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Never assume a confined space is safe. Workers in confined spaces can face serious health and safety hazards. These hazards include the atmosphere (including toxic gases), restricted entry and exit, and the type of work performed inside the confined space. Oxygen deficiency and lack of air quality testing are the main causes of deaths in confined spaces and more than half of these deaths are typically rescuers. Employers must identify confined spaces in the workplace and take necessary actions to control the hazards.
Confined spaces can be found in any workplace, and even at home. Here are some examples: utility vaults, access shafts, truck or rail tank cars, boilers, augured caissons, sumps, pits, degreasers, tanks, vats, bins, kilns, manholes, wells, sumps, pits, pipelines, cellars, silos, storage bins, and crawl spaces. Ditches and trenches may also be a confined space when access or egress is limited.
The hazards of a confined space can be divided into two groups: physical hazards and atmospheric hazards.
The lack of oxygen in the air is one of the most frequent causes of confined space accidents. What increases the seriousness of an incident in a hazardous confined space is the fact that the rescue is difficult. A well-designed and effective rescue plan is essential. In numerous instances, those individuals that went into the confined space to rescue their co-workers became victims themselves.
An employer, in consultation with the Occupational Health Committee (OHC), must identify all existing confined spaces in the workplace, and conduct an assessment to identify the hazards within those spaces.
Before asking workers to work in a confined space, an employer should always look for a reasonable alternative way to do the job without requiring the worker to enter the confined space (for example, using a robot).
When no alternative means of performing the work are identified, the employer must ensure that the workers wearing adequate PPE can safely enter and exit the confined space. The access paths to and from the confined space may need to be identified and practicable alterations to the physical characteristics of the confined space are made to permit the safe entry and exit of a worker.
As an employer you must:
Where a safe atmosphere is not possible, as an employer you must make sure that:
As an employee, you must:
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996
S.S., c. O-1.1, Reg 1
Part I Preliminary Matters
Section 2 Interpretation
2. (1) In these regulations and in all other regulations made pursuant to the Act:
(a) "Act" means The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 ;
(b) "air-purifying respirator" means a respirator that removes airborne contaminants from the air inhaled by a worker;
(c) "approved" means:
(i) approved by an agency acceptable to the director for use under the conditions prescribed by the agency; or
(ii) approved conditionally or otherwise by a certificate of the director;
(d) "atmosphere-supplying respirator" means a respirator that delivers clean breathing air to a worker from a compressor or a cylinder, an SCBA, whether closed or open circuit, or a combination of SCBA and supplied air;
(e) "borehole" means a mechanically drilled hole in the ground;
(f) "building shaft" means a continuous vertical space substantially enclosed on all sides that extends for two or more floors, and includes an elevator shaft, a ventilation shaft, a stairwell and a service shaft;
(g) "class A qualification" means a certificate or certificates that:
(i) are issued by an agency, as defined in section 50, with respect to the successful completion of a first aid training course and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation training course that meet the minimum requirements for course duration and content set out in Table 1 of the Appendix; and
(ii) qualify the holder to perform the services set out in Table 2 of the Appendix;
(h) "class B qualification" means a certificate or certificates that:
(i) are issued by an agency, as defined in section 50, with respect to the successful completion of a first aid training course and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation training course that meet the minimum requirements for course duration and content set out in Table 3 of the Appendix; and
(ii) qualify the holder to perform the services set out in Table 4 of the Appendix;
(i) "Class C fire" means a fire involving energized electrical equipment;
(j) "co-chairpersons" means, with respect to a committee, the employer or contractor co-chairperson appointed pursuant to clause 43(1)(b) and the worker co-chairperson elected pursuant to clause 43(1)(a);
(k) "committee" means an occupational health committee;
(l) "competent" means possessing knowledge, experience and training to perform a specific duty;
