What Does a Confined Space Sentry Do ?

confined space stand byWhat Does a Confined Space Sentry Do ?

This is a very specific role that can have a profound effect on the health and safety of personnel within and around a confined space (What is a Confined Space?).


Alternative Names for “Confined Space Sentry”

It is prudent to define this role to ensure there is no role ambiguity. The more common alternative names to Confined Space Sentry are:

  • Confined Space Entry person
  • Confined Space Standby person
  • Confined Space Observer
  • Confined Space Controller
  • Confined Space Watcher
  • Confined Space Attendant

For the purpose of this article, I will use the term “Confined Space Sentry” to describe this role.


What is a Confined Space Sentry ?

The Confined Space Sentry is a pivotal role who controls who goes into and out of the confined space and monitors all those within the confined space (sometimes crudely referred to as the “hole-watcher”). This person must be on duty at all times and must not engage in alternate duties at any time. This person must also not enter the confined space as it is the role of this person to be the communication conduit and safety observer for everyone inside the Confined Space. That is, if those inside the confined space get into difficulty, it the Confined Space Sentry who will enact the Confined Space Emergency Response and Rescue Plan. This person should not take part in the rescue within the confined space itself. The Confined Space Sentry must have the same Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as those whom are within the confined space to enable that person to peer into the confined space (with actually entering it).

If the Confined Space Sentry needs to be relieved (i.e. shift change, lunch or personal relief break), this person needs to be replaced by personnel with the appropriate qualifications, a signatory of any daily or shift safe work documentation and must not take on any other role whilst relieving the previous Confined Space Sentry.


Summary of Requirements and Duties

Although not exhaustive, the following should provide some insight into the requirements and duties of the Confined Space Sentry role:

  • To maintain an accurate headcount of all people within the confined space
  • To monitor all activities inside and outside of the confined space to determine whether it is safe for the workers to remain inside of the confined space
  • To be competent in gas detection procedures and protocols (understand and operated the equipment) to ensure the safety of workers in the confined space
  • To enforce the confined space permit and also to comply with its control measures (including implementing the emergency rescue plan)
  • To maintain effective and unbroken contact with ALL personnel within the space by utilising radio, mutually agreed, documented and communicated hand signals, horns, lights and the like
  • To prevent the entry of any unauthorised personnel and equipment into the confined space
  • To order the evacuation of the confined space as necessary
  • To initiate the agreed emergency rescue plan and notify emergency services (as required by the plan)
  • To supervise the emergency rescue (without entering the confined space).


Emergency Rescue from a Confined Space

On this last point, the Confined Space Sentry may be permitted to attempt to remove personnel from the confined space in the event of emergency using tripods, hoists and life-lines if so determined on such permits, emergency rescue plans, risk assessment or other formal documentation as required. However, the Confined Space Sentry must never enter the confined space. Properly trained, equipped and designated emergency rescue personnel are the only personnel permitted to enter the confined space to undertake a rescue.


HazWatch Safety

Hazwatch Safety are specialists in the supply of Confined Space Sentry personnel and are available for Confined Space and skilled and semi-skilled labour hire for your shutdowns or for daily hire. We can provide the labour for the safe management of your confined spaces. Contact Jodee on 0400 668 716 or email Hazwatch Safety via the Contact Us page for more information.

For more information on Confined Space Sentries or on Confined Spaces in general, please contact your local authority and your local area specialists in Confined Space Safety Management.


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