Skip to main content

Control measure
Personal protective equipment (PPE): Confined spaces

Control measure knowledge

Wherever possible, personnel should not work in a confined space if personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed. However, it is accepted that this is rarely possible in fire and rescue service operations. Using PPE and RPE can make movement more difficult and add to the effects of high temperatures. Any PPE and RPE used should be suitable for a confined space.

The type of personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) provided will depend on the hazards identified, but might include safety lines and harnesses. Account must be taken of foreseeable hazards that might arise and the need for emergency evacuation.

Any personal protective equipment that is not intrinsically safe can provide an ignition source for a gas within its flammable or explosive limits. This may cause combustion or explosion. The use of intrinsically safe equipment will preclude this. In most confined spaces, it is impossible to classify the atmosphere present. For fire and rescue service operations, intrinsically safe equipment must meet the appropriate ATEX classification.

For more information about Atex classification click here.

For more information on Breathing Apparatus (BA) control procedures see Foundation for Breathing Apparatus.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure that intrinsically safe equipment is available to crews trained to work in confined spaces

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Ensure that all personnel wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
  • Allocate sufficient personnel to support the use of PPE and RPE that has been implemented for confined space working