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5. The Program | Confined Spaces Guideline

  • Issued: September 2006
  • Revised: July 2011
  • Content last reviewed: July 2011

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Section 5 - Confined Spaces Regulation (O. Reg. 632/05)

  • 5 (1)  If a workplace includes a confined space that workers may enter to perform work, the employer shall ensure that a written program for the confined space is developed and maintained in accordance with this Regulation before a worker enters the confined space.
  • (2)  A program described in subsection (1) may apply to one or more confined spaces.
  • (3)  In the case of a workplace that is not a project, the program described in subsection (1) shall be developed and maintained in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or the health and safety representative, if any.
  • (4)  A program described in subsection (1) shall be adequate and shall provide for,
    • (a)  a method for recognizing each confined space to which the program applies;
    • (b)  a method for assessing the hazards to which workers may be exposed, in accordance with section 6;
    • (c)  a method for the development of one or more plans, in accordance with section 7;
    • (d)  a method for training of workers, in accordance with section 8 or section 9.1, as the case may be; and
    • (e)  an entry permit system that sets out the measures and procedures to be followed when work is to be performed in a confined space to which the program applies.
  • (5)  In the case of a workplace that is not a project, the employer shall provide a copy of the program to the joint health and safety committee or the health and safety representative, if any.
  • (6)  In the case of a workplace that is a project, the employer shall provide a copy of the program to the constructor, who shall provide a copy of it to the project's joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if any.
  • (7)  The employer or constructor, as the case may be, shall ensure that a copy of the program is available to,
    • (a)  any other employer of workers who perform work to which the program relates; and
    • (b)  every worker who performs work to which the program relates, if the workplace has no joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative.

What does a confined space program include?

A confined space program is a written document that includes: a method for recognizing each confined space to which the program applies; a method for assessing the hazards to which workers may be exposed; a method for the development of confined space entry plans; a method for training workers; and, an entry permit system.

A method is a process which the employer will use to implement the various elements of the program.

Does ‘workplace’ include a construction project?

Yes, a project is also a workplace. The OHSA defines a workplace as any land, premises, location or thing at, upon, in or near which a worker works [Section 1 of the OHSA]. A workplace could be a building, mine, construction site, vehicle, open field, road or forest. The general test is: is the worker being directed and paid to be there or to be near there? If the answer is “yes”, then it is a workplace.

May I have an outside contractor develop a confined space program in order for workers to enter my confined space?

Yes, you may have an outside contractor develop a confined space program for your workplace; however, as an employer or a contractor, you retain your responsibilities under the OHSA, and are ultimately accountable for the health and safety of all workers at your workplace.

All employers who have a confined space into which workers may enter to perform work are required to develop and maintain a confined space program. Where there are multiple employers of workers in a space, then the multi-employer provisions would apply.

When a confined space is part of a construction project, which employer is responsible for developing and maintaining the program?

Each employer of workers entering the confined space or each employer who contracts out entry to a confined space is responsible for ensuring compliance with the confined space requirements. A copy of the program or programs for the confined space must be developed by the employer(s) and provided to the constructor.

Where there are multiple employers of workers who will enter a confined space see Section 8 of this Guideline.

May I have one program for all confined spaces in my workplace?

Yes, the program is intended for all confined spaces in the workplace and as such it is important to adequately address all confined spaces in that workplace. For employers with multiple locations, the Regulation does not prohibit the development of one program as long as it adequately addresses the confined spaces in each location. For all workplaces other than projects, the employer must consult with the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative, if any, on the development and maintenance of the program for each specific workplace to which it applies.

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Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.