Many bridges have confined spaces within their structure. These tend to be hollow sections, which may or may not be designed for people to move around in. These areas must be inspected regularly to assess if a bridge remains safe to use.
As with other confined spaces, it is important a thorough risk assessment is conducted before any work takes places in a bridge confined space.
Confined space hazards associated with bridge operation:
- Oils and greases
- Gases – naturally occurring from external sources i.e., carbon monoxide from bridge traffic
- Constraints of space
- Dark or poorly lit
- Can be hot or cold dependant on weather.
- Difficult access/egress – may need access equipment to enter
- Difficulty in removing a casualty in the event of an emergency
- Ventilation – lack of naturally flowing fresh air, can be stagnant
- Distance from point of work to a point of safety should an emergency occur
Imported confined space hazards associated with work on bridges:
- Chemicals – paints and solvents used to maintain the inner workings of the bridge
- People – lack of training, supervision, human behaviour, lone working
- Gases - carbon monoxide from generators
- Tools and equipment – fit for purpose, tested/calibrated
- Trip hazards – small area means lack of space for storage of equipment