Laws of Working in a Confined Space
Working in silos or any confined space comes with its fair share of laws, rules and regulations. These are put in place to keep both silo cleaners and businesses safe. Sometimes it’s possible to conduct a cleaning or maintenance job from outside the silo, but when this is unavoidable there are a few safety procedures everyone must adhere to. Here’s a round-up of the laws of working in a confined space…
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
This is the overall law for working in a confined space. Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees. Regulations under this law include the Management of Health, Safety at Work 1999 and Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Confined Spaces Regulations Act 1997. The latter states “no person at work shall enter or carry out any work in or (other than as a result of an emergency) leave a confined space otherwise than in accordance with a system of work which, in relation to any relevant specified risks, renders that work safe and without risks to health.”
Employers and self-employed people should, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, conduct a safety assessment and what measures to take to prevent or control each risk. Various risks include removing or ventilating noxious fumes, how much oxygen is in the silo so you can determine whether breathing apparatus is needed and whether or not you can shut off valves to prevent liquids and gases flowing into the silo.
It’s also very important to work out how to handle any potential emergencies. This includes how to identify whether the cleaner has been affected by the fumes, how to shut off any gases or liquids seeping through and how to get the silo cleaner out of the silo as quickly as possible. Of course, you will need to call the emergency services but you’ll need to create an action plan before they arrive, as it could take some time.
Training and awareness
It’s vital to ensure the silo cleaner is aware of the risks of working in a confined space and that they’re fully trained to carry out the work. Ensure they know how to use all equipment including machinery and personal protective equipment.