Updated standard offers greater protection to workers in confined spaces

Friday, 02 October, 2009

Standards Australia has published a new edition of AS/NZS 2865 Confined Spaces with new requirements to improve the protection and safety of workers in or near a confined space.

The standard is one of the more broadly used standards in Australian industry. It is intended to ensure that people working in or near a confined space such as a storage tank, silo, sewer, sullage pit or similar structure are operating within a safe environment.

Certain requirements stipulated in the standard are mandatory.

The standard prescribes procedures and techniques to identify risks and sets out control measures for ensuring the safety of those who must enter or carry out tasks associated with a confined space. Hazards could include oxygen supply, airborne contaminants that may cause loss of consciousness, asphyxiation or injury from explosion or engulfment from liquid resulting in suffocation or drowning.

To clear up confusion on how to assess whether or not a particular area qualifies as a confined space, AS 2865-2009 clarifies the process for identifying possible risks and assessing the space. New guidance diagrams are provided to help identify a confined space and recommendations for training and competency of users have been introduced.

Debate regarding the wording and intent of a range of clauses took place during the revision process, largely as a result of the diversity of users and the importance to occupational health and safety.

The revision was undertaken by joint Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand Committee SF-037 Work in Confined Spaces, comprising representatives from:

  • Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Australian Industry Group
  • Australian Institute of Industrial Hygienists
  • Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority
  • Australian Steel Institute
  • Department of Labour (New Zealand)
  • Energy Networks Association
  • Engineers Australia
  • NSW Department of Primary industries, Mineral Resources NSW Mines Rescue
  • Local Government Association of Queensland
  • Safe Work Australia
  • Safety Institute of Australia
  • Water Services Association of Australia

AS 2865-2009 is available for purchase from Standards Australia’s publisher and distributor, SAI Global at www.saiglobal.com.

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