Cooling Towers – Confined Space or Restricted Access to Go Inside? Skills that are Important to Work Inside of Cooling Towers

Cooling towers

There are a lot of risks when you need to enter a cooling tower to carry out maintenance. Coolclean tackles some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks inside cooling towers safely, by setting up permits, having the correct training, setting up safety control measures, PPE and just having the experience to know what we are doing.

Inside cooling towers there are toxic chemicals, deadly bacteria, moving fans and motors, it is wet and slippery, difficult to get in then back out, dark, wet, or hot, the job is not easy.

Even though cooling towers are essential for our survival, not many people know about them. Most large buildings, factories, hospitals, shopping centres, data centres, and other buildings utilize cooling towers to cool their air conditioning systems.

Some of these safety hazards include working in confined spaces, slips and trips, exposure to electricity, chemicals, and even dangerous bacteria that grows inside Cooling Towers.

Coolclean has 30+ years of cooling tower knowledge and experience, with qualified technicians and team leaders who have specialised skillsets, and on-site, on the job training.

There is no certificate, course, or trade qualification that can be obtained to specifically work on a cooling tower. Most people have zero experience on how to work with fill pack -drift eliminators – air intake splash louvers – fan drives – fibreglass basins – steel basins – timber beams – ball float valves or water distribution systems and nozzles.

Coolclean provides to its clients, a multitude of cooling tower elements that includes knowledge, experience, expertise, and many skills across several industries and disciplines to carry out cooling tower work correctly and safely.

Cooling towers should never be overlooked as their efficient operation is crucial in eliminating health and safety risks for employees, customers, the public, and any business.

Coolclean is an 100% Australian-owned and operated company that specialises in Cooling Tower maintenance, cleaning, and servicing in Victoria.

Our Skilled and Experienced Leadership Team:

Darren Driscoll, a Director at Coolclean has an extensive knowledge of all things cooling towers; indeed, Darren comes from a background of actually designing and manufacturing all types of Cooling Towers in Australia, how is that for experience!

Must haves to work inside cooling towers!

1: Cooling Tower Insurance:

Coolclean has insurance that is valid for any cooling tower job in any condition.

​​Most public Liability Insurance Policies exclude Legionnaires Disease cover for contractors, if they maintain, service, or repair them. Yes, zero cover if someone gets sick or dies from a cooling tower Legionaries Disease outbreak. A contractor must advise their insurance company that they will be working on cooling tower and then the insurer will price the policy to cover the risk.

Many standard policies don’t address the specific needs of the industry and leave operators with inadequate insurance when it comes to cooling towers. To maintain and clean cooling towers, it is crucial to have comprehensive public liability insurance that does NOT exclude legionella diseases.

2: Confined space/restricted access:

Coolclean provides jobs that require safe, ready access to cooling tower components (such as basins, filler, fans, drift eliminators, and water distribution channels), which is why they ask the question, “Is it going to involve entry into a confined space?” before they start any work on a cooling tower.

Must a competent person conduct a confined space risk assessment, as well as complete a confined space entry permit?

YES – To enter a confined space, Coolclean employers are required to provide their employees with training, entry permits, standby persons, and rescue plans written by trained professionals.

Coolclean is 100 % government-compliant company with the authority to write and provide permits for any job they undertake.

3: Working at heights:

Working at heights does not mean a person is hanging over the edge of a building from a rope

Cooling towers can have ladders and maintenance platforms installed to allow a unit to be fully cleaned. Coolclean maintenance crew are heights trained to safely use access platforms and ladders. It is critical to be heights trained to know what is actually safe to use and what is not safe to use. If there is no safe access, the training teaches you what you can use or hire to make the access safe.

It’s so important to have certification to work on high platforms, control risks and implement safe access such as:

  •   Portable ladders
  •   Scaffold – fixed – portable – field erected
  •   EWP – Extended Work Platform training (scissor and boom lifts)

4: First aid training

  • Level 2 or above first aid training is required to enter and/supervise any cooling tower confined or restricted access space. If someone is injured, overcome by a gas, not breathing, it is critical to be trained to provide first aid until the rescue crew can take action.

5: Chemical handling and safety training:

Cooling towers have chemicals added to them every day, so it is critical for anyone working on or inside a cooling tower to be trained. Chemicals such as biocides are capable of killing microorganisms including Legionella, but they can also harm humans if they are in close contact.  Corrosion inhibitors are acidic, so they burn your skin on contact. PPE and training is mandatory to allow a person to work on any unit

  • Oxidising biocides and non-oxidising chemicals can burn your skin, cause blindness, damage your airways, cause your skin to blister and rot, and attack you vital organs
  • Oxidising biocides include commonly used chemicals such as chlorine and bromine. These chemicals kill bacteria relatively quickly and they tend to be associated with corrosion, so close attention is needed in terms of corrosion control.
  • Training is super important to make sure everyone involved does not get injured

Avoid Possible hazards by:

  • Wear PPE gear including an P2 mask to provide skin, eye and respiratory protection
  • Ensure workers are also trained in cooling tower safe working in confined spaces, restricted access, or emergency rescue
  • Provide personal protective equipment that is suitable for the nature of the work and the hazard, and that is used or worn by workers who have been trained in its use and care.

Cleaning all interior surfaces of your cooling tower and the system is essential and law if you want it to function properly and you want to not break the law. Victoria implemented a law requiring all cooling tower interior surfaces to be cleaned twice a year as of 2019.

Cooling tower owners (landlords, building managers) must inspect their cooling water systems monthly and ensure that their cooling towers are periodically inspected and the interior cleaned every six months.

Coolclean safety procedure:

Cleaning and maintaining Cooling towers requires a strong safety procedure the is very well thought out to ensure the wellbeing of everybody, including Coolclean employees, customers, the public, and the Cooling towers and buildings.

Rescue Plan:

The importance of rescue plans cannot be overstated. They literally save lives. According to Darren, Coolclean has established confined space rescue plans, which include rehearsals, rescue exercises, and proper crew training where they undergo many extremes, including specialized training. Coolclean can recommend modifications in rescue procedures to ensure that openings and exits to confined spaces are unobstructed and large enough to allow emergency access.

Standby person: (Observer / Sentry)

Whenever a person in a confined space or restricted access is injured or collapses, the stand-by person is responsible for calling for assistance and, if necessary, providing first-aid, and resuscitation. Cooling towers are dangerous spaces to enter so always have two people working on a cooling tower, one in and one out!

Stand-by persons are not permitted to enter a confined space or restricted access as they must raise the alarm, not enter and get hurt themselves.


As already mentioned, skills must be gained via specialist external training,  on-the-job training,  and industry experience. Darren discussed the selection and recruitment strategy, what they look for, what skills sets they look for as a starting point when employing their team that includes:

Mechanical fitters, painters, fibreglassers, carpenters, electricians, chemists, and plumbers, all with relevant qualified backgrounds.

The Coolclean team are then extensively trained in all the following skills that includes

  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Operation Monitoring
  • Operation and Control of systems
  • Water treatment equipment isolation
  • Water testing
  • Specialised coatings
  • Drift eliminator knowledge
  • Working at heights
  • Reporting
  • Rescue plans
  • Pressure power washing
  • Equipment Selection
  • Complex Problem Solving

Coolclean’s full inclusive cleaning service includes:
  • Testing
  • Equipment isolation
  • Air testing
  • 1st disinfection/ 2nd re disinfection
  • Full comprehensive component inspection
  • Full interior surface cleaning
  • Power cleaning components
  • Mechanical inspection
  • One report for each tower with photos
  • Compliant with Victoria Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations to * Disinfect – clean interior system surfaces – disinfect
  • Compliant with Australian state and territory cooling tower regulations for cooling tower cleaning
  • Government Compliance – Cooling performance optimizing – Risk reduction – Water savings – Electrical power savings – Environmental protection

As you can see, when it comes to cleaning your cooling tower there are many more skills, knowledge, and qualifications needed, including legal requirements than meets the eye.

If you need an expert to inspect and clean the interior of your cooling tower, then give Coolclean a call. They are expertly trained in all aspects of cooling tower surface cleaning, are qualified in confined space and rescue, and will provide the very best service that is possible. The entire team are very knowledgeable and will most definitely be able to assist you!



   Unit 21, 21-22 National Drive, Hallam VIC 3803
   +61 03 8765 9500

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