health and safety message from the WCB
a recent accident, the owner of a winery collapsed while taking
a sample from a wine fermentation tank. A second person entered
the tank in an attempt to rescue him, and he also collapsed.
They could not be revived.
space accidents are rare but they can be deadly both to the
worker who initially enters the space and to would-be rescuers.
This alert provides links to resources to help you prevent
similar accidents in your workplace.
examples of confined space accidents in BC that led to the
death of workers include:
2001, a welder entered the hull of a barge and became unconscious
in the oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Four other workers entered
the hull to rescue the welder and also became unconscious.
The welder died and the other workers suffered lung damage.
1997, a worker at a pulp mill entered a tank without testing
the air. The tank was filled with colourless, odourless nitrogen,
and the worker collapsed from oxygen deficiency. A second
worker at the entrance to the tank also collapsed. They could
not be revived.
of Confined Spaces
Confined spaces have limited openings for entry and exit,
such as silos, vats, ship holds, sewers, tunnels, large pipelines,
and other such spaces that workers could enter to perform
spaces may contain hazardous air contaminants that may be
colourless, odourless gases that can only be detected with
testing. Sometimes inert gases (such as nitrogen) displace
oxygen so that the confined space is oxygen-deficient. Lack
of oxygen can cause brain damage or heart failure in minutes.
hazards of confined spaces are flammable gases or vapours
that ignite, causing an explosion or fire. Workers have also
been engulfed in loose materials such as grain, sand, or gravel
in silos or storage bins.
an unventilated and untested confined space may pose a hazard
that is immediately dangerous to life or health.
Resources on Confined Spaces
Hazards and Risks of Confined Spaces." SafetyLine Institute, WorkSafe Western Australia
Australian Wine Industry Occupational Safety and Health: Code
of Practice 2002,
Part 18 on Confined Spaces. (PDF 373 KB)
Spaces - No Easy Way Out. Human Resources Development
Canada for federally regulated workplaces.
This page gives brief descriptions of and links to five publications
on confined spaces:
This page gives links to a number of resources, including
hazard recognition, solutions, and training.
it safe to enter a confined space? California State
Department of Industrial Relations (PDF 3 MB)
"Hazard Alert" Bulletins
are some hazard alerts describing confined space accidents
and how to prevent them: