How To Know If Your Mining Site Has Confined Spaces

If your mining site has confined spaces, there are specific safety precautions you need to take. The definition of a “Confined Space” can vary from province to province or state to state, but generally, it is a space:

    • Large enough that a worker can enter and perform work, but has fully or partially enclosed with limited means for entry or exit
    • That is not designed for continuous occupancy
    • Where atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents or because of work that is done in it

Below is an explanation of each part of the definition.

1. Size, and Means of Entry and Exit

A confined space is a space that can be large enough to be occupied by a person, but enclosed or partially enclosed such that entering and exiting could be limited.

If the space isn’t large enough for a person to occupy, then confined space regulations may not apply but other occupational health and safety rules would still be applicable.

2. Not Designed for Continuous Occupancy

Workspaces such as offices, arenas, maintenance rooms, control rooms, etc., are obvious places that are designed for humans to occupy for long periods of time (continuously).

Some spaces, such as parts of a tunnelling operation or an underground mine (stopes, drifts, ramps, shafts, raises), are designed and constructed specifically for people to carry out work within them. However, parts of a tunnel or mine could be confined spaces, and tunnels and mines could also include confined spaces within them, such as bins, tanks, clean or dirty water sumps, and water storage dams.

3. Atmospheric Hazards

Examples of atmospheric hazards include, one or more of the following:

      • The accumulation of flammable, combustible or explosive agents.
      • An oxygen content in the atmosphere that is less than 19.5 per cent or more than 23 per cent by volume.
      • The accumulation of atmospheric contaminants, including gases, vapours, fumes, dusts or mists, that could, result in acute health effects that pose an immediate threat to life, or interfere with a person’s ability to escape unaided from a confined space.

Emergency Response Plans for Confined Spaces

If your company has confined spaces at your work site, it’s your responsibility to ensure a rescue plan is in place in the event of an incident.

Being able to call 911 in case of an incident is not a suitable on-site rescue procedure. Since confined spaces have limited access and can have atmospheric hazards, companies need to develop an on-site rescue plan than can be ready for immediate action to rescue a worker from a confined space.

The on-site emergency response plan can be created by the company’s safety team, or from a vendor who has specializes in confined space rescues.

For more safety tips or how to select an emergency response team for your project, please contact us at (780) 819-8027 or jhull@protocolrescue.com.