Working in enclosed spaces and wells

Always make sure that accidents involving suffocation, poisoning and similar are prevented.

Be particularly vigilant when working in:

  • wells,
  • pumphouses,
  • tunnels,
  • pipelines,
  • silos,
  • shafts and similar locations.

Minors under 18 must not work in enclosed spaces, wells, pipes, etc., if there is a risk of suffocation or explosion.

A lot of this work will be particularly hazardous work. This means that the employer must always compile a written assessment which includes arrangements so that work can be carried out safely.

If people on the work site are employed by more than one employer, the developer must prepare a Health and Safety Plan (PSS) for the work.

Working in wells

There must always be at least one guard when people work in wells and similar. He must remain in constant contact with the people working in the well. An assistant is often required as well whom the guard can summon quickly.
Before work begins:

  • Check whether the sides of the well, vertical ladders, etc. are intact.
  • Any damage must be repaired immediately.
  • The well must be vented effectively – feed in fresh air if necessary.
  • Before entering the well, check whether the air in the well is clean and contains sufficient amounts of oxygen. Repeat this measurement while work is in progress in the well.

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  • Measure for oxygen content, hydrogen sulphide and explosive substances.
  • It must be possible to rescue people working in wells. Always use a hoisting harness and line. The line must be connected to a gin with a winch or similar.
  • Employees must have received instruction and training on the use of rescue equipment, etc.

If it is necessary to go down into a well which cannot be vented properly, the following is applicable:

  • Use suitable respiratory protection (with an air supply).
  • Tools, equipment, lighting and clothing must be made safe from sparks.
  • The guard must be equipped with additional respiratory protection with an air supply.

If there is a risk of explosion, smoking and naked flames are prohibited near the well.

Hoisting harness

A hoisting line secured to a hoisting harness is often the only way of rescuing someone from a well. This may be the case if, for example, the person in question has been injured or rendered unconscious due to gas or insufficient oxygen in the well.

An unconscious person cannot be hoisted up out of the well by manual force. Therefore, suitable hoisting gear must be installed over the well.

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A vehicle with a mechanical winch can also be used as hoisting gear if it is possible to place the vehicle sufficiently close to the well. This must take place before someone crawls down into the well, and it must also be possible to operate the winch manually if the mechanical drive fails.

The guard must be trained on how to use the rescue equipment correctly and be aware of how he can summon help quickly.

Drain work

Special rules apply to work on drainage facilities used. This requires a know­ledge of and instruction on how to work in drains. People who spend most of the day working in drains must have been vaccinated in compliance with the requirements of the Working Environment Authority.

Constantly measure the levels of oxygen, hydrogen sulphide and explosive substances, and take precautions accordingly.

Always wear the most suitable workwear for the task in hand. If clothing is made wet, it must be possible to change into clean, dry workwear.

There are special requirements for separate baths, changing facilities, separate workwear/everyday clothes and requirements for baths after work ends.

Personal hygiene

Wash your hands before and after going to the toilet and before eating, and bathe directly after finishing work.

You must change your clothes before you eat so that you do not eat while wearing your work clothes.

Enclosed spaces, pipes, etc.

Work must not take place pipelines less than 1.2 m in diameter. However, exemptions to this can be applied for from the Working Environment Authority. Such permission is granted only in special cases, and a long list of special arrangements has to be complied with. Among other things, there must be a details plan which shows arrangements for countering risks to health and safety at work in a different way.

The work must be short-term and working hours in the pipeline must be limited.

In the case of disasters, it is possible to deviate from the special arrangements if absolutely necessary. In such instances, the working environment organisation has to have compiled guidelines and procedures, and an evaluation within the working environment organisation should always take place afterwards.
In such special cases, it will normally be possible to use straps with ankle binding to be able to pull the person out.

There must be an intermediate post if the guard is unable to maintain contact with the people in the pipeline or well. He must remain between the work site and the guard and be able to communicated with both.

District heating facilities

When working in district heating facilities, it is necessary to prevent the risk of scalding while at the same time complying with the general rules for working in wells, pipes and enclosed spaces.

Employees must have access to cold drinking water when working in areas with temperatures above normal.

Working in enclosed spaces is demanding. Working hours should therefore be limited. They must take regular breaks and swap to different tasks.

Otherwise be aware that older district heating plants may contain asbestos insulation on pipes/pipe elbows, for example.