The 5 main steps to take control of your confined spaces

by Mar 12, 2020Hazardous materials


Knowing that the majority of workers are unaware that they are in a confined space, the first step to perform for the management of work in, is to count and identify them.

CSA Z1006-16 specifies that confined spaces must be identified by signs or posters installed at each exterior entry point with the following indications recommended:

  • That it is an confined space
  • That access is prohibited
  • That an entry permit is required



Employers should collect information on where the equipment meets the definition of an enclosed space. This collection of information is done before allowing access to it. The Regulation respecting occupational health and safety (RSST) lists in article 300 all the information to be taken into consideration before the work.

This information will, among other things, identify and analyze the risks involved and find safe working methods to eliminate, reduce and control them.

NB: Article 300 of the RSST specifies that the collection of information and the established prevention measures must be carried out by a qualified person.



To allow access to a confined space, the employer must have a rescue procedure to quickly rescue any worker in distress inside a confined space. To do this, CSA certified equipment specifically designed for this purpose must be used. Here are some examples of equipment often used for confined space rescue:

  • Recovery winch / retractable lifeline
  • Safety harness
  • Tripod
  • Hoist (davit system)
  • Fan + hose

Also one or more Multigas detectors (O2, H2S, CO, fuel / explosive LEL) are required for each entry into the confined space, in order to ensure adequate monitoring of the ambient air quality in the confined space. The confined space entry permit can only be issued if the atmospheric readings comply with the acceptable limits defined by the CSA Z1006 standard:

  • An oxygen content between 19.5% and 23.0%;
  • Flammability less than or equal to 10% of the lower explosive limit (LEL) or the lower flammability limit (LFL) in the case of cold work; and less than or equal to 5% of the LEL or LII in the case of hot work, or as required by the competent authority; and,
  • Concentrations of air contaminants below the exposure limits permitted by the competent authority.



As mentioned above, it is the ignorance of workers that makes them more vulnerable to workplace accidents in confined spaces. For this reason, the organization must ensure that all workers who take part in confined space work receive the training.

Its content must enable them to acquire the knowledge, skills and qualifications necessary to execute their roles in a safe manner. The updating of knowledge should be done once a year and the training completed at an interval of at most 3 years.



Like any other file, to ensure that it continues while improving, it is necessary to carry out internal audits of the management of confined spaces.

Audits measure the effectiveness of the measures implemented. The nature and frequency of these must be established in addition to the form of the reports. Results, conclusions and corrective action plans should be addressed in reports to the company’s management.

The implementation of corrective measures resulting from the audit is the responsibility of management staff.


Regulation respecting occupational health and safety in Quebec, c. S-2.1, r. 13. (RSST)

CSA Z1006-16 – Work management in confined spaces

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