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Confined spaces

Hazards for employees working in confined spaces and precautions you can take

Work in confined spaces can be dangerous. You need to be aware of the risks and know how to prevent them.

Use the links below to find information on common hazards for employees working in confined spaces and how to assess these. You will also find information about precautions you can take and your legal duties.​

  1. Common confined space hazards

  2. Confined space safety precautions

  3. Confined space safety legislation

2. Confined space safety precautions

Where possible, avoid entry to confined spaces. Establish if the work in confined space is really necessary or if it can be done in another way that avoids the need to enter the confined space.

If entry to a confined space is unavoidable then you must follow a safe system of work for working in confined spaces. Have emergency procedures in place before work starts.​  The results of your risk assessment will help you identify the risks and necessary precautions.

3. Confined Space Safe systems of work

Make sure you have all the relevant information, knowledge and experience to carry out the work.

There needs to be a site specific method statement​ in place for all employees to adhere to before the work is carried out. 

You may need to have a permit to work system in place.


4. Confined Space Ventilation

You will need to ensure there is suitable ventilation within the workplace around and inside the confined spaces. You may have to introduce temporary ventilation before you start. 

If the area has restricted or no natural air supply you may have to use breathing apparatus to provide an air supply to the user.

5. Confined Space Isolation

You may need to isolate local utilities to allow your employees to work safely such as

  • gas

  • water

  • electricity.

6. Confined Space Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Ensure all your employees have suitable PPE​ to undertake the work in confined spaces.

Care should be taken to ensure that the PPE used does not introduce other hazards. These can include overheating or restricting communication or movement.

Ensure your employees have proper 

  • head, hand and foot protection

  • eye and hearing protection

  • waterproof and thermal clothing

  • respirators and breathing apparatus

  • appropriate safety harnesses.​

7. Confined Space Emergency procedures

Put emergency arrangements in place before any work starts. You must put suitable and sufficient measures in place to make sure employees can be rescued safely if required. You should also consider

  • first aid procedures

  • the safety of rescuers

  • liaison with emergency services.

They must be appropriate to the hazard presented by the activity.

  • There must be an effective means of communication for raising the alarm both from the confined space and by someone outside.

  • Work in confined spaces is often carried out at night, weekends and times when the premises are closed, for example holidays. Consider how the alarm can be raised.

  • Provide rescue and resuscitation equipment. This will depend on the likely emergencies identified.

  • It may be necessary to shut down any adjacent plant before attempting emergency rescue. Ensure access and a means to safely shut down is available.

  • Consider how the local emergency services would be made aware of an incident. Plan what their route of access is. Also consider what information about the dangers need to be given to them on their arrival.


Confined Space Rescuers

Those who are identified as rescuers need to be

  • ready at hand

  • properly trained

  • fit to carry out their task

  • protected against the cause of the emergency

  • capable of using any equipment provided for rescue, for example breathing apparatus, lifelines and fire-fighting equipment.


Confined Space Training

Training is critical in all work with confined spaces. Ensure that all employees are given suitable and appropriate training to carry out the workplace task. This will include emergency procedures and if required training in the use of brea​​​thing apparatus.

SSG WSQ Perform Work in Confined Space Operation (PWICSO)


This PWICSO course was formerly called Safety Orientation Course for Workers - Manhole SOCManhole or Manhole SOC

The SSG WSQ Perform Work in Confined Space Operation (PWICSO) is one of the core units in all process sectors of Process Industry.

People who should attend PWICSO are

  • Confined Space Entrant (includes manholes, tanks, vessels, etc)

  • Confined Space Attendant (includes manholes, tanks, vessels etc)


PWICSO Assumed Skills and Knowledge

PWICSO Learners will be able to listen, read, speak and write English at a proficiency level equivalent to the Employability Skills System (ESS) Level 2.

Course Outline for Perform Work in Confined Space Operations

for the SSG WSQ Perform Work in Confined Space Operation are

  • PWICSO Identify duties and responsibilities of all personnel involved in confined space work under the WSH Legislations and Code of Practice.

  • PWICSO Identify confined space hazards

  • PWICSO Use Gas Detection Instruments for atmospheric monitoring

  • PWICSO Comply with Permit-to-Work system and safe work procedures when working in confined space

  • PWICSO Participate in an Emergency for confined space


Course Duration for the Perform Work in Confined Space Operations:

  • 14 Hours (Inclusive of Assessment)


PWICSO Assessment:

  • Written Questions

  • Practical Performance

  • Upon completion of the PWICSO course and passing the examination, a Statement of Attainment (SOA) from Skillsfuture Singapore (SSG) will be awarded.


PWICSO Price of Course:

  • Price per participant: SGD$150

Additional Information about the Perform Work in Confined Space Operation

Legal Requirement for Perform Work in Confined Space Operation Training

Under the Factories (Safety Training Courses) Order 2001 which came into effect in June 2001, all workers, including Singaporeans, must undergo a Safety Orientation Course (Manholes) before they are allowed to work in Manholes and other Confined Spaces. This is now under the Workplace Safety Health Act and its subsidiary legislations

A Confined Space worker or a Manhole Worker when about to perform work in confined space operations, as appointed by the Principal or Employer of a workplace, will play the role of either an entrant or an attendant.

As such the Confined Space Entrant has the responsibility to:
i) coordinate with the confined space attendant, confined space supervisor and confined space (manhole) safety assessor to ensure safe entry in and egress from the confined space or manhole,
ii) assess the working conditions in the confined space or manhole and evacuate the confined space or manhole when it is unsafe to work,
iii) only carry out prescribed work activities (ie perform the work that is allowed), for allowed durations, as approved on the entry permit.


The Confined Space attendant has the responsibility to :
i) coordinate with the confined space entrant, confined space supervisor and confined space (manhole) safety assessor to ensure entrants safe entry in and egress from the confined space or manhole,
ii) prevent unauthorized entry into the confined space or manhole,
iii) maintain regular visual and/or verbal contact with the confined space entrants
iv) assess the working conditions in the manhole and alert the confined space entrants to evacuate when the confined space or manhole is unsafe to work in,
v) alert the confined space rescue personnel to activate the confined space rescue operation.

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