Confined space entry in sewers

Confined Space Entry (CSE) work is extremely hazardous and considered a high risk activity in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.

Conducting work in sewers presents unique hazards due to the broad range of industrial waste involved, and requires specific procedures.

Our procedures

All sewer entry work must comply with our Confined Space Entry procedures, even if the work is not strictly defined as ‘confined space’ in the regulations.

To ensure you meet all the required safety conditions and standards please refer to the procedures below:

Sewer work

This is defined as 'any work' that exposes you to or puts you in contact with sewer gas or sewage, including:  

  • surface work over an open manhole, like jet cleaning, CCTV inspections or taking samples
  • work where a live sewer is broken into, for example when there's a clear pathway for air from the sewer to enter the workspace
  • equipment work that might involve contact with sewage, including cleaning or maintaining a pump
  • confined space entry into a sewer

Requirements for sewer work

Eligibility for entry

Only approved contractors working for us (City West Water, South East Water or Yarra Valley Water) can apply for entry into our sewers.

To enter our sewers you must: 

  • be eligible have successfully completed training (CSE training, Working Safely at Melbourne Water and/or Permit System training if a permit is required)
  • follow our CSE procedures receive entry approval and a Permit to work

Training required

To conduct sewer work you must have completed:

  • CSE Training with a registered training provider (evidence may be requested)
  • Working Safely at Melbourne Water
  • Melbourne Water Permit System training if the work required a permit to be issued by the Sewerage Transfer team (view our training application

Sewer access alerts

When you submit your sewer entry application you'll be advised of any conditions or access restrictions that may impact your works. This includes information about sewer access points that:

  • can't be accessed (no-go sewer)
  • require special gas testing prior to access
  • require particular hazards to be noted as part of a work party’s risk assessment

Note: Sewer access alerts are constantly being updated due to hazards, and may change from the time of permit application to the time of performing works. In this case additional controls may be required for your works to continue.

Apply for sewer access approval

Your application should include:

  • a summary of the work to be completed (include any drawings, details about what equipment will be used, and how assets will be accessed)
  • a risk assessment (for example, a safe work method statement, job safety analysis or task risk assessment)
  • medical assessments or evidence of a completed medical assessments no older than two years of all personnel entering a confined space (where applicable)

Please note, before applying:

  • For access to confined space (No diversions or isolations), 5 business days notice is required
  • For access to confined space with diversions or isolations required, up to 30 days notice is required
  • For projects where multiple days of isolations/diversions required in a single month, a minimum of 60 days' notice is required
  • Use google chrome as your web browser when applying 

Apply for Sewerage Transfer Access

Approved sewer work

Once you have submitted your Sewerage Transfer Access Approval (STAA) request, Melbourne Water will send you a notification email informing you it has been received.

The Sewerage Transfer team will assess the applications and when approved will send through a text notification with the STAA number and an email outlining the approval and any conditions that must be adhered to.  If your access requires a Permit as per the Control of Work process.  Please contact the Sewerage Transfer Control Room on 9235 2555 to arrange collection.

When your sewer work commences you must follow the CSE procedures (as above).

You also need to complete the following activities when on site:

  • Complete/check and update your risk assessment
  • Call the Sewerage Transfer Control Room immediately prior to conducting your entry and again after the space has been exited (call in/call out) 9235 2555. 
  • Hold a CSE Permit (if required)
  • Use a 6-gas detector for atmospheric monitoring for all entries, including surface works. This atmospheric monitoring must be continuous for the entire duration of any sewer work.
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