Confined spaces are not always the obvious tank that needs to be welded from the inside. A confined space might be that trench you have to climb down into, or the crawl space underneath the house, or if you’re lucky, really really lucky, the engine room on your yacht.
In Alberta, these type of work spaces fall into one of two categories: either a restricted space or a confined space, and the rules governing them differs. So, it’s important to know which one you are about to enter, so you leave the same as you came in.
A restricted space is a work area that people don’t generally like to hangout in, and is hard to enter and exit but that’s the only hazard you’ll encounter.
A confined space is a restricted space that has hazards or potential hazards above just access and egress.…like fumes or lack of oxygen from welding or H2S seeping up out of the ground as you dig. You can find all the specifics around the hazards you need to consider in the OH&S Code in Alberta or your jurisdiction’s applicable OH&S legislation.
Some sites or companies may choose to follow procedures for a confined space, even if by definition, it is a restricted space. This is operating on the side of caution and taking any guesswork out of your safety. But don’t rely on your employer to identify confined spaces for you, especially since you won’t just run into them (no pun intended and don’t run) while at work. Use the same precautions at home (or on your yacht) as your employer puts in place at work. Stay safe and always make sure you have a permit (at work) and a rescue plan.