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Confined spaces

Hazard, Risk and Remedy information herein adapted from Safe Work Australia material. Definition of Confined Spaces herein may not represent a legal definition.

Regulation 5 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (WHS Regulations)defines a confined space as an enclosed or partially enclosed space that is at atmospheric pressure while occupied and is not intended to, or designed, primarily as a place of work; and may, amongst other things have a restricted means of entry and exit.


Regulation 5 of the WHS Regulations also defines confined spaces as an enclosed or partially enclosed space that is, or is likely to be a risk to health and safety from:

  • An atmosphere that does not have safe oxygen levels.
  • Contaminants including airborne gases, vapours and dusts that may cause injury from fire or explosion.
  • Harmful concentrations of any airborne contaminants.
  • Potential engulfment.

The following may not be included within this definition of a confined space:

  • A mine shaft or the workings of a mine.
  • Places that are intended for human occupancy and have adequate ventilation, lighting and safe means of entry and exit, such as offices and workshops.
  • Enclosed or partially enclosed spaces that at particular times have harmful airborne contaminants but are designed for a person to occupy, for example abrasive blasting or spray painting booths.
  • Enclosed or partially enclosed spaces that are designed to be occasionally occupied by a person if the space has a readily and conveniently accessible means of entry and exit via a doorway at ground level, for example: a cool store accessed by a LPG forklift to move stock – although the use of a LPG forklift in a cool store can be hazardous, the door at ground level means that once the alarm is raised, escape and rescue can happen quickly.
  • A fumigated shipping container with a large ground level opening will facilitate easy escape and rescue.
  • Trenches are not considered confined spaces based on the risk of structural collapse alone, but will be confined spaces if they potentially contain concentrations of airborne contaminants that may cause impairment, loss of consciousness or asphyxiation.


  • Managing health and safety risks associated with a confined space, including risks when entering, working in, on or near a confined space, as well as the risk of inadvertent entry.
  • Ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, that a worker does not enter a confined space until all the duties in relation to the confined space have been complied with, for example entry permit requirements.
  • Establishing first aid and rescue procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency in the confined space.
  • The WHS Regulations also set out requirements for specific controls measures including communication and safety monitoring, signs, isolation of connected plant and services, and controls to maintain a safe atmosphere within the confined space.


Information SourceContents
Code of Practice - How to Manage Work Health and Safety RisksThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety
Code of Practice - Confined SpacesCode of Practice on mitigating risks involving confined spaces


Information sourceWhat it contains
Incident notification - Part 3, Section 35 to 37 of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011The legislative requirements for incident notification to Comcare
Comcare - Guide to incident notificationHelps you decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the WHS Act
Page last updated: 31 Mar 2016