Occupational Health & Safety Requirements in Relation to Working in a Confined Space – Part 2
In this piece, we continue our examination of occupational health & safety (OH&S) obligations on employers in relation to having their employees working in confined spaces. We shall begin by discussing the need for supervisors to be appointed, their qualifications and duties. We shall then move on to discuss additional obligations on employers who have confined spaces in the workplace such as suitable electrical equipment, fire extinguishers & necessary safety signage/ notices. Finally, we shall discuss other related topics such as work permits (authorizing employees to work in confined spaces) and training.
Supervisor for the Confined Space
If an employer requires their employees to work in a confined space then the employer must appoint one or more employees to be supervisor(s). Supervisors must be knowledgeable, capable and have undergone suitable training (as detailed below) before they can undertake the following duties:
- Develop an action and prevention plan to deal with dangers that may arise from the work, such plan must be posted as a notice or notified to the staff in writing;
- To explain and drill the duties of staff, responsibilities, method of work and method of safety protection to be in line with the formulated action and prevention plan;
- Supervising employees in using safety equipment & personal protective equipment & inspecting such equipment to ensure that it is in good working order;
- Ordering temporary stoppages of work if a situation arises which may be harmful to the employees until the cause of such danger/harm has disappeared.
General Obligations on Employer for Working in Confined Spaces
Barrier -Employers must provide a barrier to prevent any persons from entering or falling into the confined space which is characterized by a hole, a hollow, a pit, an open tank or a place of similar nature.
Dangerous Objects - Employers must close, obstruct or take necessary steps by any other means to preventing dangerous objects or substances from entering the confined space area in the course of work performing by the employee, examples of this would include highly toxic or inflammable materials.
Entrance & Exit - Employers must arrange an alleyway or an entrance and exit to the confined space for the purpose of convenience and safety.
Signage - Employers must notify employees that smoking or carrying any ignition equipment or flammable equipment unrelated to work to the confined space is prohibited, such notification must be posted at the entrance and exit of the confined space area.
Suitable Electrical Equipment - The employer must provide suitable electrical equipment for use in the confined space and must carry out an inspection of such equipment to ensure it is in good and safe condition for usage. If the confined space has a flammable or explosive atmosphere, such electrical equipment must be of a type which can prevent flammability and explosion.
Fire Fighting Equipment - The employer must provide efficient fire extinguishers in a sufficient quantity that can be readily used in the course of working where flames may be produced.
Employee Work Permit – Authorizing Work in a Confined Space
Who can grant permission to work in a confined space? - The employer is the person who is responsible for granting permission to employees to work in the confined space. However, the employer may authorize (in writing) an employee or employees who have successfully undertaken training on occupational safety in the confined space pursuant to the Regulations (as necessary) to be the person responsible for granting permission on the employer’s behalf. The employer must keep the letter of authorization at the workplace so that it is available for inspection by a labour inspector.
Work Permit Particulars - The employer or their authorized designee must provide a working permit to an employee on every occasion that they work in the confined space. The working permit must at a minimum contain the following particulars:
(1) The confined space in which the employee is permitted to enter to work such as a particular pit, tunnel or cave etc;
(2) Date and time of work;
(3) Work to be performed by the employee;
(4) Name of the employee who is permitted to enter the confined space to work;
(5) Name of supervisor;
(6) Name of the supervisor’s assistant;
(7) Safety measures prepared before the employee is to enter the confined space to work;
(8) Result of air condition inspection and the condition whereby hazards may occur;
(9) Personal protective equipment, assisting equipment and rescue equipment;
(10) Dangers that an employee may be expose to in case of emergency and means of escaping from such danger;
(11) Name and signature of an applicant for seeking permission; and name and signature of person who has the duty of responsibility for granting permission i.e. the employer or their authorized designee.
Retaining Work Permit - Employers must keep the working permit for the employee to work in the confined space at the workplace establishment so that it is available for inspection by the labour inspector. They must also post a copy of the work permit at the entrance and exit of the confined space that is visible during the period when the work is being performed by the employee.
Trainingon Occupational Safety in Confined Spaces
In addition to the above requirements, employer are also obligated to provide employees who perform work in confined space with training on occupational safety in confined space in accordance with the criteria, methods and course as prescribed by the Director-General.
Employers must keep evidence of training on occupational safety in the confined space available for inspection by labour inspectors, such evidence should include copies of signed and dated training certificates of the employees, video recordings of the training sessions etc.
Should you require any legal support relating to workplace health & safety laws then please contact us at Dharmniti Law Office Co., Ltd. 2/2 Bhakdi Building 2nd Floor, Witthayu Road, Lumphini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Tel: (66) 2680 9777 Fax: (66) 2680 9711 Email: ryan [at] dlo.co.th or info [at] dlo.co.th
Writer: Ryan Crowley- Foreign Services Manager