What is the definition of confined space under the Model WHS
The definition of a 'confined space' under the Model WHS
Regulations makes reference to a number of characteristics,
including restricted means of entry and exit. This definition
differs to varying degrees from those found in existing regimes in
the States and Territories. The current definition of 'confined
space' in Victoria is a notable example, with the Model WHS
Regulations widening the scope of the term substantially. The
definition in NSW will be modified to include the restricted means
of entry and exit.
What obligations are imposed on PCBUs under the Model WHS
Regulations with respect to confined spaces?
The Model WHS Regulations provide for the control of physical
risks inherent in confined space work (such as hazardous atmosphere
and fire risks). A number of administrative control measures are
also included in the Model WHS Regulations. For example, when work
in a confined space is unavoidable, PCBUs must comply with a
confined space entry permit system. Grant of permits will be based
upon demonstrated implementation of risk assessment and hazard
control. PCBUs will also be required to keep records pertaining to
safety training, risk assessments and permits issued, for
prescribed periods of time.
Further duties are imposed on designers, manufactures and
suppliers of plant that contains, or may contain, a confined space.
The purpose of this duty is to eliminate or reduce risk so far as
reasonably practicable, ideally by removing the need for persons to
enter any confined space within the plant.
A proposed Code of Practice for Confined Spaces,
currently available in draft form, will assist PCBUs in complying
with safety duties. The current draft of the Code of Practice
includes guidance on carrying out risk assessments, atmospheric
monitoring, signage and standby personnel requirements, and review
of control measures.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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