New enclosed spaces regulations Quebec

by Jan 5, 2024Confined Spaces

In order to adapt to changes affecting the industrial environment and improve the level of confined space safety and confined space entry procedures, laws and regulations in Quebec will be subject to a change affecting the definition and procedures surrounding work in a confined space. The changes mainly affect Article 1 and Section XXVI of the Regulation respecting occupational health and safety (RROHS). Statistics on serious and fatal accidents (between 2016 and 2020) have identified opportunities to improve the regulations by analyzing the main causes of accidents. The regulatory change was approved on January 25, 2023 and comes into force on July 25, 2023. Here are the main new features of the new regulations:

  • The first change affects the very definition of an enclosed area or a confined space (section 1 of the RROHS). The new definition is more precise, focusing on two important criteria: design and risks.

“Enclosed area or confined space”: any space that is totally or partially enclosed, such as a reservoir, silo, vat, hopper, chamber, vault, pit or ditch, including manure pit and temporary storage pit, sewer, pipe, chimney, access shaft, truck ir freight car tank, or wind turbine blade, and that presents one or more of the following hazards due to confinement:

1° a risk of asphyxiation, intoxication, loss of consciousness or judgment, fire or explosion associated with the atmosphere or internal temperature;

2° a risk of burial;

3° a risk of drowning or entanglement due to the level or flow of a liquid.

  • An addition is made to define the scope of the regulation (section 296.1 of the RROHS) to include any confined space and any work performed in a confined space.
  • A new section has been added to the RROHS concerning the construction of enclosed or confined spaces (new section 297.1). The addition of a new confined space, or the renovation of an existing one, must now incorporate equipment and installations that enable work to be carried out from the outside, or, where applicable, incorporate equipment and installations that enable work to be carried out from the outside. The aim is to provide effective means of controlling identified risks, facilitating access and preventing falls.
  • The addition of “aged 18 years or over and” (in article 298 of the regulation) as an essential condition of qualification for a skilled worker in addition to training, knowledge and experience.
  • The step of gathering information and preventive measures prior to performing work before starting work in a confined space (article 300 of the RROHS) is highlighted in the change by including more risks associated with work in a confined space relating to the atmosphere, free-flowing materials and other risks that can compromise the evacuation procedure and preventive measures.
  • Another major change in the regulations concerns the oxygen concentration level, which must be between 20.5% and 23% (instead of 19.5% and 23% previously), and the concentration level of flammable gases or vapors, which must be less than or equal to 5% of the lower explosion limit (instead of 10% before the change).
  • Article 308 (which replaces the former article 308) provides further details concerning the supervisor of work in a confined space, specifying that a supervisor designated by the employer must have the necessary skills and abilities for the work and any evacuation, and must remain in contact with the worker bi-directionally throughout the intervention. Two other articles, 308.1 and 308.2, are added to describe the procedure to be followed in the event of an unforeseen situation or the resumption of interrupted work.
  • Article 309 of the RROHS concerning the rescue plan has been enriched by adding conditions and prerequisites in relation to the procedure (designated person and communication protocol), the equipment used (which must be accessible, suitable and in good condition) and in relation to the training of the persons concerned and the exercise of the rescue plan.
  • The conditions for entering a confined space used to store free-flow materials (sections 311 and 312) have been changed to separate the conditions for entering a confined space containing free-flowing solid materials (new section 311) from liquid materials (new section 312). The aim is to clarify the risks associated with each of these two situations, so as to eliminate them more effectively.

 

References:

https://www.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/gazette/pdf_encrypte/lois_reglements/2022F/76222.pdf

https://www.legisquebec.gouv.qc.ca/fr/document/rc/s-2.1,%20r.%2013

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