Confined space risk assessment: what you need to know

Confined space risk assessment: what you need to know


Many work incidents or accidents happen in confined spaces each year. In many instances, victims are not aware of the risks and that the control measures were inadequate.

Despite what the name implies, a confined space is not necessarily small and can be found in most workplaces.

A confined space is essentially a place not intended for human occupancy, where it is difficult to enter or exit, and involves risks such as:

  • Elevators
  • Vats
  • Hoppers
  • Service Galleries
  • Tanks
  • Sewers
  • Pipelines
  • Access shafts
  • Tankers and Tank Cars
  • Airplane Wings
  • Boilers
  • Manholes
  • Manure Pits
  • Storage Tanks


This type of space often involves greater risks than any other workspace. An analysis allowing the assessment of the risks related to the confined spaces of your company is essential to ensure the health and safety of your employees.

This risk assessment is used to identify the hazards associated with the confined space and high-risk tasks performed there and aims to implement the applicable safety means and techniques.

In addition to the identification work, this step is necessary to provide a safe rescue plan in case of emergency. The assessment also allows for raising the awareness of the workers on the risks associated with their work environment.

SPI Health and Safety has all the specialized equipment for the inspection and certification of specialized confined space entry and rescue equipment, wall, and floor anchor points, and can perform these inspections directly at your workplace at any time with our mobile service trucks (SAM).


Hazard identification and risk assessment are mandatory depending on the different regulations and the current CSA Z1006 standard. It is strongly recommended to carry out the analysis a few weeks, or even a few months in advance.

This approach helps ensure that the analysis is performed by qualified personnel, that all risks are rigorously evaluated, and that all the equipment required to implement a comprehensive risk assessment program is available in a timely manner.

As stated by Sean Donovan from MSA, the use of the appropriate equipment is a key factor in the protection of employees working in confined spaces and must be considered when developing the program.

Planning the confined space risk assessment sufficiently ahead of time will also allow you to be better organized and prepared before entering confined spaces.

Also, it will raise awareness and engage workers and stakeholders about the protocols to apply. Before each entry, the risk assessment of the visited confined space must be revised by one or several qualified people.

A punctual analysis (prior to the entry) is necessary every time, and unfortunately, this step is too often forgotten.

It is important not only to consider the confined space risks that we already control but to also consider the associated risks to each task carried out inside the confined space (welding, cutting, …)


The occupational health and safety regulations require that the risk assessment is carried out by a qualified person.

Appropriate training is key to ensure the safety of the work in confined spaces; also, the designated person to perform the risk assessment must have received comprehensive training on that topic.

There are many advantages to choosing SPI to provide training or carrying out the risk assessment of the confined space.

By opting for this solution, you ensure that the work is done by experts with known skills and proven experience.

This resource will be more objective and credible, thus promoting the adoption of safety procedures among the workers.

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There are several factors to be taken into consideration when identifying confined space hazards.

The margin of error is slight for the determination or assessment of potential risks as the applicable control measures associated with the risks can have fatal consequences.

Each confined space brings a range of unsafe situations. In some spaces, the work conditions are constantly dangerous. In other cases, existing conditions can be life-threatening in unusual circumstances.

Certain tools may facilitate the data collection that will effectively identify hazards. This type of document simplifies the risk management and assessment of confined spaces.

Management tools, such as a detailed data sheet, cover all necessary fields to identify major hazards found in confined spaces:

  • Confined space identification
  • Management of the possible construction work inside
  • Opening characteristics
  • Evaluation of current and potential risks
  • Procedures to implement according to the risks
  • Required safety equipment
  • Rescue plan and emergency situations

This sheet is a reference tool allowing the collection and organization of the necessary information to complete a risk analysis of your confined spaces.

The experts at SPI Health and Safety are here to support you in achieving your OHS goals!

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