Who has health and safety duties in relation to a confined space?
A person conducting a business or undertaking has the primary duty under the WHS Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.
The WHS Regulations include specific obligations on a person conducting a business or undertaking who has management or control of a confined space.
Designers, manufacturers and suppliers of plant or structures that include a space that is intended, or is likely to become, a confined space must eliminate the need for any person to enter a confined space and eliminate the risk of inadvertent entry or, if this is not reasonably practicable, ensure safe means of entry and exit and minimise risks to the health and safety of any person who enters the confined space.
Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks that arise from entry into confined spaces.
Workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their work does not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with any reasonable instructions given relating to confined space entry permits, risk control measures and emergency procedures, and should carry out work in a confined space in accordance with any relevant information and training provided to them.
Emergency service workers are not required to comply with some requirements for entering confined spaces when either rescuing a person or providing first aid to a person in the space (WHS Regulations 67 and 68).