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.

Email [email protected] for a copy of the procedures.

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 and Permit Recipient training)

  • 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, and

  • Permit Recipient training prior to any work on our assets.

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)

  • completed Sewerage Transfer Access Request (STAR) form (contact us for a copy)

STAR applications should be sent to [email protected]

Approved sewer work

When your sewer work has been approved and work commences you must follow the CSE procedures.

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)

  • 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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Last updated:
22 September 2017