Confined spaces are high-risk industrial working areas, since serious and fatal injuries occur with a certain frequency and repetitive scenarios. Although these spaces are “ubiquitous throughout industry”, steel industry represents an interesting field of investigation because performing maintenance and manufacturing activities in confined spaces is one of the most common causes of accidents, also fatal, in this industry. In addition, steel plants are characterised by a significant number of confined spaces, quite varied in terms of features, types, and risks. However, to the best of our knowledge, scientific papers focusing on the risk management in confined spaces in the steel industry are not available in the literature. For this reason, the objectives of this paper are to: (1) identify the confined spaces that are typically present in a steel company, (2) provide guidelines on how to assess and manage risks in these spaces, and (3) propose some possible Industry 4.0 technologies to effectively reduce and control the risks. To achieve these objectives, we conducted in-depth case studies in 3 Italian steel firms. We gathered data thanks to an ad hoc questionnaire, detailed audits, and instrumental tests in identified confined spaces. Finally, a focus group was organised for reviewing and discussing collected data, comparing the obtained findings, and developing guidelines for risk management.
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