OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 5 Confined Spaces

Section 54 Inerting

Inerting means the introduction of an inert (unreactive) gas such as nitrogen into a confined space to completely displace all oxygen.

For a flammable mixture to burn or explode, a source of oxygen and a source of ignition are required. Inerting is a technique that is used to remove air and the oxygen that it contains. This creates an oxygen-deficient atmosphere and workers who enter the space must be properly trained and equipped with self-contained breathing apparatus, self-contained oxygen generating apparatus or supplied-air breathing apparatus with an emergency escape bottle.

Care must be taken to ensure that the atmosphere remains inerted while workers are within the confined space. To ensure an additional level of safety, all ignition sources must be controlled so that they cannot trigger a fire or explosion. See Part 10 of the OHS Code for requirements dealing with fire and explosion hazards.