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OSHA’s Definition of a Confined Space

An employee can enter and complete their assigned tasks in a confined place as long as there are few or no options for admission or leave. But it’s not made for workers to work there regularly or for a long time (OSHA). Learn some common examples of confined spaces.

Employees who work in and around confined areas face serious dangers in almost every field. Over a thousand American workers have lost their lives as a consequence of confined space accidents in the last ten years. Due to this, it’s essential that you comprehend how to protect both yourself and others from the risks connected to working in confined spaces.

Three Different Requirements Of Confined Spaces

As stated in the section above, there are three different features that define what a confined space is. Each feature of a confined space is there due to safety reasons. Each one has the potential to pose a threat to the safety and health of the employees.

#1 – Limited Means of Entry or Exit

A “limited or restricted means of entry or exit” entails any space where you or another employee must use an unusual amount of force to enter or leave, such as:

It also could include any space where, at any point in time, the entrance might become sealed or secured after entry and can’t be opened again from the inside.

#2 – Large Enough for an Employee

When the definition states that a confined space should be large enough for an employee, it is saying that a confined space will be large enough that an employee will have room to physically enter the space and still have enough room to perform their assigned task or work.

#3 – Not Designed for Continuous Occupancy

Continuous occupancy means an area where employees spend most or all of their workday. A confined space is an area where employees are required to take physical breaks from working inside the space due to the potential for ergonomic issues and hazard exposure.

The Four Characteristics of a Confined Space

We define limited areas using the four factors of space access, internal layout, elevation, and portal size. Learn more about the four characteristics of a confined space.

The Two Different Types of Confined Spaces

Once a space has been classified as a confined space based on the three requirements, it must also be classified as a non-permit or permit-required space.

It is important to note that OSHA requires employers to evaluate their workplaces and determine whether spaces are permit-required confined spaces, often referred to as “permit spaces.”

Permit-Required Confined Space

The guidelines OSHA has in place define a permit space as a confined space that:

Confined Space Entry Permit

Permit spaces are the most hazardous confined spaces, so it is required that a qualified person complete a safety checklist and receive a permit before entering. The confined space entry permit is the most essential tool for ensuring employee safety while entering a confined space with present or potential hazards, both known and unknown.

Non-Permit Confined Space

A non-permit confined space is “a confined space that does not contain hazards or the potential to contain any hazard capable of causing death or any serious physical harm” (OSHA). In other words, this is a confined space where the hazards have been eliminated.

Safety Training Requirements 

Entrants are employees who are selected to perform confined-space work. Entrants must have the following knowledge and training.

Our OSHA Aligned Confined Space Training

All of our courses comply with OSHA Requirements and contain all the necessary safety information. Our Content Development and Quality Assurance teams spend hours researching so that we can provide companies with the best and most vital information! We have Confined Space, Confined Space 8-hr, and Confined Space Rescue safety courses available.