergency situation.

For any further information or questions, please refer to the WHS Regulations or contact Hazwatch Safety Services via our Contact Us page or call us on 0400 668 716 for Confined Space Sentry Services.



Confined Spaces: Your Obligations

confined space obligations

Complying with the WHS Act

All of us need to comply with the current WHS (Work Health Safety) Act and Regulations regarding confined spaces. Regulation 5 (extract) defines what a confined space is. Please refer to our article on “What is a Confined Space”.

What are your obligations under the act ? Well that depends on the role you have. Let’s start with the Duty Holder.

Duty Holder

“Duty Holder” refers to any person who owes a work health and safety duty under the WHS Act including a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier, installer of products or plant used at work (upstream duty holders), an officer and workers.
As a WORKER, you are defined as a DUTY HOLDER.

What are the Workers Duties in relation to a Confined Space?

Workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their work does not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with any reasonable instructions given relating to confined space entry permits, risk control measures and emergency procedures, and should carry out work in a confined space in accordance with any relevant information and training provided to them.

The key takeaway here is that it is the Confined Space Sentry’s DUTY to ensure compliance.

confined space permit requirementsManaging Risk in a Confined Space

What is required in the Managing Risks associated with Confined Space? From Regulation 34 – 38 (extract):
In order to manage risk under the WHS Regulations, a duty holder must:

  • Identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to the risk
  • Eliminate the risk so far as is reasonably practicable
  • If it is not reasonably practicably to eliminate the risk: minimise the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by implementing control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of control
  • Maintain the implemented control measure so that it remains effective
  • Review and if necessary, revise risk control measures so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.

The key takeaway here is that it is the Confined Space Sentry’s DUTY the ensure all risks have been identified and the controls are in place.

Consultation with the Workers

Again, an extract from the WHS Act (Section 37):
The WHS Act requires that you consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with workers who carry out work for you who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a work health and safety matter.
In this regard, it is required that the Duty Holder:

  • Consult with the work team
  • Ensure all hazards have been identified
  • Ensure all Controls are in place
  • Ensure the work team fully understands the hazards and controls

Here is a list of examples for all members in the working party to look out for:

  • Restricted entry or exit
  • Harmful airborne contaminants
  • Unsafe oxygen levels
  • Fire and explosion
  • Engulfment

Other less obvious things to look out for are:

  • Uncontrolled introduction of substances
  • Biological hazards
  • Mechanical hazards
  • Electrical hazards
  • Skin contact with hazardous substances
  • Noise
  • Manual tasks
  • Radiation
  • Environmental hazards
  • Physiological and psychological demands


Confined Space Critical Controls

Risk Management, whether it be in a workplace or just generally, is about identifying the possible hazards, assessing these hazards then putting in place controls to avoid or lessen the effect of the hazard if it were to occur. In the workplace and especially when managing Confined Spaces, Critical Controls must be put in place.
Examples of Critical Controls are:

  • Clear communication with people working inside a confined space
  • Communication with permit controller when opening and closing permit
  • Trained and competent sentry and workers
  • Prestart/Bump Testing of monitors
  • Monitoring –Initial, periodic or continuous
  • Correct monitor for the task (range of gases)
  • Confined Space Harness-check no damage
  • Confined Space Document -Rescue plan and signage in place
  • Permits -Confined space permit, hot work permit
  • Isolations -correct isolation box
  • Barricading in place to prevent unauthorised entry
  • Retractable lanyard/appropriate lanyard
  • Clear communication with other work groups above below or around
  • Work area set up, intrinsically safe lighting, air or battery operating tools
  • Calibration of equipment is prior to start of job and is current
  • Secondary ventilation-fans, hatches open, force air
  • Housekeeping of area, inspection and clean-up of hazards


For any further information or questions, please refer to the WHS Regulations or contact Hazwatch Safety Services via our Contact Us page or call us on 0400 668 716 for help.