(m) "competent worker", with respect to a particular task or duty, includes a worker who is being trained to perform that task or carry out that duty and who is under close and competent supervision during that training;
(n) "connecting linkage" means a lanyard, safety hook, cable or connector inserted between a personal fall arrest system and the D-ring on a worker's full-body harness;
(o) "construction" means the erection, alteration, renovation, repair, dismantling, demolition, structural maintenance and painting of a structure, and includes:
(i) land clearing, earth moving, grading, excavating, trenching, digging, boring, drilling, blasting and concreting; and
(ii) the installation of any plant;
(p) "controlled product" means a controlled product within the meaning of the Hazardous Products Act (Canada);
(q) "dBA" means the sound pressure level in decibels measured on the A scale of a sound level meter;
(r) "dBA Lex" means the level of a worker's total exposure to noise, in dBA, averaged over an entire workday and adjusted to an equivalent eight-hour exposure;
(s) "designated signaller" means a worker designated pursuant to clause 132(1)(a) to give signals;
(t) "emergency medical technician" means a person who is licensed as an emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician-advanced or emergency medical technician-paramedic pursuant to The Ambulance Act;
(u) "escape respirator" means an atmosphere-supplying respirator or an air-purifying respirator that is designed to be used by a worker for escape purposes only;
(v) "excavated shaft" means a dug-out passage into the ground, the longest dimension of which exceeds 1.5 metres and of which the acute angle between the axis of the longest dimension and the vertical is less than 45;
(w) "excavation" means any dug-out area of ground other than a trench, tunnel or excavated shaft;
(x) "fall-arresting device" Repealed. [Sask. Reg. 67/2007, s. 3]
(y) "first aid" means immediate assistance given in case of injury until medical aid has been obtained;
(z) "first aid attendant" means the holder of a valid:
(i) class A qualification;
(ii) class B qualification;
(iii) emergency medical technician's licence; or
(iv) licence, certificate or other qualification that, in the opinion of the director, is equivalent to or superior to a qualification set out in subclauses (i) to (iii);
(aa) "first aid register" means the register required by section 57;
(bb) "first aid station" means a work-related area containing the supplies and equipment required by subsection 56(1);
(bb.1) "forklift" means a self-propelled machine that has a power-operated upright, angled or telescoping lifting device that can raise and lower a load for the purpose of transporting or stacking;
(cc) "full-body harness" means a safety device that is capable of suspending a worker without causing the worker to bend at the waist, and consists of straps that pass over the worker's shoulders and around the worker's legs, an upper dorsal suspension assembly and all integral hardware;
(dd) "hand tool" means hand-held equipment that is powered by the energy of a worker;
(ee) "harmful" means known to cause harm or injury;
(ff) "hazardous" means likely to cause harm or injury in certain circumstances;
(gg) "HEPA filter" means a high-efficiency particulate aerosol filter that is at least 99.97% efficient in collecting a 0.3 micrometre aerosol;
(hh) "hoist" means a machine that consists of a raising and lowering mechanism;
(ii) "immediately dangerous to life or health" means a condition in which a hazardous atmosphere exists to such an extent that a worker who is not using an approved respiratory protective device will suffer escape-impairing or irreversible health effects if the worker does not leave the hazardous atmosphere within 30 minutes;
(jj) "instruct" means to give information and direction to a worker with respect to particular subject-matter;
(kk) "lifeline" means a length of rope or strap that is attached to a safe point of anchorage at one end or, in the case of a horizontal lifeline, at both ends to provide support and a guide for a personal fall arrest system or personnel lowering device;
(ll) "locked out" means to have isolated the energy source or sources from equipment, to have dissipated any residual energy in a system and to have secured the isolation by a device that is operated by a key or other process;
(mm) "machine" means any combination of mechanical parts that transmits from one part to another or otherwise modifies force, motion or energy;
(nn) "maintained" means kept in a condition of efficient and safe functioning by a system of regular examination, testing and servicing or repair;
(oo) "The Mines Regulations" means The Mines Regulations, 2003 ;
(pp) "officer" means an occupational health officer;
(qq) "operator" means a person who operates any equipment;
(qq.1) "percutaneous" means a route of entry that is through the skin or mucous membrane, and includes subcutaneous, intramuscular and intravascular routes of entry.
