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OSHA Definition of Confined Space

A confined space has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit and is large enough for an employee to enter and perform their assigned work. However, it is not designed for employees to work inside for long periods of time or frequently over a period of time (OSHA). Some common examples of confined spaces are:

  • Underground vaults
  • Tanks
  • Storage bins
  • Pits and diked areas
  • Vessels
  • Silos

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:

  1. There are limited openings for entry and exit
  2. The space is not intended for continuous human occupancy
  3. The space is large enough for you to enter and conduct work

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.

What is a Competent Person?

A competent person is required by OSHA to be there. OSHA describes a competent person as someone “who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are [unsafe].” Many standards have specific requirements for a competent person, including but not limited to:

The criteria for a competent person depends on the situation that the person is working in. While there is no set amount of training time or certification required, it is vital that a competent person has adequate training and knowledge about worksite hazards and equipment before taking on this role. A competent person must also be designated by their employer.

What Does That Mean In Regards to Confined Spaces?

As stated earlier, a competent person must be familiar with the hazards of the job and the proper controls to use for employee protection. For example, when working within a confined space, employees could potentially be exposed to a toxic atmosphere. A competent person has the responsibility of providing training to the workers on the hazards and controls associated with a toxic atmosphere.

Competent Person & Confined Space Entry

Just like every other employee, a competent person must complete confined space safety training and receive a confined space entry permit before entering the space.

A competent person, once designated, takes on the responsibility of deciding whether a space is a permit-required confined space or a non-permit required confined space.

A non-permit required confined space (also called non-permit spaces) 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).

A permit-required confined space (also called a permit space) is a confined space that has the potential to contain hazards or cause harm to an entrant. The guidelines OSHA has in place to define a permit space include these characteristics:

OSHA Aligned Courses

All of our courses comply with OSHA Requirements and contain all of the necessary safety information related to the specific training topic. 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 hour, Confined Space Rescue, and Confined Space Competent Person Training safety courses available.

All the Different Course Formats We Offer

We provide a variety of learning styles for our courses. Along with our exclusive train-the-trainer programs, we also provide in-person, online, and training kit courses. Over 200 training subjects are available in our course catalog for businesses, and each course is completely narrated and structured to hold students’ attention. For the benefit of staff members who have hearing or vision impairments, our narration reads everything precisely as it is written down. Additionally, we provide Spanish classes!