What Are the 4 Types of Confined Space Hazards?

Confined spaces may be necessary in most workplaces, but they pose various hazards to workers.

These hazards arise because confined spaces are not large enough or designed for continuous use. 

They are also not configured for work and have limited entry or exit points.

Therefore, the enclosed nature of these spaces creates potentially high-risk situations that could lead to injuries, illness and even fatalities. 

So here are the four hazards associated with confined spaces and which protective measures you can take to protect workers while preventing accidents.

1. Atmospheric Hazards

Atmospheric hazards are invisible and occur when the air quality harms anyone breathing it.

These include:

  • Low oxygen levels could cause suffocation, unconsciousness and death.
  • Toxic gases lead to poisoning, respiratory issues and death.
  • Flammable or explosive atmospheres cause fire, explosion and death.

These risks can lead to acute injury if not properly addressed or even death.

Control Measures 

You should ensure that all spaces in your workplace are properly ventilated by opening windows, doors or use of mechanical systems. 

Additionally, you should always test the air often or before entry to ensure no dangerous gases are present.

2. Physical Hazards

Physical hazards can lead to falls, bruises, cuts, broken bones, dislocated joints and even death.

These are the causes of physical hazards:

  • Uneven surfaces could cause workers to slip and fall, thus causing injuries
  • Moving machines
  • Sharp objects and electrical wires left lying around
  • Protruding objects that are not covered well after use

Control Measures 

There should be no loose equipment and materials in a confined space at your workplace. Instead, ensure that any loose equipment and material is securely fastened or removed to prevent them from falling on workers. 

Also, clearly mark hazardous areas within the confined space to help workers avoid them and stay safe.

What Are the 4 Types of Confined Space Hazards?

3. Biological Hazards

These hazards come from living organisms and cause harm to any worker that comes into contact with them.

They include bacteria viruses, harmful microorganisms that could lead to illness, infections, allergic reactions and even death.

These are some of the causes of biological hazards:

  • Contaminated bird droppings 
  • Contamination by rat urine, sewage or animal waste
  • Exposure to discarded needles used in recreational drug use 
  • Water systems with contaminated stagnant water

Control Measures 

You should ensure your employees understand the importance of wearing personal protective equipment. 

Also, you should guarantee that the cleaning company or employees sanitize and clean the confined space on a regular basis. 

Because different workers access the space, they may bring along potential biological hazards and so the confined spaces can become dirty if not cleaned regularly.

4. Psychological Hazards 

Employees working in confined spaces are prone to having mental and emotional problems. 

These include stress and anxiety.

In the event that some of the workers experience an injury while in a confined space, like getting trapped, it might cause claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces).

Psychological hazards can cause serious damage as most workers suffering from these are not comfortable speaking up or seeking help. 

Therefore, this leads to them missing important safety precautions, thereby putting their fellow workers at risk.

Control Measures 

You should provide mental health resources like counselling or stress management programs.

You should also build upon an “open door policy” in your workplace. 

An open-door policy means that your employees respect you as their boss as they trust you to hear their grievances with an open mind and solve them. 

This makes the employees feel seen and heard, leading to better communication, increased job satisfaction, and improved overall productivity.

Get Confined Spaces Training to Help Mitigate Risks

You need to have confined space training at your workplace.

And you need it now because the rate of fatalities has been increasing over the years, as shown in the table below.

Year Fatal injuries involving confined spaces
2017 166
2016 144
2015 136
2014 116

But you should have experts carry out the training.

With expert confined space trainers like us, you ensure your workers get the best when it comes to creating awareness of the hazards associated with working spaces. 

This opens their eyes to the fact that they must always wear protective gear to prevent injuries and accidents.

Also, in case of an accident, your workers can distinguish the hazard type and take the appropriate steps to control it.

But you don’t have to take our word for it.

Sign up today for our confined space training and let us teach your workers the skills and knowledge they need to work safely in tight spots.