Our Queensland-based organisation mainly operates in an office environment, but we also manage an aquarium. Occasionally, our workers are required to dive into the aquarium tanks. Large water-holding tanks that are kept onsite also require occasional maintenance.
Can you please confirm if we are legally required to have our own confined space management plan?
Large aquarium tanks and onsite tanks that require cleaning are confined spaces for the purpose of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Qld) (WHS Regulations). Any person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) in control of or managing a confined space has an obligation under Part 4.3 of the WHS Regulations
These obligations arise when the confined space:
- is entered;
- is intended to be entered; or
- could inadvertently be entered by any person.
If you manage or control the confined space as a PCBU, you have a duty under Part 4.3 to:
- manage the health and safety risks of working in or in the vicinity of a confined space;
- ensure that a risk assessment is conducted by a competent person to manage the health and safety risk of working in or in the vicinity of a confined space;
- ensure that the risk assessment is recorded in writing; and
- ensure that the risk assessment is reviewed and, as necessary, revised by a competent person to reflect and review any control measures in Part 3.1.
When managing the risk of working in a confined space and conducting a risk assessment, your business must have regard to all relevant matters, including those listed in section 66(4) of the WHS Regulations.
Even if your business does not have management or control of all the tanks or confined spaces that your workers dive into, you will still have a general health and safety duty under section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).