A worker can enter and complete their assigned tasks in a confined environment with only a few or restricted entry or exit points. But it’s not intended for workers to work regularly or for extended periods of time (OSHA). Constrained areas can be found in places like:
- Underground vaults
- Storage bins
- Pits and diked areas
Employees working in and near confined areas face substantial risks in every business. In the past ten years, confined space accidents have claimed the lives of more than 1,000 workers alone in the United States. Because of this, it’s critical that you comprehend how to safeguard both yourself and others from the risks connected to operating in limited locations. Learn more about confined space training options here.
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.
A restricted portal includes any entrance that is 24 inches or less in diameter. Any entrance that is greater than 24 inches in diameter is considered unrestricted.
What Are OSHA Requirements for Confined Spaces?
According to OSHA, there are three requirements that must be met for a space to be considered a confined space:
- There are limited openings for entry and exit
- The space is not intended for continuous human occupancy
- The space is large enough for you to enter and conduct work
Once a space has been defined as a ”confined space” it must be broken down a little more. There are two classifications for confined spaces: non-permit and permit spaces.
A non-permit confined space is “a confined space that does not contain…hazards [or] have the potential to contain any hazard capable of causing death or any serious physical harm” (OSHA). We will discuss what a permit-required confined space is throughout the next section.
How Does OSHA Define Permit-Required Confined Spaces?
It is important to note that OSHA requires employers to evaluate their workplaces to determine if spaces are permit-required confined spaces or otherwise often called “permit spaces.”
The guidelines OSHA has in place define permit spaces as a confined spaces that:
- Contains, or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
- Contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant
- Has walls that converge inward
- Has floors that slope downward or taper into a smaller area
- Contains any other recognized safety or health hazards
Permit-Required Confined Space Program
A permit-required confined space program, or permit space program, is the employer’s overall program for controlling and protecting employees from permit space hazards and for regulating employees’ entry into permit spaces (OSHA).
Confined Space Entry Permit
Due to permit spaces being the most hazardous confined spaces, it is required that a qualified person complete a safety checklist and receive a permit before entering into the space.
The confined space entry permit is the most essential tool for ensuring employee safety entering a confined space with present or potential hazards, both known and unknown.
Training Requirements for Safety
Entrants are workers who are selected to do confined-space tasks. Entrants should get instruction in:
- Determine dangers
- Make the attendants aware of any hazards.
- Recognizing warning signals
- Put on, keep, and utilize the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE)
- Interact with staff members who are not inside the limited environment.
- Use self-rescue techniques as necessary.
Creating a Rescue Plan: Egress, Configuration, and Vectors
When working in a confined space, an important question for both employers and employees to consider is what to do if someone gets injured, incapacitated, or trapped in a space and needs to be rescued.
Conducting a rescue in a confined space involves confronting unique and difficult hazards. Failure to plan properly can mean the difference between a successful rescue and a body recovery.
The following five steps will explain how to create an efficient rescue plan in case of emergencies.
- Understand the emergency – Emergencies come in many forms, so the first consideration should be “what happened?”
- Conduct a site assessment – Before any confined space entry takes place on a site, those spaces have to be identified, classified, and labeled. This is essential in determining what special equipment or procedures should be involved when conducting a rescue operation.
- Ensure that permit procedures are in place and working – OSHA requires employers to develop a permitting system for allowing workers into confined spaces. Permits have to include information about the location, authorized personnel, and hazard control. This information can be invaluable to the rescue process.
- Create the rescue plan – Rescue plan parameters should be decided on and documented for all confined spaces. Once the parameters are in place, employees should be trained on them.
- Drills – It is not enough to create a plan. Emergency preparedness means the plan has been tested and the involved parties have had a chance to practice.
Hard Hat Training
After reading about all the training standards and certificates, you must be wondering how to get started. You are in luck because you can start here at Hard Hat Training, where our teams work hard every day to provide you with the best and most affordable training courses. Check out our confined space training.
Our Description of Safety
Here at Hard Hat Training, our goal is to make safety training easy and affordable. Our vision is to help companies minimize accidents and fatalities through consistent, in-depth training. Our training materials are frequently updated, enabling us to offer the most thorough, up-to-date, easy-to-use, and OSHA Aligned training options on the market today!