(qq.2) "personal fall arrest system" means personal protective equipment that provides a means of safely arresting the fall of a worker and that, subsequent to the arrest of the fall, does not by itself permit the further release or lowering of the worker;
(rr) "personal protective equipment" means any clothing, device or other article that is intended to be worn or used by a worker to prevent injury or to facilitate rescue;
(ss) "personnel lowering device" means a device that provides a means of lowering a worker from a height at a controlled rate of descent;
(tt) "power tool" means a hand-held machine that is powered by energy other than the energy of a worker;
(uu) "powered mobile equipment" means a self-propelled machine or a combination of machines, including a prime mover, that is designed to manipulate or move materials or to provide a work platform for workers;
(vv) "professional engineer" means an engineer who is registered pursuant to The Engineering Profession Act;
(ww) "public highway" means a public highway as defined in The Highways and Transportation Act, 1997 ;
(xx) "qualified" means possessing a recognized degree, a recognized certificate or a recognized professional standing and demonstrating, by knowledge, training and experience, the ability to deal with problems related to the subject-matter, the work or the project;
(yy) "representative" means an occupational health and safety representative;
(zz) "respiratory protective device" means a device that is designed to protect a wearer from inhaling a hazardous atmosphere, and includes an atmosphere-supplying respirator, an air-purifying respirator and an escape respirator;
(aaa) "safeguard" means a guard, shield, wire mesh, guardrail, gate, barrier, safety net, handrail or other similar equipment that is designed to protect the safety of workers, but does not include personal protective equipment;
(bbb) "safety belt" Repealed. [Sask. Reg. 67/2007, s. 3]
(ccc) "SCBA" means self-contained breathing apparatus;
(ddd) "supervisor" means a person who is authorized by an employer to oversee or direct the work of workers;
(eee) "train" means to give information and explanation to a worker with respect to a particular subject-matter and require a practical demonstration that the worker has acquired knowledge or skill related to the subject-matter;
(fff) "travelway" means any place where workers or vehicles regularly travel or pass, and includes a ramp, runway, catwalk, bridge, conveyor, gantry or passage;
(ggg) "trench" means an elongated dug-out area of land whose depth exceeds its width at the bottom;
(hhh) "tunnel" means an underground passage that has an incline of not more than 45 from the horizontal;
(iii) "vehicle" means a machine in, on or by which a person or thing may be transported, and includes powered mobile equipment;
(jjj) "work" and "at work" means:
(i) the time during which a worker is in the course of the worker's employment; or
(ii) the time that a self-employed person devotes to work as a self-employed person;
(kkk) "work-related area" means all places that are ancillary to a place of employment, and includes lunchrooms, restrooms, first aid rooms, lecture rooms, parking lots under the control of the employer or contractor, offices and work camp living accommodations, but does not include a permanent living accommodation.
(2) For the purposes of the Act and in these regulations and all other regulations made pursuant to the Act, "injury" includes any disease and any impairment of the physical or mental condition of a person.
(3) Any word or expression used but not defined in these regulations or the Act has the meaning commonly given to it at places of employment in the industry concerned.
(4) Unless otherwise expressly stated:
(a) lumber sizes specified in these regulations are lumber sizes after dressing; and
(b) "lumber" means lumber that is free of visible defects.
[Sask. Reg. 6/97, s. 3; 35/2003, s. 3; 112/2005, s. 3; 67/2007, s. 3]
3. Repealed. [Sask. Reg. 35/2003, s. 4]
Part XVIII Confined Space Entry
Section 266 Interpretation
266. In this Part:
(a) "confined space" means an enclosed or partially enclosed space that:
(i) is not primarily designed or intended for human occupancy, except for the purpose of performing work; and
(ii) has restricted means of entrance and exit;
(b) "hazardous confined space" means a confined space that is or may become hazardous to a worker entering the confined space due to:
(i) the design, construction or atmosphere of the confined space;
(ii) the materials or substances in the confined space;
(iii) the work activities or processes used in the confined space; or
(iv) any other conditions relating to the confined space;
(c) "isolate" means to physically interrupt or disconnect pipes, lines and sources of energy from a confined space.
Section 267 Identification of confined spaces, hazards, etc.
267. Where a worker may be required or permitted to work in a confined space, an employer, in consultation with the committee, shall identify:
(a) types of confined spaces at the place of employment that a worker may be required or permitted to enter;
(b) types of hazards that are or may be present at each confined space;
(c) alternative means to perform the work to be performed in a confined space that will not require the worker to enter the confined space; and
(d) alterations to the physical characteristics of the confined spaces that may be necessary to ensure safe entrance to and exit from all accessible parts of each confined space.
Section 268 Avoidance of entry into hazardous confined space
268. (1) Where reasonably practicable, an employer shall use an alternative means to perform work that will not require a worker to enter a hazardous confined space.
(2) An employer shall take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent any unauthorized entry into the confined space.
Section 269 Requirements before confined space is entered
269. (1) Where a worker will be required or permitted to work in a confined space, an employer, contractor or owner shall, before requiring or permitting the worker to enter the confined space:
(a) ensure that there is a safe entrance to and exit from all accessible parts of the confined space; and
(b) make all practicable alterations to the physical characteristics of the confined space necessary to ensure a safe entrance to and exit from all accessible parts of the confined space.
(2) In making alterations pursuant to clause (1)(b), an employer shall ensure that the structural integrity of the confined space is maintained.
Section 270 Requirements before hazardous confined space is entered
270. (1) Before a worker is required or permitted to enter a confined space, an employer shall appoint a competent person:
(a) to assess the hazards;
(b) where a hazardous atmosphere has been identified, to test the atmosphere of the confined space for:
(i) oxygen enrichment or deficiency;
(ii) the presence of flammable or explosive substances; and
(iii) the presence and hazardous concentration of airborne chemical substances; and
(c) to determine whether:
(i) work activities or processes will result in the release of toxic, flammable or explosive concentrations of any substances during the worker's occupation of the confined space;
(ii) measures have been taken to ensure that a worker will not drown or become entrapped in any liquid or free-flowing solid present in the confined space;
(iii) the entry of any liquid, free-flowing solid or hazardous substance into the confined space in a quantity that could endanger the health or safety of the worker has been prevented;
(iv) all energy sources that present a hazard to a worker entering into, exiting from or occupying the confined space have been locked out, with the energy sources being put in a zero energy state;
(v) any hazards from biological substances are present in the confined space; and
(vi) the opening for entry into and exit from the confined space is sufficient to allow safe passage of a worker who is using personal protective equipment required by these regulations.
(2) When testing the atmosphere of a confined space pursuant to clause (1)(b), a competent person shall use appropriate and properly calibrated instruments that have been tested to ensure that the instruments are capable of operating safely and effectively.
(3) A competent person who carries out the activities described in clauses (1)(a) to (c) shall prepare a report in writing that sets out:
(a) the results of the assessment, tests and determinations;
(b) recommended special precautions and procedures to reduce the risk to a worker that are to be followed by a worker entering into, exiting from or occupying the confined space; and
(c) recommended personal protective equipment to be used by a worker entering the confined space.
Section 271 Notice where no hazard found
271. Where a confined space is not identified as a hazardous confined space, an employer shall:
(a) notify a worker who is required to enter the confined space verifying that the confined space is not hazardous;
(b) arrange for a method of communication with a worker on entry to and exit from the confined space and at appropriate intervals while a worker is in the confined space;
(c) prepare a procedure for the removal of a worker who has become injured or incapacitated while in the confined space; and
(d) ensure that the ventilation in the confined space is adequate to maintain safe atmospheric conditions.
Section 272 Entry plan
272. (1) Where a worker will be required or permitted to enter a hazardous confined space, an employer, in consultation with the committee, shall develop a hazardous confined space entry plan to ensure the health and safety of workers who enter or work in the hazardous confined space.
(2) A hazardous confined space entry plan must be in writing and must include:
(a) the tests or measurements necessary to monitor any oxygen deficiency or enrichment or the presence and hazardous concentration of flammable or explosive substances;
(b) the identification of any other hazards that may be present in the hazardous confined space and may put the health or safety of workers at risk;
(c) the means, if any, of isolating the hazardous confined space;
(d) the means, if any, of ventilating the hazardous confined space;
(e) the procedures to enter, work in and exit from the hazardous confined space safely;
(f) the availability, location and proper use of personal protective equipment;
(g) the rescue procedures to be followed, including the number and duties of personnel and the availability, location and proper use of equipment;
(h) the means to maintain effective communication with a worker who has entered the hazardous confined space; and
(i) the availability, location and proper use of any other equipment that a worker may need to work safely in the hazardous confined space.
(3) An employer shall ensure that the following workers are trained in and implement a hazardous confined space entry plan:
(a) a worker who is required or permitted to enter the hazardous confined space;
(b) a worker who attends a worker in the hazardous confined space pursuant to subsection 274(4) or (5);
(c) a worker who may be required or permitted to implement the rescue procedures mentioned in clause (2)(g).
(4) An employer shall make a copy of a hazardous confined space entry plan readily available at the entrance to the hazardous confined space.
Section 273 Purging and ventilating of unsafe atmosphere
273. (1) In addition to the requirements of section 369, where a concentration of a toxic, flammable or explosive substance is present or an oxygen enrichment or deficiency exists in a hazardous confined space, an employer shall ensure that the hazardous confined space is:
(a) purged and ventilated before a worker is allowed to enter the space, so that:
(i) any hazard associated with a toxic, flammable or explosive substance is reduced to the extent that is possible or eliminated; and
(ii) an oxygen content of not less than 19.5% and not more than 23% is ensured; and
(b) continuously ventilated at all times during which the worker occupies the hazardous confined space, to maintain a safe atmosphere.
(2) Where ventilation is used to reduce or eliminate a hazard pursuant to subsection (1), an employer shall ensure that a competent person tests the atmosphere to determine that the confined space is safe for entry by a worker:
(a) before a worker enters the confined space;
(b) where all workers have vacated the confined space, before any worker re-enters the confined space;
(c) on the request of a worker who is required or permitted to enter the confined space; and
(d) continuously where any condition in the confined space may change and put the worker's health or safety at risk.
Section 274 Precautions where safe atmosphere not possible
274. (1) Where a hazardous confined space cannot be purged and ventilated to provide a safe atmosphere or a safe atmosphere cannot be maintained pursuant to section 273, an employer shall ensure that no work is carried on in the confined space except in accordance with the requirements of this section and section 369.
(2) An employer shall ensure that a competent person continuously monitors the atmosphere in a hazardous confined space.
(3) An employer shall ensure that a worker is provided with and required to use a respiratory protective device that meets the requirements of Part VII if:
(a) the airborne concentration for any substance meets or exceeds the permissible contamination limit mentioned in clause 307(1)(a);
(b) oxygen deficiency or enrichment is detected; or
(c) the airborne concentration of any other substance may be harmful to the worker.
(4) An employer shall ensure that a worker in a hazardous confined space is attended by and in communication with another worker who:
(a) has been adequately trained in the rescue procedures mentioned in clause 272(2)(g);
(b) is stationed and remains at the entrance to the confined space unless replaced by another adequately trained worker; and
(c) is equipped with a suitable alarm to summon assistance.
(5) If entrance to a hazardous confined space is from the top:
(a) an employer shall ensure that:
(i) a worker uses a full-body harness and, where appropriate, is attached to a lifeline;
(ii) if a lifeline is used, the lifeline is attended by another worker who is adequately trained in the rescue procedures mentioned in clause 272(2)(g); and
(iii) where reasonably practicable, a mechanical lifting device is available to assist with a rescue and is located at the entry to the confined space while a worker is in the confined space; or
(b) an employer shall ensure that an alternate method of rescue is developed and implemented where the use of a full-body harness or lifeline would create an additional hazard.
(6) If any flammable or explosive dusts, gases, vapours or liquids are or may be present in a hazardous confined space, an employer shall ensure that all sources of ignition are eliminated or controlled.
(7) An employer shall ensure that:
(a) equipment necessary to rescue workers is readily available at the entrance to the hazardous confined space and used in accordance with the rescue procedures developed pursuant to clause 272(2)(g);
(b) the holder of a class A qualification in first aid is available to provide immediate first aid; and
(c) personnel who are trained in the rescue procedures developed pursuant to clause 272(2)(g) and who are fully informed of the hazards in the confined space are readily available to assist in a rescue procedure.
Section 275 Piping discharging hazardous substances
275. (1) Where a worker may be required or permitted to work in a confined space into which piping may discharge a hazardous substance, an employer shall ensure that the piping:
(a) has a blank installed that is sized for the proper pressure in the piping before the piping enters the confined space;
(b) is equipped with two blocking valves and a bleed-off valve installed between the blocking valves located so that any bleed off does not contaminate the confined space; or
(c) is equipped with an approved safety device.
(2) Where piping is equipped with two blocking valves and a bleed- off valve pursuant to clause (1)(b) or an approved safety device pursuant to clause (1)(c), an employer shall ensure that:
(a) the valves in the flow lines are locked out in the "closed" position and the bleed-off valve is locked out in the "open" position;
(b) the valves are tagged to indicate that the valves must not be activated until the tags have been removed by a worker designated by the employer for that purpose; and
(c) the worker designated pursuant to clause (b):
(i) monitors the valves to ensure that they are not activated while a worker is in the confined space; and
(ii) records on the tag mentioned in clause (b) the date and time of each monitoring and signs the tag each time the worker monitors the valves.
Part XXV Fire and Explosion Hazards
Section 369 Flammable or explosive substance in atmosphere
369. (1) Where a flammable or explosive substance is present in the atmosphere of a worksite at a level that is more than 20% of the lower explosive limit of that substance, an employer or contractor shall not require or permit a worker to enter or work at the worksite.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to:
(a) a fire fighter who has been trained pursuant to section 482; or
(b) a competent worker who meets the requirements of subsection (3) and who is acting in an emergency situation at the place of employment.
(3) An employer shall ensure that:
(a) the competent worker mentioned in clause (2)(b) is trained, equipped and works according to an approved standard;
(b) the training required by clause (a) is provided by a competent person; and
(c) a written record is kept of all training delivered to a worker pursuant to clause (a).
[Sask. Reg. 67/2007, s. 28]