Double Fatality in Confined Space Prompts Warning

March 01 2018


In January this year, two brothers died in a tank on a trailer after apparently being overcome by fumes in Sarina, about 35 kilometres south of Mackay, Qld.

The brothers were cleaning the residue in the tank which had been used to carry 20m3 of a mixture of molasses and urea when they were overcome.

The deaths have ignited fresh warnings for anyone conducting works in a confined space. The importance of requirements for safe entry into confined spaces, either intended or inadvertently, should be considered by employers at any workplace where these works may be undertaken.

Employers can prevent similar incidents by ensuring that workers are trained and competent in confined space entry processes; including the appointment of a stand-by person who remains outside the confined space communicating with the workers and implementing emergency procedures if needed.

Employers must establish a communication, continuous monitoring and rescue plan before commencing confined space work. In addition employers should provide PPE, rescue and fire suppression equipment, safety harnesses where necessary and ensure that the space is well ventilated. Atmospheric testing and monitoring must be carried out where there is a risk of an unsafe atmosphere due to low oxygen levels or harmful levels of contaminants.
If your workplace requires further guidance regarding confined space work, please contact us to book in an independent audit of your work areas.