Skip to main content

Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Control measure

Safe system of work: Confined spaces

Control measure knowledge

Because of the nature and severity of the risks faced while working in confined spaces, it is essential that the incident commander obtains as much information as possible before determining whether to deploy personnel.

All potential hazards within the confined space, as detailed in this guidance, should be identified and evaluated in accordance with the Confined Space Regulations to assess whether the benefit of entering outweighs the associated risks.

If the decision is made to deploy personnel, the risk assessment and safe system of work should be shared with all those deployed and the appropriate control measures should be applied.

Only personnel who are competent to work in confined spaces should be deployed, and only if they have the appropriate equipment, supervision and personal protective equipment (PPE). They should also be supervised for safety and welfare purposes. Where the risk assessment requires it, it may be necessary to appoint dedicated safety officers to monitor the working environment or specific hazards. Entry control procedures should be used to monitor the safety of personnel if they are committed to work in a confined space environment. Incidents involving confined spaces are more likely to require a greater degree of control and supervision. For more information see Foundation for breathing apparatus.

The incident commander may be able to seek advice from a qualified confined space supervisor; they can provide assistance for dealing with the hazards of working in confined spaces.

The entry point to a confined space is likely to be within the inner cordon, which is under the control of the fire and rescue service. Access and egress routes should be identified and monitored. However, if these routes become unsuitable during the incident, alternative routes should be identified and used if possible.

See National Operational Guidance: Incident command - Command skills.

Tactical actions

There are no tactical actions associated with this control measure.